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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Zoo City

by Lauren Beukes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,3049410,000 (3.73)3 / 254
Zinzi has a talent for finding lost things. Being hired by famously reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum of the criminal underclass. Set in a wildly re-imagined Johannesburg, it mixes refugees, crime, the music industry, African magic and the nature of sin.… (more)
Recently added byrena40, bradleyhorner, private library, Jayeless, Serrana, avonar, Conor.Murphy
  1. 60
    The City & The City by China Miéville (Jannes)
    Jannes: Two noir-ish thrillers with (vaguely) supernatural themes. Centered around sort-of-contemporary, yet fantastical urban landscapes. Both are very unique, and feels alike even if there's not many superficial similarities. More to the point, they're both damn good reading.… (more)

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English (90)  German (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (94)
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
This is a particularly smooth genre-meshing urban fantasy noir SF horror, and if you don't like my description, then go read it and figure out your best fit. :) If you do, however, find that perfect descriptor, be sure to add all the little animas, the familiars that bad people get after murdering someone, and if you let your anima die, you get dragged to hell. Or is the novel firmly set in modern day Johannesburg filled with scams, missing persons, and mystery? Oh, wait, how about all the mutilations and the sense of upwelling horror? No? Then why the hell do I get this sense that things have just gone near-future high-tech?

Well that's because the book refuses to sit still and be neatly defined. Isn't that wonderful?

Our main character is a real spitfire, that's for certain, and I love reading about good scams as much as anyone, but that's just her favorite hobby and way to make money. For everything else and when times get rough, she falls back on a bit of the missing persons racket, and she really knows how to talk a good game. She's an excellent social hacker.

As for the Urban Fantasy angle, I'll tell you this: it's interesting and odd and magical and it works perhaps a bit too strangely for me. I like a bit of well-defined rules, if only to see those rules get broken or find a way to slip the leash of hell, you know? But, alas, it isn't that kind of story.

It is, fundamentally, full of elemental horror, which is great because I love horror and I think Ms. Beukes does it extremely well. This is the third novel that I've read of hers and all of them are quite a bit different in style, subjects, characters, and plots, save for the interesting parallels of con-games and horror. But rest assured, all the horror sequences are very, very different from one another, so you will all have a nice treat in store for you for each novel. :)

I'm very impressed, in general, but I have to admit that I like this one the least between it and Broken Monsters or Moxyland. Suffice to say, I've grown to be a very steadfast fanboy of the author and I'm going to be snatching up each of her novels as I can find them, with much pleasure.

Thanks goes to Netgalley and the publisher! ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I really, really liked the South African style and the matter of fact way that things were said. But less than half way through, I just found myself bored. There was no real hook that caught my attention and I decided my time would be better spent elsewhere. ( )
  avonar | May 27, 2020 |
Zoo City - this is the place where the animalled live - these are people who have been linked to an animal of some sort because of a crime committed in the past.

Zinzi December is linked to a sloth. She has a knack for finding lost objects and is currently running an spam email service in a vain attempt to clear her debts. She normally avoids looking for people as it is too much hassle, but when offered the chance to look for one half of a pop duo she accepts.

As she closes in on her quarry, she unwittingly uncovers a series of murders, and has closer brushes with the law and the criminal underworld.

Wasn't sure about this first, the animal links are weird to say the least, but Beukes has created a unique urban fantasy novel, with this new Johannesburg as an edgy, wired place. The plot twists and picks up the pace nicely and the last part of the book zips by. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Procedural set in Johannesburg with a Pullman twist.

I still can't decide if I like procedurals. For the first 80% I race through them, enjoying the pulpiness and trying to second guess the plot. They genuinely quicken the pulse and delay bed time. But as denouement approaches I get turned off and start to rationalise away my enjoyment. Probably just being a snob again
1 vote thenumeraltwo | Feb 10, 2020 |
Zoo City is a solid fantasy-noir novel. It's a lot of fun, with great voice and an interesting premise and main character, and while it definitely isn't perfect, it was well worth the time I spent reading it.

