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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RIDING THE EDGE OF DYSTOPIC BIOPUNK
This was the first book I read in 2011 and I can say that the year started on the right foot.

The book setting is Post-Apocalyptic Bangkok, living on time borrowed from both the raising sea levels and the latest versions of food oligopolies biowarfare vectors. The world is slowly shrinking again, the initial catastrophic expansion caused by the exhaustion of...
Published on Jan. 9 2011 by NeuroSplicer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable plot/setting, very weak character development
MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW - INTENDED FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY READ THE NOVEL

The world that Paolo Bacigalupi paints in this novel is excellent. The concept of energy becoming infinitely precious in its own right, rather than as a basic tool of production, was especially fascinating. While most characters consider having enough food to eat to be a comfortable...
Published 13 months ago by Rook


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RIDING THE EDGE OF DYSTOPIC BIOPUNK, Jan. 9 2011
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
This was the first book I read in 2011 and I can say that the year started on the right foot.

The book setting is Post-Apocalyptic Bangkok, living on time borrowed from both the raising sea levels and the latest versions of food oligopolies biowarfare vectors. The world is slowly shrinking again, the initial catastrophic expansion caused by the exhaustion of the oil reserves. Nevertheless, the main sources of power still are, once more, beasts of burden and the weather.

Collapse of the economies of entire continents, chronic malnourishment, religious cleansings and an endless string of resistant terminal infections have pushed humanity to the very edge of existence. And yet, human greed and blind ambition still offer the impetus for the endless power-games that care not how many lives get trampled under its threads.

An American investor/spy after Thailand's only remaining bio-treasure; a shrewd and ruthless refugee trying to rebuilt his empire lost to murderous fundamentalism; government factions locked in a power-struggle to the death; and a seductively-designed Japanese Windup Girl that will unwillingly serve as the catalyst for the brewing explosion.

The book losses its 5th star because of its ending - and I will say no more to avoid any spoilers.
Other than that, a potent mix of William Gibson and Pierre Ouellette.

RECOMMENDED!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing sci-fi book, April 9 2012
By 
G. Larouche (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
This is an amazing example of dystopian sci-fi! All the prices and accolades were well deserved!

The story takes place in a pretty post-apocalyptic future Thailand, after genetically engineered food led to new strains of lethal diseases that completely changed the world. The story lines of different characters are cleverly interwoven and give a veiled picture of a highly corrupt and hierarchical society that considers "clean" food items and health regulations as top priorities. The common point between the American rep of one of the big calorie companies, his accountant, a Thai police officer and other minor characters is the wind-up girl, a human-like creature that fascinates and/or repulses everyone. Her actions and the importance she takes in some of the characters lives drive the novel.

I do not want to give anything away, but this was a great read, from the first to the last page! The writing is beautiful and solid. The world created by the author is richly detailed, thought-provoking, and sometimes, creepy in an unnervingly familiar way. I love this book and highly recommend to sci-fi fans, or anyone who enjoys a good dystopian novel.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! And has been nominated for the upcoming Nebula Award., April 6 2010
By 
Robert Blouin (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Hardcover)
Plot, characters, setting--awesome on all counts. A challenging read at the beginning, but the rewards are many, up until the very strong ending. This novel has been nominated for the upcoming Nebula Award. Past the first 25 pages or so, I found it extremely hard to put down. Couldn't find anything weak in it. I won't forget those characters.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genetically Modified Dystopia, March 26 2010
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Hardcover)
Windup Girl is the first novel by Paulo Bacigalupi. After reading this book, I have become an instant fan of his work, and look forward to his follow up. Windup Girl is imaginative, and extremely well written. The Thai terms, and some sci-fi jargon make the first few chapters a bit of a challenge, but once you get into the story, it moves along quickly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and deep, June 23 2014
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Kindle Edition)
A complex, well charactered, semi-apocalyptic potential future. Extrapolates many of the current geopolitical, environmental, genetic and human issues. No easy outs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars worth the Effort, May 5 2014
By 
Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
Set in a future time when the world's plants and animals are subject to an endless cycle of disastrous mutations has put mankind's food supply at risk. Amid all this despair, farmers in Thailand are growing crops lost to the rest of the world. This has brought calorie man Anderson Lake to try and find the scientist responsible. During his quest, he is introduced to Emiko, a Japanese created 'New People'. While the Japanese embrace these creche grown beings, the rest of the world barely tolerate these windups.

