Meaghan's Reviews > The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
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's review
Jan 02, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, dystopia, hugo-nominees
Read in December, 2011

This book takes place in Thailand in a future where food is very scarce due to mutating crop plagues. Thailand has managed to fare relatively well -- although the global situation is apparently so bad that this doesn't mean a lot -- because the country cut off trade with the outside world, something which appears to have been a worldwide trend for a while, but the Thais have held out longer than most other nations. The novel centres around a battle for control between the Environment Ministry, who seek to keep harmful foreign influences out of the country, and the Trade Ministry, who wish to re-open Thailand to the global economy. It is an interesting concept (and one that unfortunately doesn't seem terribly far-fetched). The several point of view characters are all affected by this main conflict. They include a "farang" (white) man who works for a corporation that makes genetically modified food, his "yellow card" (Chinese) assistant, an honest Environment Ministry General and his second in command, and the windup girl of the title: an artificial human from (where else?) Japan who is forced to work as a sort of sex slave due to the contraband status of her kind. The windup girl ends up inadvertently bringing about a world-changing outcome in the story, much the way Princip facilitated the beginning of World War I. I thought the ideas behind the book were interesting, but I found it a bit hard to follow at times. Although I am usually annoyed by writers who explain too much, I thought Bacigalupi could probably have helped me out by providing a few more clues as to the bigger picture instead of leaving me to guess at the meaning of much of what was happening. Perhaps it was just his writing style that didn't work for me. Part of the problem, I suppose, may have been the liberal use of untranslated Thai (I guess?) words. Some of these I could figure out, but some were rather obscure.

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