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on 14 July 2017
I was expecting better given the awards.
For me the ideas were just not very good. How can everything be powered by giant elephants if food is so scarce and controlled? Why do springs need to be bathed in algae? How do springs store energy anyway? Ok its a coal powered car - I get it. Yes coal powered tanks too, very good thank you.
Its good that this story considers the consequences of climate change, I wish there was more about what the Expansion was etc.. The genetic engineering ideas were good, definitely.
But some really cheezy parts e.g. when Hock goes to visit Jabba the Hutt aka the Dung Lord. What every happened to him any way? The Kanya group of people were poorly described; I didn't care about Thai boxing and what they got up to. The 'bullet time' when Miko moves fast was cheezy. As was having her her as a pliant sex toy who gets ideas.
The descriptions of Thailand were not particularly evocative; I;ve visited that part of the world. And all the italics for foreign references got tedious.
Also, the tone of the narrative felt slightly chinglishified. You know; like abit of caricature of Asian ways of speaking that also leaked into the narrative language itself.
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on 11 April 2016
A brilliant dystopian novel, set in a near-future Bangkok after the impact of climate change, peak carbon (oil and coal), and the unleashing of genetically modified crop diseases by seed companies to strengthen their monopolies over food. A fabulous detailed and nuanced portrayal of an utterly plausible future world, complete with springs as an energy store, genetically modified elephants as a source of motive power, 'new people' created as a servant class, and lots more. Great the way it allows the future dystopia to have rough edges...corruption, ethnic conflict, bribery, tensions between different government agencies...so often dystopias seem to imagine a state entity that's perfectly efficient. This is the opposite. By the time I'd finished this I felt like I'd made a major discovery, though I seem to have come late to this particular party. It felt a bit like discovering William Gibson - well, I came late to that party too.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 9 January 2017
I bought this on a recommendation and was, initially, disappointed. The start of the book is anything but engaging. Each chapter is about 30 minutes long but feels longer due to the writing style. I was very tempted to just put down the book after a few chapters. I persevered though and I'm REALLY glad I did. Once you reach about 25%, the book picks up and becomes much more interesting. After about 50-75%, the book is just exploding with awesomeness and i really got into his world. The setting is dystopian, but feels so damn real.

I'd recommend if you like Paolo's other books and think you can get through the initial character building chapters. They felt like a chore, but the endgame was worth the pain and time. By the end, I had completely bought in to his universe.
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on 13 January 2016
A very interesting read. I loved all the back story and the world-building. Thought the Bangkok setting was fascinating. I used to live in Bangkok and I have to say, author captured the flavour of the city perfectly. The future Bangkok he envisages was perfectly believable for me, the sights, the smells, and yes the heat.
And the future world he has created was thought-provoking. Who knows where genetically modifying crops will lead us? What climate change will bring? What havoc avaricious western agricultural corporations will wreck? In some ways it reminded me of Atwood's Oryx & Crake - not a bad thing as it's a great book. But there's more: genetically modified humans, protectionism versus free trade, political infighting in Thailand, pogroms against ethnic minorities...
Author uses a lot of Thai transliterations - not a problem for me, but just to let you know.

An inventive book - relevant to today. Enjoyed it even if it made uncomfortable reading.
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on 9 January 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this impressive award winning novel by Paolo Bacigalupi. It impressed me on every level with the complex and engaging plot, the believable characters, the excellent prose and how unpredictable it was. The book is classified as a scifi novel but it encompasses many more genre categories than that. The book has its fair share of disturbing and horrific scenes as well as humour, mystery and action. For me this is easily a five star read. I will miss not being immersed in this book now that I have read it but I'll be thinking about it for days to come. Highly recommended indeed.
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on 27 June 2016
Complex and fascinating. Yes I can see how some folks may have given up early but they have missed a gem by doing so. There is a complicated plot to build, a dark future to explain, many characters and sub plots to develop before the actions starts.Add the differences in cultures and for the Westerner there is a lot to take on board. This just makes it richer and more satisfying. Be patient and you will be rewarded. My only criticism is that I imagined a showdown with the windups, a little more hand to hand combat would have been the icing on the cake for me but it is still a definite 5 stars
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on 6 May 2017
Original, dynamic story telling with engaging characters and a dystopia which truly captures the fetid bustle of tropics Thailand.
I read this some years after having lived there and was transported right back to Bangkok such is Bacigalupi's story telling prowess.
My only fault with this masterpiece of dystopian literature is that it quite obviously leaves it wide open for a sequel with stories hanging too much in the open air. Would have liked a few more conclusions to some of the story lines but was nonetheless left very entertained and happy by this worthwhile read.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 April 2013
The Wind-Up Girl is set in a highly dystopian future. Global warming has flooded many of the world's major cities. The oil has run out, leading to a temporary hiatus in global expansion. Out of control genetic engineering has decimated crops, and destroyed whole species of animals.
As the novel opens, US companies are seeking to kick start growth once more by developing physical power sources and by finding resistant plant an animal strains. Thailand stands alone against this new economic imperialism with tightly controlled borders. However the edifice is cracking as forces which favour greater trade vie with fervent isolationists.

