I am definitely going through A Phase, you guys. I remember reading classics and literary fiction at one point, and hope to again, but for now all I want is YA ALL THE TIME. Which is maybe why I enjoyed the daylights out of Bacigalupi’s YA Ship-Breaker and was a little more feh towards The Wind-Up Girl. Like ugh, books for grown-ups.
So. It is The Future, and Everything Is Bad. Ever-evolving pests threaten all the remaining eatables and the ocean is trying to get you and drown your city (particularly if your city is Bangkok).
Every protagonist (and there are several) is a Bad Guy to another protagonist. You the reader are in a tight spot. Whom to root for? The mercenary and grasping business farang? His canny and conniving Malaysian assistant (who is, incidentally, the last of his gruesomely-murdered tribe)? The incorruptable and merciless Captain Jaidee, who thwarts the farang‘s attempts to do both shady and legitimate deals?
Or the eponymous wind-up girl, Emiko? Yeah, probably her, since she’s the closest thing this novel has to an innocent. As a genetically-modified, test-tube-grown New Person, she is somewhere between a robot and a slave and ends up as a prostitute (robo-slaves often do).
And comparison-reviewing is not always my favorite, but we don’t always get our favorite things, so. Where Ship-Breaker is RIPPING and ADVENTUROUS, this is thick and clotted with plot points. It’s clearly a more mature novel, but it wears its adult-face uncomfortably. And I know, the lauds! They are heaped! You can hardly see the novel for all the lauds! But it was not my particular slice of dysto-pie.
(Also, do not give it to your young teen in the same way you would give Ship-Breaker to your young teen because there is some unpleasant sexxoring.)
Interesting and fine, but I think it tried to do too much. Seven caterpillars.