The story is set in Bangkok, in the near future, when the Earth is ravaged by man-made viruses, and companies profit from producing "safe" seeds and foodstuffs. Reading the descriptions adn the main story from the internet one may think that this is a book about economics and big corporations. While this is the setting, the book is about much more than this; the book is about human nature, about survival, about humanity in general.
The book is told from the viewpoint of 5 different characters. Each chapter a different character, and each character with their own motivations, their own background, their own hopes and desires. Initially, you think that there is no connection between some of the characters, but, as the story unfolds, the connections start to emerge. And in the midst of all this, a genetically engineered girl, the Windup Girl, connects the dots.
Some people have objected to the fact that the book "forgets" about some scientific concepts, and that it could be more scientifically accurate. My answer to this is that this is a science fiction book. Yes, it may have junk science, or whatever in it; the science is not the important point in this. This is not a scientific book; this is not a science textbook; this is fiction. Was Van Vogt scientifically accurate; were any others of the pioneers of science fiction or other writers? To me it does not matter, because this is fiction.
Some people may think that the changing perspective may tire the reader; but Bacigalupi knows full well how to avoid this, and each character brings something new in the story, his own unique perspective. At no point does this become tiresome, or boring. On the contrary, it keeps the reader interested, and you want to read just a page or a chapter more, until you finish it.
And the ending is not the "live happily ever after" ending. If you want that kind of ending, then this is not the book for you. This is the book where actions have consequences, and sometimes they have dire consequences. The ending left me with a bitterness, and sorrow. One that I still feel every time I think about the book.