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  • Published: Portland, Or. : Night Shade, c2009.
  • Year Published: 2009
  • Edition: 1st ed.
  • Description: 359 p. ; 24 cm.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 9781597801577
  • 1597801577


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The windup girl

by Bacigalupi, Paolo.

There are currently 2 available

Where To Find It

Call number: Science Fiction

Available Copies: Downtown 1st Floor, Pittsfield Adult

Additional Details

What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits? And what happens when this forces humanity to the cusp of post-human evolution? This is a tale of Bangkok struggling for survival in a post-oil era of rising sea levels and out-of-control mutation.

Community Reviews

Didn't grab me

This book just didn't do much for me. For the first third, I was continually unsure whether I was just going to give up on it. The world is politically and economically messy, and it just wasn't clear enough to me to follow and care. Up until about three-quarters of the way through, I still wasn't entirely sure who everyone was and how they related to each other. Only toward the very end did the story and characters come together enough that I made sense of it and actually cared what happened.


I plodded through this book, since it ended up on a list of the 20 best dystopian novels...it felt like it could never really get up to steam for me. Fully the first two-thirds of the book I more tolerated than enjoyed; there was a lot of minutiae and language issues that seemed like they got more in the way of the plot than furthered it.

With about 70 pages left to read, things felt like they were improving, but each new "twist" left me feeling disappointed, like there just wasn't enough to end on a bang with. It also felt kind of rushed, compared to the detailed meandering of the beginning of the book. Mostly though, I was sad that the titular Windup Girl was used just as much as a pawn by the author, as by the people denounced in the story for their treatment of her.

Dull early, riveting late, unsympathetic but deep characters


The Windup Girl is a soft apocalypse novel set in a future in which climate change has destroyed nations and changed the world. Combustion technology is mostly history...everything is powered by hi-tech springs. The evil oil companies have been supplanted by vile genetics corporations that released engineered crop-destroying diseases in order to take control of the world's food supply.

In Thailand, a pseudo-American undercover corporate agent plots to steal that country's resources and force open its markets. A Trade Ministry official plots a revolution. A captain in the Environment Ministry--charged with preventing both human and crop epidemics from breaking out--is less corrupt than the rest of the nation's power brokers, which makes him a hero of the people. And a "wind-up" girl--a genetically engineered Japanese mostly-human servant--is systematically abused for profit until she snaps and changes the course of Thailand's future.

I was actually pretty bored through the first half of the book. It plods. The author uses a lot of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese words as if their meanings are obvious in context. I guess sometimes they are. NONE of the characters are easy to identify with, they're all unsympathetic and self-involved. They were well-drawn though, with believable, complex motivations; self-involved in different ways and for different reasons. I think that's why I stuck with this book even though I was bored. It showed promise. (Plus I liked the kink-spring technology that everything runs on in Bacigalupi's post-oil future.)

It got more interesting. Political maneuvering, inter-ministry espionage, corporate espionage, megadont attacks, betrayal, schemes and plots and surprise revelations eventually combined to turn a dull book in a fascinating setting into a fascinating story. Weirdly, I liked the inconclusiveness of a lot of the plot elements as well. A second wind-up girl is just forgotten. The truth about a dead character who talks to a living one is never addressed. A kidnapped woman's fate is never revealed. And after the Trade Ministry defeats the Environment Ministry in the climactic revolution, the author throws two more twists into the mix that make everything up to those points almost irrelevant. I found it oddly satisfying. If there's ever a sequel, I'll read it.

Facinating future. Missing reader connection to characters

The setup for the story was very interesting - the possible future laid out was darkly compelling. However I never warmed up to the characters. I didn't care enough about them and the whole book started to drag when the connection was obviously missing. Again, the ideas were interesting, and if you are into explorations of how our future might play out on earth, then certainly pick this up. But I sometimes need the dance of story to pull me through, and I found this book a little lacking there.

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