Book 35 of 52: "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi

If I had only one word to describe this book, I think I’d call it “harrowing.”

If I had a few more words, I might call it “a harrowing, twisted look at life in the third world in a plague-ravaged, genetically twisted post-apocalyptic, calorie-starved future.”

Yeah.  That sums it up pretty well.
The Windup Girl weaves together several interconnected threads in the Kingdom of Thailand, some years into the future.  And a lot’s gone wrong.  The sea level has risen, and pumps must run continuously to hold the water back from flooding the city.  Genetically engineered plagues have killed off most of the natural plant life, and calories must come from generipped, bioengineered new foodstuffs that are created by companies.  The oil has run out, so all power comes from people – who need their power from precious calories.

Doesn’t sound fun, does it?

Some of the main characters include Anderson, a “calorie man” working to bend Thailand to his biotechnology company’s interests, Emiko, a genetically created individual known as a “windup”, Kanya, an officer in Thailand’s Environmental Ministry who seeks to fight the incoming plagues, and Hock Seng, a Chinese migrant who fled to Thailand after his family was slaughtered in Malaysia.

There’s a lot of violence, plenty of death and destruction, and some parts of the book that are nearly X rated, but the story is gripping and compelling.  Bacigalupi has said that he’s not likely to do a sequel, which disappoints me, but the book is still amazing.

Time to read: about 10 hours.

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