Okay, this took longer than I anticipated, and there were a lot of factors to this. All I know is last month, I had posted about an undertaking where I was supposed to make quick comments about at least 25 books on my to-reads list. In any case, this one would be book #1. I am hoping to do this a bit more frequently, but such as it is, too much reading, and little opportunity to do so at the moment.
Anyway, for my first read, I’d gone into the science fiction route, and figured I might as well go with a familiar author: Paolo Bacigalupi.
I read Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker ages back, and had enjoyed it because it brought science fiction to a young adult level and kind of made it “hip” and “popular” (much like Neal Shusterman did with Unwind and James Dashner did with The Maze Runner). It was, at the time, for me, refreshing, and much like what I had hoped to read as far as YA scifi went–without all that YA romance that seemed to be prevalent in things I’d been reading lately. Anyway, to shorten this preface, I liked Ship Breaker, I enjoyed it, and I meant to read more Bacigalupi afterwards.
Of course, I’m kind of slow on the “continue to read an author” department, and not since Tamora Pierce have I actually been constant in my authoring ways (okay, I suppose Kristin Cashore might count, too, but in my defense, she only had the three books out). I do have favorites, though, but that’s besides the point.
And so I picked up The Windup Girl. Many reasons, including “oh, Asian backdrop” and “oh…an automaton!” come to mind. Other than that, I really didn’t know what to expect of the novel, just that from hearsay, it had been a less enjoyable write than Bacigalupi’s young adult book (or should I say books now? Yeah, I’m outdated).
The Windup Girl encompasses a story with multiple characters, taking place in a futuristic dystopic Thai kingdom fashioned with a 19th century mindset. Food shortage is a problem, what with genetic infections spreading across the world, rendering plants and even rice a remarkable commodity. “Calorie companies” have taken over in manufacturing, the Chinese are nothing but lowly “Yellow cards,” and the automatons are the “New People,” with their “stutter-stop” motions that render them nothing but subservient servants even lower than dirt.
A couple chapters in, I wasn’t sure where or why windup girl Emiko even mattered, other than the fact that she was just another “person” trying to survive within the society. Anyway, she was probably my least favorite of the viewpoints (which is sad, because I tend to like females, especially non-Western females), whereas the Tiger of Bangkok had some of the best scenes in the story.
As I mentioned in my uber-short goodreads review, I had a difficult time reading the book. This could be because I’m not used to a “hard scifi” mindset, or maybe it was my lack of interest for the other characters, but Windup Girl left me lukewarm. I did really like the backdrop and the conflict that occurred, but it wasn’t something I was overly psyched over. C’est la vie, I guess.
For me, all I really wanted every time I picked up to read the story was to eat a bucketful of rambutan:
Too bad the fruit’s hella expensive here in the good ole’ U S of A.