The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is one of those stories that you read, find it kind of boring in the beginning, manage to read some more and eventually, you’ll find yourself in this pattern of returning for more yet you don’t really know why. This dystopian novel set in a futuristic Thailand will at first have you scratching your head but if you stick with it long enough, the payout will be quite satisfying. I love dystopian type settings and so when I read about how this world was structured around a world where of all things calories is actually limited, I definitely counted myself in. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a setting similar to this and especially in a futuristic, although bleak, Thailand.
In the Windup Girl, we follow the story of about 3-4 different characters, each having their own motives and hidden agendas. The story does start off a bit slow but oddly, there was just enough in there to keep me glued to the book. I particularly enjoyed the story of Hock Seng, although I’m sure most readers would probably disagree. I really liked how they ended his story in the end. This book can be considered science fiction but bear in mind that that is not its focal point. You’ll get some futuristic ideas and themes but for the most part, the majority of the book stays grounded.
Although I mentioned that this book is a bit slow in the beginning, most reviewers probably have already pointed out that the later half of the book definitely picked up its pace. It’s as if the author saved up all his energy for the buildup and then releases everything towards the end. I’m not really a big fan of this strategy but I don’t believe it hampered the story that much. One of the biggest complaint I did have with this novel though is that I just wished the author would spend a bit more time giving the readers a picture of what happened in the past that led them to the state they are in now. There are small hints here and there but nothing that really gives you a sense of the past history. To be truthful, I was a bit sad to see the novel end. It did came a bit abruptly but it was still satisfying nonetheless. I’m wondering if the ending was a setup for a sequel! It definitely could go that way if the author intends to.