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Book review: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

I start­ed this book with high hopes. Af­ter al­l, this was a book by a new-ish au­thor that had won Hugo Award for Best Nov­el (2010), Neb­u­la Award for Best Nov­el (2009), Lo­cus Award for Best First Nov­el (2010), John W. Camp­bell Memo­ri­al Award (2010), Comp­ton Crook Award (2010) Comp­ton Crook Award (2010), Goodreads Choice Award Nom­i­nee for Sci­ence Fic­tion (2009). Im­pres­sive, uh?

Well, I don't know what they saw in it. Shal­low char­ac­ter­s, per­va­sive fa­tal­ism dis­guised as depth, mprob­a­ble slang ust be­cause it sounds cool (windup girl? Re­al­ly? That's how they will call ge­net­i­cal­ly en­gi­neered hu­mans in the fu­ture? Windup­s? Yeah, right).

Oh, and it's full of ori­en­tal­is­m. And of things like im­plant­ing gene dogs in­to windups to make them loy­al and sub­servien­t. And ghost­s. Oh, crap, al­most noth­ing in this nov­el worked for me. Most pages had me slap­ping my­self on the fore­head.

I am­not against a sol­id dose of weird. I like weird. I read Miéville, for crap's sake. But this is not weird, it's con­trived.

And don't get me start­ed on the end. The end is such an ob­vi­ous anal­o­gy to Eden it al­most made me puke. It's like the end of Bat­tlestar Galac­ti­ca, but set on the fu­ture. And with la­dy­boys.

I had a bet­ter time read­ing H. Rid­er Hag­gard's "Al­lan Quater­main", which I saw men­tioned in the awe­some se­ries "The vic­to­ri­an Hugos". Old and dat­ed? Sure. But I would vote for it in­stead of "The Windup Girl" ev­ery day, and twice if they let me.