Title: The Windup Girl
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Genre: Science Fiction
Recommendation: An apocalypse novel of great strength.
Summary: Oil has been all used up and a series of plagues left the world grasping for every possibility of growing food and looking for energy resources. After the Contraction and ethnic purges, economy is looking to expand once more. In the Kingdom of Thailand a group of people may change the country's course.
Reactions: I have seen many positive reviews of The Windup Girl prior to picking up the book. The novel has definitely lived up to it's hype. The Windup Girl places the reader in a very atmospheric post-apocalytpic world of Thailand and introduces you to a wonderfully real and diverse cast of characters.
The characters in this book are probably my favourite aspect of it. We first meet Anderson Lake who is an American "calorie-man". He lives in Thailand undercover as a factory owner, but in reality he is searching for a way to access Thai's innovations in plague-resistant food production. From the very first pages his behaviour showcases that he is not a nice man, but as the book goes on, he actually becomes the anti-hero against a backdrop of characters who do some very questionable things.
The title of the novel refers to a genetically engineered human girl. Her kind is despised and feared in Thailand, while being cultivated in Japan. She has been abandoned in Thailand by her Japanese master and is now kept as a novelty in a brothel.
There are several other rather unique characters whose lives end up connected throughout the book. The plot involves political upheaval as well as personal struggles by many of the characters. The book is very well paced and kept my attention very well despite its considerable length.
The world that Bacigalupi draws feels surprisingly real and possible. There's depth to the narrative and twist of the story. The mood of the story is grim and there are many rather gritty scenes in the book, not to mention adult content. However, none of it is gratuitous and together it presents a powerful message. Definitely a book with a punch behind it.