The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi takes place in a fascinating, gritty future. It's post-peak oil and post-global warming flooding. The landscape is ravaged by plagues of genetically-modifed diseases that affect crops and people alike. Great 'calorie companies' in the US and India dominate the global economy with the crops resistant to the plaques, but sterilized so that everyone must return to them for sustenance. The book takes place in a turbulent Thailand, struggling to remain independent even as the sea threatens on one hand and disease on the other.
There's a wide cast of characters and if I have a complaint it's that the plot got a little coincidental when some of the widely-flung characters began to interact with each other. It's a book of such strong and vivid ideas that I almost wonder if the book was a little longer than it needed to be as Bacigalupi wanted to show us more of this intriguing world, but was having to stretch his plot to do so.
But those are trifles. The book was certainly affecting. A third of the way of the way through, I was at work unpacking a shipment of harddrives and discarding handful after handful of styrofoam packaging and the waste of it all, compared to the threadbare, worn down world depicted in the book really hit me with a punch.
FuzzyCo grade: A