I have never experienced such gritty and descriptive world-building as I have with Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WINDUP GIRL. You could almost taste the heat as Bacigalupi described the post-apocalyptic Asian landscape. Bacigalupi has a way of blending realities, the dystopian squalor with the science fiction advancement, the way you didn’t know who was a good guy or a bad guy and the on-your-toes plot twists that had my head whirling. THE WINDUP GIRL. is a grown-up dystopian and a must-read if you fancy yourself a fan of the genre. I have to say this has to be one of the finest modern science fiction novels I’ve read.


The lands have been racked with bio-engineered diseases and horrendous natural disasters. Bangkok is a city on the verge of disaster, exploited and two feet from being overrun by the ocean. The people live in fear of infected foods and the calorie is the new currency. Anderson Lake, one of the hated “calorie men” from the West is in Bangkok in search of extinct food to use for profit for his company AgriGen. He uses an AgriGen factory as a front, but his real motives is to find lost foods that he believes Bangkok might have.

In a backdoor meeting with an unsavory brothel owner he is introduced to Emiko. THE WINDUP GIRL. Emiko is a bio-engineered “New Person.” She was grown in a crèche in Japan, created to become the plaything of rich Japanese businessmen. She is bred to serve, for her beauty and her uniqueness. Most humans distrust her, thinking she is soulless. When her master grew tired of her he abandoned her in a city that deems her illegal. Her new master is harsh and abusive but there is no other way to survive, especially when her every movement is a sign that she is New People. As the city goes mad, enraged from corruption and political maneuvering, Emiko only wants one thing…to be free. Because even though she is New People, she still wants.

Bacigalupi has to have one of the most unique voices that I’ve experienced in an author. His blending of the Asian culture with this gritty dystopian was something that I’ve never experienced before and probably never will. You could practically smell, touch and taste his descriptions. I can only compare THE WINDUP GIRL with the greats, such as BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984. The only down points I found in this novel was the almost abstract broadness of the writing. Bacigalupi plunges you in head first with very little explanation of back-story on most of the plot-lines so I found myself feeling that I missed something. Also, because of the Asian names it was sometimes hard to keep track of the multitude of characters. This worked for me as an audio book and the narrator Jonathan Davis handled pronunciation quite well. This is one book that I would highly recommend in audio format.


Highly recommended for fans of the dystopian genre. If you’ve read and enjoyed a BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984 and would like a grittier meal, give this one a try. This is an adult novel and has a multitude of heavy themes, rape, violence, sex and debauchery. For mature audiences only.


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