Coming from an environmentalist background, I was most intrigued by devastation to the global flora and fauna. A little snip here and little tinker there, and soon we have a cascading genetic crisis. I wish there had been more emphasis on this part of the story rather than on the windup girl and the political crisis that developed in the country. The one thing that most disturbed me was the level of corruption in all branches of the government. Bribes were required in almost every situation. You want a package cleared through customs, you pay a bribe, you want to get the union to do the work they've been hired to do, you pay a bribe, you want to do just about anything, you pay a bribe. As distasteful as this process is to me, it was fundamental to the development of this story.

This story really has me pondering how close we come to this type of disaster. Currently the Emerald Ash Borer is devastating the white ash trees across my area of Ontario. Loss of trees in the affected areas will be 100% (unless treated). This is horrific damage from a pest that was accidentally introduced to the area. Imagine if these pest had targeted a food stock instead of a tree.

I found this book was a bit hard to get into. There was a new world to be introduced to as well as several sets of characters all with their own connections, ranks and priorities. Once I got past that stage, I rather enjoyed the story line. This is a complicated world that Mr. Bacigalupi has constructed and there are a few open story lines that could lead to a sequel, but as of yet, there is no hints of a follow-up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clever Science Fiction, Jan. 20 2014
By 
Craig Jenkins (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
Bacigalupi creates an immersive alternate future with ambiguous morality and twisted technology that is enjoyable to visit. Would have been 5* but in retrospect, i don't know that I felt a connection with the characters that grew throughout the novel, and (without ruining the twists) they don't all stick around to grow with.

More a compelling world and an interesting plot than a character driven or emotive experience. You can see that he has the potential to do even more, and that will indeed be a treat.
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4.0 out of 5 stars solid read and sobering perspective of enviro post-apocalyptic world, Oct. 16 2013
By 
Daniel Magyar (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Kindle Edition)
An overall good read, although the title is a bit misleading focal point.

Bacigalupi provides a solid science fiction with a perspective on the world after global warming and genetic engineering disaster. The characters are well managed with motivation and action in sync and the political situation is believable.

Glad I read it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable plot/setting, very weak character development, Aug. 28 2013
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Kindle Edition)
MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW - INTENDED FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY READ THE NOVEL

The world that Paolo Bacigalupi paints in this novel is excellent. The concept of energy becoming infinitely precious in its own right, rather than as a basic tool of production, was especially fascinating. While most characters consider having enough food to eat to be a comfortable position, the very richest characters have access to limousines powered by liquefied coal. It is especially telling when one character, ever conscious of conservation due to the life he has led, rides in such a vehicle, and describes it as an obscenity due to its wastefulness. People think primarily in terms of joules, calories, and currency, rather than time and effort, which our modern western society seeks to minimize.

Their lives of deprivation turn them towards survival as a primary goal. Correspondingly, labor is cheap, while food, electricity, and fuel are extremely expensive. This shifts the perspectives of the characters, giving a fascinating glimpse at Mr. Bacigalupi's imagined future. I really enjoyed the world he crafted, and I wish I could have spent more time there, because I feel like there are many more places in addition to Thailand where stories can be told, and where people live radically different lives in this world. I hope he does more with this universe.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW

Where the novel fails, as far as I am concerned, is in the field of character development. Perhaps the time frame of the novel is too short for any significant changes in personality to be observed, but the minor changes in behaviour which are described are not built up to in a fashion that can be observed, nor do we adequately get a description of what the characters are feeling or thinking which leads them to these behaviours. I have listed a few notable examples below.

Again, a warning, MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. I WILL GIVE AWAY THE END OF THE BOOK, SO CONSIDER YOURSELF FOREWARNED.

