Tuesday, July 30, 2013



- Paolo Bacigalupi -

I've been meaning to read this book for about two years now. It was one of those highly acclaimed, sci-fi, Hugo award winning, much talked about books that 'everyone' needs to read. Which was why it was on my radar. This month is dystopian novel challenge month, which is my real motivation for finally getting around to cracking this one open. And, I have to say it is not a book that 'everyone' has to read. It is one of those books you will either love or hate.
Set in the near future the world is a wreck, mostly because of genetically modified foods and the genetically modified viruses that destroy that food. It is a tough look at corporate greed and the potential disasters we could face if the food scientist go too far. We have a contrasting crowd of characters from questionable corporate men, corrupt politicians, zealous military officers, slum dogs, illegal immigrants, to the 'windup girl' (a genetically modified test tube baby).
I have read a lot of this genre, the dystopian type book, and I have to say this one did feel original. Not your typical post apocalyptic journey through wasteland or an overly aggressive government who's mustached face is all up your face. The difference was subtle. Perhaps it was the writing style, how the differences between our real world and this futuristic dystopian world were told through examples in the storylines. There was no one thing in particular that I can pull from this novel, just the general feel I guess?
One thing I was not impressed with was the entire storyline. It didn't go anywhere. Actually that is not true, the storyline did a complete loop of the block. Started with a corrupt government, turned the corner with a revolution, came back to the original corrupt government situations and put it in park. It was a bit of a journey, but, nothing too mindblowing. Which surprised me since this book was a Hugo award winner.
On a bit of an aside note (more like rant) I haven't been impressed with any 'award' winning book that I have read in the past couple of years. You'd think if a book won an award it would be outstanding. But, I'm beginning to realize that is not the case. If a book wins an award that seems to mean only that the book is not terrible.
Another problem I had was the setting. Set in Thailand was a big downfall for me. I have very little knowledge of the country, it's people, the culture, even the geography. Paolo did a fair job of explaining the flooding problems, the neighboring countries, and the religion issues when needed. But, I didn't feel drawn into the setting at all. Which makes me think if it had been set on another planet or fantasy world it would have felt more real, had a bigger impact on me. Instead of leaving me half guessing and hoping for more.
So, a bit of a downer review I realize. But, I just didn't get the warm and fuzzies from this dystopian type book. Yes, that implies I do get the warm and fuzzies from other equally sad and scary tales. Again, the book was ok it just didn't meet my expectations.


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