The Windup Girl - a unique dystopian tale.
In the 23rd century rising oceans and diseases that rapidly mutate have become a real threat to both humans and food crops, and only the offerings of the calorie companies have kept humanity alive. These hated corporations use genetic hacking techniques to produce food crops that grow for just a few generations before the diseases adapt and wipe them out, and they use their food as leverage over everyone. Willing to do just about anything to obtain new seed stock to give them an advantage these companies have private armies and almost unlimited funding. Thailand has done its best to stay autonomous from such companies, but Bangkok is a drowning city where tensions between government factions are rising. AgriGen sees this as an opportunity to acquire access to Thailand's coveted seed vault and a simple windup girl finds herself at the center of this coming storm.
Gene hacking has made Cheshire cats a mischievous reality and also genetically modified elephants into megadonts to provide efficient power. Of course such science was applied to human DNA as well, and that is how the new people were created. Emiko is such a new person, also known as a windup girl, because of the manner in which her DNA coding makes her limbs move in a stuttering fashion. New people are treated as property, and Emiko has become a mere sexual novelty in a seedy club after she was left behind by her former Japanese owner. Her life is miserable and as she yearns for more she becomes the spark that ignites the powder keg of Bangkok.
This is the second dark future tale that I have read from Paolo Bacigalupi and in both he does a great job of of creating unique environments for his stories to take place in. I do feel like The Water Knife is the better book of the two, but if you are looking for something more unique then The WIndup Girl is the clear choice, although know going in that it does get rather raunchy at times. Jonathan Davis narrates the audiobook version and does an excellent job of it.