Book: The Wind-up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
It took a while to get into this book. I’m listening to it, not reading it, so that makes a difference in how it’s experienced. In my view, reading is better, you can go at your own pace, reread a section if you want to, go back and check for something, etc. Listening takes more effort; dry or slow-moving sections are more boring.
About one-third of the way through I started to listen more carefully to The Windup Girl and now that I’m in the second half I’m closer to sitting on the edge of my seat, and I really care about the outcome.
In Bacigalupi’s post-oil future every calorie is counted and carbon expenditures really matter. Seas have risen and droughts and crop failures have created a world where only highly modified GMO crops can survive to provide sustenance for humans.
The Thai Kingdom has weathered the storm better than most countries and here our story takes place, with a Japanese “wind-up” as an extremely sympathetic character. Wind-ups are genetically modified humans who are considered by the Thai people to be unnatural, soulless, even disgusting.
There is a lot of racism – the Thais disdain foreigners – but even worse, there is a total lack of compassion for living things.
I have noticed this in Bacigalupi’s other writing: His socially collapsed realities are filled with people who must struggle to survive and compassion is something that has been left in the wake of that world of leisure that is no more.
The wind-up girl has one friend, a white man, a foreigner, and their attraction to each other is the closest thing to love that this book has. So I ask myself, do I want to keep reading Bacigalupi’s books even though there is no “love”? And it’s a resounding yes.
The reader has a way of finding the tiniest salvation and hanging on, as long as the rest of the story is engaging, and it certainly is in this case.