Multiple award-winning SF novel, creative and challenging.
In a dystopian future, global warming has raised the ocean levels and flooded many countries and cities. Artificial viruses, fungi, and genetic experiments of many kinds have run amok in the world, destroying basic food crops and killing a significant percentage of the world’s population. One of the few successful countries left is Thailand, which was able to build dikes to prevent flooding and had scientists able to develop food that would resist the genetic diseases. Even in Thailand survival is a matter of politics, money, and who you know -- although that can get you killed just as easily.
The characters are a mixture of entrepreneurs, soldiers, refugees, politicians, and criminals, each of which have hidden motives. The Windup Girl of the title is a genetically enhanced pleasure girl, illegally imported into Thailand, and constantly in danger of execution if she is found by the Environmental police. She has hidden abilities she doesn’t know about.
At any point in the novel, you can never be sure whether a particular character is a good guy, a bad guy, on whose side they are. In fact, like in many spy and political thrillers, “good” and “bad” have lost their meanings. Even “success” may not have any meaning deeper than simple “survival.” It's not a comfortable read but it sure is impressive.