The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. I heard about this book a while ago, and like many other books that I’ve read I bought it because it sounded intriguing. The book had some interesting aspects, but it didn’t work out for me all that well.
Stand Alone book
The book follows 4 different characters: Anderson Lake, a man who manages a factory while searching for sources of genetic material, Hock Seng, a refugee and secretary who works behind the scenes, Emiko, the windup girl for who the book is named, and Jaidee, a well known and very well respected member of the military. I think the most interesting character was Emiko, but it was in many ways less due to her character and more to what she is being a windup. A windup is a genetically engineered human. In Emiko’s case, she is engineered to be a servant and she originally worked for a Japanese businessman but was then abandoned. Overall I didn’t care much for the characters in this book, they were well developed but were fairly static throughout the book.
The most interesting part of the book. The book is set in a future Thailand. Most of the plants in the world are no longer capable of growing because of several genetically engineered viruses that attack the plants. Because of this, there are far fewer people in the world and the main power in the world outside of Thailand is that of several companies who produce genetically engineered food that is immune to the diseases. As scientists have begun to genetically engineer food, they also genetically engineer animals such as the megodonts (essentially elephants that are used for labor) and different humans called windups.
The four characters that we follow are mostly separate throughout the book. They are all working for their own separate causes and in many cases work behind the scenes from what the others see. My problem with the plot was that the characters do very little to cause the overall events. Most of the characters actions are reactions to what is happening around them. The single biggest action for the plot committed by a viewpoint character is not planned and is essentially a reaction to being pushed around.
I really tried to, but I just could not get into this book. The worldbuilding is very well done and the high point of the book, but the setting cannot drive a story.
I rarely put books down without finishing them, but this book came close. I can’t suggest this book too highly.