Zoo City is the first book I've read from the Humble Indie eBook Bundle, and I'm already glad I picked it up. Its Johannesburg setting is no Generic East Coast City, and protagonist Zinzi December is no Snow White Strong-Willed Female Lead who wanders around wearing a black leather trenchcoat fighting vampires and denizens of the supernatural underworld. She's a rehabbed junkie haunted by her mistakes and by the substantial drug debt she racked up before her stay in prison. She wears vintage dresses and jeans with her flip-flops, and shock of all shocks, she isn't white.

Making deliberate reference to The Golden Compass, certain people have become Animalled: some guilt they carry has been transformed into an animal familiar, in Zinzi's case a sloth. Smarter and presumably longer lived than the mundane version, the animals come with mashavi, some kind of power. Zinzi can see all the lost items trailing like sunstreaks from their owners, and she tracks them down for income to pay off her debts. This is the conceit Beukes uses to get her involved in some shady noir dealings, and it's quite effective.

I really liked this. It's got a good balance between plot and characterization: Zinzi has a great voice, and Beukes does a good job with all of her secondary characters... with the exception of the bad guys. The ultimate Big Bad felt more like the Oogie Boogie man, and his setup as a bad guy seems a little weak in retrospect. Her relationship with her boyfriend Benoit is refreshingly fraught and, I hate to say it, dysfunctional without being Lifetime movie material. Beukes keeps things moving, and I always felt that tug to turn the page, turn the page, turn the page. Except, weirdly, during the climax. For all the heavy, terrible things happening, it just felt... bleached out. I think that had a lot to do with the big reveal of the villain's motivation, a scene which is a cliche in and of itself which was further weakened by the villain's flatness.

I do wish there'd been a bit more background on the magic system. Mashavi is the sole domain of the Animalled, but magic is available to others via traditional African medicine. Beukes uses this as a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card to advance the plot and scatter clues. It wasn't enough to pull me entirely out of the narrative, but I definitely noticed.

I'm also disappointed in Angry Robot, the U.S. publisher, for their terrible job in proofreading. There are missing spaces and hyphens everywhere; it felt like someone did a straight text-extract of a pdf, converted it to .mobi, and then jettisoned it out into the world. I feel like I somehow got a pirated version.

I do have a paperback copy of The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby, which was published in 2012 by Angry Robot, and I haven't spotted any similar issues... but I don't know if I'd risk buying the kindle version. (Though for Battersby's novel, is slightly cheaper, listing at $6.99 vs. $7.99, and going for $4.89 for the Kindle and $6.01 for the Nook. Oh, ye olden days when ebooks were reliably cheaper than paperbacks...)

If you like urban fantasy, like the Dresden novels, enjoy mysteries but want to branch out, or have an interest in authors like Jonathan Lethem and Jonathan Carroll, definitely pick this one up. Just make sure it's the paperback. ( )
  prufrockcoat | Dec 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
It's a style that can be challenging, and the thriller plot – involving a reclusive, ghastly music producer (like a dreadfully gone-to-seed South African Simon Cowell) and an unfortunate pair of X-Factor-ish teen-pop twins – isn't much help. In the proud tradition of Chandler and Hammett, possibly Beukes herself isn't sure who did what to whom, in what order and why, on the way to a supremely messy and disgusting climax. But like Gibson, she brings a secret tenderness and humanity to her off-kilter portrait of the here and now. What her many fans will remember, and value, is deadbeat Zinzi's personal journey, towards a frail but determined integrity.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lauren Beukesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Picacio, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Average: (3.73)
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2 27
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3 78
3.5 53
4 158
4.5 22
5 54

Angry Robot

3 editions of this book were published by Angry Robot.

Editions: 0857660551, 0857660543, 085766056X

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