The dystopian feel is enhanced by the almost total lack of any sympathetic characters. It is difficult to identify with an aggressive American expansionist, his criminal sidekick, seeking to betray him, the facist Thai policeman, his two faced deputy. The list of unlikeable low lives is endless. At the heart of this maelstrom, and key to the fates of all is the wind-up girl, an artificially created Japanese concubine.

The Wind-up girl is clearly influenced by the early works of William Gibson, seeking to do with bio technology what Gibson did with cyberspace. The book is also reminiscent of Simon Morden's "Equations of Life" with a city torn apart by gradually escalating violence building to anarchistic destruction.

The Wind-Up girl is essentially an entertaining hi-tech thriller with a rapidly twisting plot. On the downside by the end it twists so many times it is in danger of disappearing up its own fundament. Also, some of the sexual scenes border on the exploitative, gratuitously graphically violent.

All in all, this is worth reading, as it does deliver that increasingly rare thing - originality.
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on 29 January 2015
It's been a few years since I first read "The Windup Girl" yet I'm still consistently referencing it in all manner of topics and recommending it to just about anyone. The world that Bacigalopi has created sticks vividly in the mind and will remain relevant for many more years to come, as all truly great Sci-Fi does. If you're a fan of the genre, then you owe it to yourself to pick up what is certainly a modern classic; if Sci-Fi isn't quite your thing, the imagery and intrigue woven throughout the story will still keep you riveted. The setting is both novel and deeply interesting, characters are well developed and the philosophical undertones on nationalism and identity are fascinating.

Honestly, I couldn't recommend it enough.
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on 24 July 2013
I have recently starting dipping my toe into dystopian fiction with Margaret Atwood and Liz Jensen, Paolo really is full immersion. This is an excellent book, rich in colour, smells, sounds, characters and fast paced story development. Set in a Bangkok of the future where the world has been devastated by constantly mutating plagues, wars and climate change. Oil has run out, the kingdom of Thailand for its very survival has cut itself off from the rest of the world. It is a seedy, filthy, corrupt, cruel and dangerous kingdom. Everything we take for granted today, our technology, our food, comforts, travel and health have been destroyed and replaced by famine, limited food stocks, coal power, manual labour. The 'evil' multi national corporation giants of today are the calorie and genetically modified food companies of the future who hold countries ransom for foods. However the world is battling all the time against the mutating plagues that keep destroying foods and killing humans. We see that Thailand managed to engineer its own seedbank which has made it independent of the external Calorie companies, Anderson Lake a 'calorie man' comes to Thailand under cover as a factory manager to investigate and hopefully gain access to that seedbank. Emiko is a despised genetically modified 'new person' a beautiful Japanese creation that has been abandoned in a kingdom which views her as an abhorrence. To me, Emiko is seen to represent the hatred the Thai people have for the scale of development and bio engineering that has brought the world to this sad state - although ironicly they use the bio engineered Megodont (new elephant) as a significant source of labour. Emiko, Anderson, other players and high ranking government officials come together in a story about basic human greed, corruption, cruelty and their consequences . There is redemption and tenderness in this story too, perhaps even room for a follow-up. I would very much like to see more of the authors vision of world and the Thai people after these events.
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