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A Reader of Fictions: Cropduster - Pearl Jam

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cropduster - Pearl Jam

The Windup Girl

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Pages: 359
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:
What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits? And what happens when said bio-terrorism forces humanity to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man"( Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these questions.

First Sentence: "'No! I don't want the mangosteen.'"

For years, I have been looking forward to reading this book. I did check it out from the library once and read a couple of pages, but I gave up and moved on to something else. I hoped that now, with a broader experience of dystopias, I might get into the story and appreciate its marvelousness. Sadly, I did not. Were I not incredibly stubborn, I would have DNFed this early on.

Tons of brilliant people that I have the utmost respect for love this novel. Honestly, they're smarter than I am, I expect, so it could be that I just don't have what it takes to fully appreciate The Windup Girl. That said, I can appreciate the depth and breadth of Bacigalupi's world building. Many novels feel sort of slapdash, as though some things have not really been though out at all, but every bit of this has obviously been fine-tuned and worked out with precision.

In fact, there is such focus on the world building that I occasionally felt rather like I was reading a newspaper or a text book on that period of history. The whole book was a description overload for me. Perhaps if I had an interest in science, I would apprecciate all of those details, but, with science always having been my least favorite subject, I had trouble focusing or caring.

In The Windup Girl, mankind has, through the constant genetic modification of food, created new diseases and is having difficulty producing food. Conglomerates that produce new disease-free strains essentially run the world. The Windup Girl takes place in Thailand, where Anderson Lake has been sent to investigate the appearance of fruits previously disappeared. They are hiding a seedbank and his company wants access. In addition to the science, there's a ton of politics, which also really is not my thing.

The Windup Girl follows a fairly significant cast of main characters, not a single one of whom I cared a fig about. In fact, I'm not even entirely sure whether I was supposed to like them or not. Were some of them protagonists and some antagonists? Other than Emiko, the windup girl, being a protagonist, I'm really not sure. One of the characters dies fairly early on and I had absolutely no reaction to his death. Was I supposed to feel sad? Was I supposed to be glad? I legitimately have no clue.

The title character, the windup girl, proved most interesting, but even her sections got more boring for me as the novel went on. Actually, I think the only reason I cared what happened to her was that I felt pity for her. As she gained in power, she seemed to need my sympathy less and I was able to focus on just how little personality she really has. Admittedly, this is not her fault, considering that she is an engineered human, made to obey.

While I have no doubt of Bacigalupi's great talent, this novel, at least, was not for me. I failed to have any sort of emotional reaction to this book whatsoever; I was just bored. I hope that his young adult dystopia, Ship Breaker, is more accessible. The Windup Girl will appeal to readers who delight in detailed world building.

Favorite Quote: "'Sex and hypocrisy. They go together like coffee and cream.'"

"Light green to green, dark green, brown..
Every life is falling down
Brown to black, it's coming back
Dies to be part of the ground
Seed to seedling, root to stem

Remember: Every comment on a post during Dystopian August is an entry to win one of fourteen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels IF you've filled out the form from this post.

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Blogger Nori said...

I've heard really good things about this one too. Did you read his YA dystopia, Ship Breaker? It took me a while to get into it, but I eventually loved that one. Maybe he works better as a YA writer? You made me want to not read this one or at least get it as a library book.

August 22, 2012 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

You have commitment girl, seeing how you felt about this novel I definitely would not have been able to finish it. I'm all about great world building but there has to be more to it, it's not good when it starts feeling like you're in class reading a text book. Great review, sorry you didn't enjoy this one more.

August 22, 2012 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger M.A.D. said...

Well, appreciate the honest review and have to say that I would be attracted to this book by it's cover. I probably would read this, I really enjoy detailed world building (and Ship Breaker has been on my radar for a while) lol

Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

August 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Nope, I haven't read Ship Breaker yet, but I still plan to. I really hope that it's a bit more accessible.

August 22, 2012 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Sometimes I know that if I don't finish something, I will just try to read it again later, so it's better to just get it over with, rather than continually rereading the first half. :-p

August 22, 2012 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

The cover's beautiful. You might really like this! Give it a try!

August 22, 2012 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Oh now I'm torn - I love intricate world-building but I'm also a fickle woman - I need some kind of entertainment in the world-building!

I'm still going to keep it on my wishlist, but will be giving it that wary one-eyebrow raised kinda look.....

August 23, 2012 at 4:59 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You should definitely keep it on your wishlist. You like quite a few things I don't. This might work for you! And, if it doesn't, you should be able to tell pretty early on and stop reading. :)

August 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM  

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