In the future, long after the primary sources of energy, oil and gas, have been mostly depleted, the world's governments collapse unto themselves. Energy now comes from natural resources and human energy, stored in bio-engineered 'kink springs' and measured in calories. Bioengineering companies have become as powerful as governments, and a combination of corporate warfare and environmental irresponsibility has resulted in most of the worlds natural foodstocks dying off or becoming biologically contaminated through hybridization. The world relies on bio engineering companies to create disease resistant, high calorie foods to feed humanity. And that's just the background setting!
This was really hard to put down. Bacigalupi has become my favorite 'dystopic' future writer. The stories seem outlandish when being described, but the world he lays out seems very realistic and possible once you get into the story. The writing reminds me of the British science fiction show 'Black Mirror', in that it shows the subtle horrors that the near future could hold. A terrifying future created by technology and industry rather than war. Once I read this, I had to read 'The Water Knife' from the same author, which also takes place in a 'soft dystopian' future. It wasn't until I started reading his short story anthology 'Pump Six' that I realized that each of these stories might take place in the same world, only at different points in the future and on different continents. Great stuff!