The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi)
30 June 2021
Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of the rich. Engineered as slaves, soldiers and toys, they are the new underclass in a chilling near future where oil has run out, calorie companies dominate nations and bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.
And as Lake becomes increasingly obsessed with Emiko, conspiracies breed in the heat and political tensions threaten to spiral out of control. Businessmen and ministry officials, wealthy foreigners and landless refugees all have their own agendas. But no one anticipates the devastating influence of the Windup Girl.
Sinclair Manson (2 July 2021 19:55)
This was an interesting book that provoked a lot of discussion. A few people found it hard to get into and I wonder whether that's a downside of world building as the story goes, instead of frontloading it. On the upside, the setting felt very rich and convincing, and some online reviewers identifying themselves as Thai have praised its grasp of Thai culture. The choice of point of view characters was interesting, as was the switch between Jaidee and Kanya. Hock Seng, in particular, seems to have been included more for reasons of tone or theme than for the overall plot. All of the characters are compromised in one way or another, probably Anderson most of all, which makes opening the book with him another interesting choice. The same ambiguity runs through to the end of the book, which feels positive but is more suggestive than conclusive and not free of tensions. Overall, a very rewarding read.