At first I thought the book was a little slow, then as events unfolded, I found myself thinking back to the earlier chapters. The characters were engrossing and very real and the future presented was believable.
This listen was good enough that instead of listening only on my commute, I would keep it playing after I got home.
I am not typically a sci-fi reader. I was simply tired of my usual reads and wanted something different. Although the reviews for this book are highly polarized - I loved it. Great story, many layers, unexpected twists, very well written and developed. The narration by Jonathan Davis is simply the best. Listening to him alone is enough reason to recommend this book. This is the first 5 star rating I have given in the 2-3 years I have been a member of Audible.com.
I didn't know what I was going to get with this book. What I got was a great listen and a thought provoking concept that I still think about several months after having listened to it. I'm a big Sci-fi buff and it's unusual to run into truly unique concepts.
This book shows a very possible future where we have burnt out all the energy sources we had buried in the ground. How would you transport yourself in such a world? How would you feed yourself? This book creates such a world through inference. It doesn't spend a lot of time telling you how things got the way they are, nor does it preach green at you. It focuses on what life would be like in such a place.
If you're looking for something different and unusual, this book is for you.
Great narrator - reminded me of Muller. I absolutely loved the story. Follows 4 characters during a revolution in the future. The future however felt believeable and scary. I actually saw an ad yesterday about using algae for fuel. It kind of spooked me out. You do have to pay attention to the details in the beginning, but it is worth it in the end. Congratulations for Paolo, he has a bright future.
Most dystopian visions suffer from either a lack of a credible transition phase from the present to the timeframe of the story or the description of the future is too shallow and sparse to convey a sense of believability that leads to immersion in the new world. In The Windup Girl, PB delivers what can be described as a textbook example of how to "do it right." In this case, global warming has led to rising oceans (placing littoral communities at risk) and environmental collapse. Man has already compounded the problem by attempting to "gene hack" plants for the food supply which has led to new and potentially fatal diseases. Cheap energy sources are also gone; while electricity is still available, the world operates in a quasi-mechanical state where human and animal energy is utilized. Because of disease, nation states have isolated themselves which has led to global economic collapse. The story begins in the early stages of a new expansion and takes place exclusively in Thailand.
Part of the appeal is the depth and breadth of the varied elements that go into crafting a complex societal structural. PB captures all the various elements in their gory detail: nationalistic protectionist behaviors, foreign nationals regarded as undesirable aliens, greedy imperialistic foreigners out to steal national resources, along with the common folk with retention of religious superstitions such as Buddhism, purveyors of vices, and the governmental infighting & politics. Into this milieu comes a "cereal" man who is secretly pursuing seed stock that may provide new genetic backgrounds resistant to disease and a "windup girl" who is an example of "new people" or genetically engineered humans produced by Japan to cope with their declining populations and at the same time, regarded by the Thais as abominations without souls.
While the early sections suggest a love story (a la West Side Story) between a foreigner and the windup girl in a land where neither is warmly received, the deeper exploration is the human struggle for stability and sustainability under conditions where little is sustainable. With the ever evolving biological threat, even that which is regarded as human may not survive. The dilemma is between the preservation of practices because of familiarity, comfort, and historical legacy versus the need for adaptation by both the individual and society. Refreshingly, all the expected human foibles are present. There are no winners, only the recognition of genetic survival as the only truly long term goal.
The narration is simply superb with comprehensive range of genders, ages, and ethnic groups. The flow and dramatic presentation is most appropriate and viscerally adds to the listening experience. Kudos to the narrator for an audible science fiction masterpiece.
Bacigalupi is very imaginative in The Windup Girl. Imagining a future where the growing of crops has been dominated by genetic engineers in the Midwestern US that release terrible plagues to ensure the viability of their own goods, he gives a chilling view of what might happen after petroleum reserves run out and global warming has flooded major cities. Very well written, from a variety of different viewpoints. I loved Jonathan Davis' narration--he did a very good job creating a unique voice for all characters and mimicking accents characters from various locales in Asia. The Windup Girl herself is very empathetic. As a warning, there are very graphic parts in the book, especially in regards to the profession the Windup Girl is forced into after she is abandoned by her original owner. Still, I highly recommend it. I gave it 4 stars because there were a few times when it seemed to drag a bit and was a little repetitive. But it's a great listen if you've got the time.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
I burned this onto 16 cds. It was a Nebula winner and had great reviews. I listened to the first three cds and was ready to throw it out. Then I reread the reviews and all these people gave it 5 stars and said it was a slow starter, but it would pick up halfway and would be worth your wait. I will admit it got better at the halfway point, but not a lot better and it soon went down hill after that. I can not believe this won an award, but then I am not a fan of Gaimen, who also seems to win lots of awards. There are hints of Asimov's robot series and Pohl's Space Merchants in this. This being PB's first work, I might read some shorter works of his in the future, but not real soon and I am not going to spend a lot of money on his work.
This is like a Graham Greene novel, set in a future world in which bioengineering and energy shortages have altered everyday life a lot. The Kingdom of Thailand is a self-isolated nation whose independence from the "calorie companies" that supply the world's food (engineered so that customers can't grow it themselves and are stuck paying the calorie companies through the nose) is made possible by rigorous environmental regulations and prohibitions against imports like the title character.
There's scheming, double-crosses, conspiracies, corruption, spying and everyone is motivated by a desperate self-interest. Because there are so many characters, many of whom don't come together until the end, it takes this book a while to build up momentum. Once it does, though, it's quite exciting, and even when you're not sure where it's going, the narrator's superb performance, subtly modifying his tone of voice with each character's point of view, and adding lots of small touches (he'll narrated the description of someone going through a bag looking for something exactly as the person himself would speak while doing it, for example), make it all very vivid.
To get a feeling for this book, Mr. Bacigalupi has released various short fiction stories on the web (calorie man, yellow card man). This is a fantastic book. Its about an uncertain time in the future where corporate greed and unconcerned use of resources by everyone has led to a partial reversion of civilization. There is a bit of getting use to listening to foreign names and words, but beyond that the story is very well laid out. There are branching stories intricately woven together. There are no cop-outs, sticky situations aren't magically resolved, and the ending is fitting with the feeling of the story.
I hope not, but many things in this story may come to pass. A strange, fascinating tale. Best listened to slowly I'd say. Story is complicated and dismal but a terrific adventure. Do yourself a favor and listen....