Anderson - He's a man involved in the de rigeur bio-terrorism by agricultural companies which has torn the world apart following the contraction, but he seems to feel no sympathy for those whose lives he and his employer have made worse, even as he observes the painful lives of so many Thai citizens around him. I was hoping he would indicate some kind of remorse, but the only indication of any concern he gives is the possible regret indicated by the "ghosts" he mutters to before dying.

For a while, it seems like he may develop some measure of empathy through his relationship with Emiko, but even this is tainted by the blunt practicalities by which he defines his life. Emiko's happiness is sacrificed in order to facilitate the organization of the coup, and she herself perceives his affections as purely physical. Indeed, they are not depicted talking to each other, or getting to know and appreciate each others personalities. The only description of feelings we get are his fascination with her physicality, and her ingrained need to obey someone, accompanying a sort of involuntary positive mental feedback when she pleases a master. When Anderson made Hock Seng leave her alone in the apartment, I honestly couldn't tell whether he genuinely cared, or whether he merely saw another route to take, in which he wouldn't have to lose the novelty of his lover. It is particularly telling that Emiko herself was surprised when he defended her, which is not the reaction you would expect from someone who had an expectation of care and compassion from a romantic partner.

Emiko - While I thought the character was fascinating in general, particularly in the scenes where she overcame her conditioning as a result of the abuse which she suffered, her development was also lacking. Immediately after she breaks her conditioning, she seems to take on an almost superior attitude, indicated by her disdain for anyone she encounters who is not New People.

While she cares for Anderson on his deathbed, it cannot be ascertained whether she does this out of care for him or a sense of duty, as she does not exhibit any signs of mourning, and essentially abandons his body immediately after his death so that she can begin her new life in the flooded city.

I felt she was set up very well as a tragic character, due to the horrific and repeated rape which she was subject to in the club, I then understood entirely her violent outburst towards the participants. However, she simply wasn't that relatable of a character overall, because her constant self-questioning as to whether an action was her choice or a result of her conditioning/genes meant that I couldn't get a sense of who she was, since even she did not know.

Hock Seng - I'll keep this one brief. Hock Seng spends the entire book being a completely self-interested cutthroat character, willing to stab anyone in the back or even kill in order to secure his own survival and return himself to a position of influence.

At the end of the book, we get a glimpse of redemption when he instructs the rickshaw driver to go pick up Mai before they head to the dirigible pad. I could not understand why he was doing this, since a chapter or two previous he was seriously considering killing the child because she just might be a risk or a detriment. Now, when saving her will definitely impair his own odds of survival, he readily makes the decision. I think that the thought processes behind this change of heart could have been better elaborated.

Kanya - While her thoughts and reactions to situations were probably the best developed, due to her conversations with Jaidee's phi, her decision to kill the AgriGen people and blow up the pumps seemed ill-conceived. Despite all the discussion that went on surrounding the topic, in her head, I still could not discern a reason for why she thought that killing representatives of a very large agricultural company, and then destroying farmland, homes, and displacing so many citizens would be good for the people. Yes she managed to save the contents of the seedbank, but I question how long those seeds will last if they are no longer refrigerated, and cannot be replanted. Further, she did not wait to see what the group was actually going to do. Constant assurances that they were just going to take samples seemed doubtful, but her choice to kill them all without waiting to see what they were actually going to do seems hasty, particularly since the potential benefits for her country, and for the people living therein (who she claimed to care about so much) were huge.

Well, that was my take on it. Another reviewer described it as an idea-focused book as opposed to a character-focused book, and that's probably the best way to put it. Honestly though, I don't think it's asking too much to get both.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, Aug. 2 2013
By 
Rose (Saint John, NB, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Kindle Edition)
This was the first (and hopefully last) book I didn't finish not because I didn't like it, but because it felt like it was written in another language. It was probably good. Lots of other people thought so, but it was another of those books that I spent so much time trying to figure out what was happening that I didn't enjoy the story. There were many made up words but no explanation of what those words meant until farther along in the story. Far enough along that I had to go back and re-read so I could understand what I had already read. This was totally annoying. Maybe someday I'll take another kick at the can. Maybe not.
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The Windup Girl
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Paperback - May 1 2010)
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