I cannot tell you how excited I was to be reading and reviewing this book. It’s been on my wish list since it hit the shelves, it’s won awards, it’s had rave reviews and I was looking forward to delving into a rich and vivid world of ‘heart thudding action sequences, sordid sex and enough speculation for two lesser novels’.
Which is one of the reasons I was so disappointed that I didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, the premise for this novel is amazing, and a hauntingly good idea, I just found that I had to work too hard to read it, and in the process any enjoyment I had disappeared.
It’s set in a distant dystopian future where a plague has wiped out natural food sources and only genetically made food is available. This is a great hook–I wanted to know more about this, but the opening chapter starts off with Anderson a ‘Calorie’ man combing the streets of Bangkok on the hunt for new genetic food for his company.
I think the style of The Windup Girl is what has me so stumped; because the storyline really interests me. I found it so hard to get into and read, mostly because of the pseudo Japanese words and made up creatures with Japanese sounding names which confused me to the point that I wasn’t sure they were real or made up for the story.
There was no explanation for the world or the food and creatures in the beginning. Nothing to explain the little terms and idiosyncrasies; nothing to make the reading journey smooth so I would slip into the story and become part of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want or need everything explained to me straight away, nor do I need great long winded expositions explaining the ins and outs, but I needed something extra than what I was given to help me understand the world.
I’m the first to admit that my knowledge of Asian languages, places and history is very rusty (mind the pun, those who have read this will understand!). Maybe if I had a better understanding of these things then I wouldn’t have found The Windup Girl so difficult to read.
By the time Emiko, the windup girl, who is as man-made as the food everybody eats, turns up in the book, I didn’t care. She’s very interesting, and how she differs from natural humans is really clever, and takes the Japanese children’s toys to a whole new chilling level, but my mind had already started to leak by then, that I didn’t get enjoyment of discovering her life and journey than I could have.
She almost reminded me of the robots in the movie AI, but a story based on the seedier side, that’s barely touched in the movie. I really can’t tell you how disappointed I am that I didn’t enjoy this.
Maybe if Emiko’s introduction was the opening chapter I would have been hooked enough to read through the parts I found difficult and not care about it so much, but because it opened with the rather clinical and unemotional Anderson, added to a world more alien than a fantasy world to me, and I found my head spinning and I was having to reread sections because I was unsure what was actually happening.
To me, a novel should be a joy to read; you should forget you’re actually reading and be transported into that story. Maybe this supposedly SF literary masterpiece was just too clever for me. I know I am disagreeing with many people, but I really felt like it was written with too much self awareness and a dash of pretence. A whole lotta world and not enough world building.
BUY THE BOOK