The Windup Girl (2009) [US][UK] by Paolo Bacigalupi is my second best speculative fiction read of 2010, even though it was published in 2009 and won the Nebula. The novel is set in a near-future dystopia ravaged by global warming, rising seas and quickly mutating viruses which destroy the food supply. Enemy and savior, shadowy American agricultural corporations keep the world alive through the development of virus resistant food products, but they are loosing the race.
The novel focuses on the political upheavals in Bangkok and the political and social ballet which takes place between the protagonists. The Windup Girl brings together some of the most colorful and entrancing characters to have graced the pages of spec fic - from genetically altered servants to unscrupulously ambitious immigrants and shadowy economic hitmem - readers will feel themselves on the front line of a spiritual, economic and social war whose outcome is anything but certain.
I have had a hard time pinning down exactly why I enjoyed this book so much. I can't point to any one criteria and say "this is what made the book great". There was no character that stole my heart or earned my hate. The setting was exquisitely believable but also unremarkable for all its realism. The writing was solid, consistent, enjoyable and even bordered on the poetic. Mr. Bacigalupi expertly avoided falling pray to the repetitive monologues so common to the genre. At the end of it all, I suppose that my delight came from the perfect storm of all these positives, most notably the dark vision Mr. Bacigalupi has for our future.
I highly recommend The Windup Girl to anyone who reads, anything, ever. No seriously, just read it. The fact that the average American reads only seven books a year should in no way stop you form making this one of your very own seven books. So drop the Stieg Larrson, pony up, and read something original and interesting for once. In case you would actually like to know what happens in the novel, you can check out this compelling review of The Windup Girl or this one here.
Interview with Author Lee Thompson
11 hours ago