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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Zoo City (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Lauren Beukes

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,1998610,258 (3.74)3 / 249
Title:Zoo City
Authors:Lauren Beukes
Info:Angry Robot (2010), Edition: Original, Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:South Africa, mystery, fantasy

Work details

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (2010)

  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 (82)  German (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
I didn't think I would enjoy reading urban fantasy about people with magical animal companions, but I actually liked this book a lot! I haven't read many books set in South Africa, so that was interesting, and the action-y detective-style plot was very engaging. I particularly liked the reports, transcripts and film summaries scattered throughout the book to give a bit more background information and world-building - it reminded me a bit of World War Z in that respect, sometimes, as well as giving the author the opportunity to say "don't worry, I have heard of Philip Pullman". ( )
  tronella | Jun 22, 2019 |
Loved everything about this creative and original book. It felt a little rushed toward the end for me, but still that didn't take away any reading pleasure. I haven't ready that many ebooks yet, but this is the first one I've come across that had some sloppy scanning problems. Broken lines of text, and no page numbers. This book deserves better than that! ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
I enjoyed it, dragged a bit in the middle, but that's life. Was looking at my cat sideways for a bit after I finished it :-) ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
I have to admit that I struggled with this one, despite the fact that it's not long at all. This is a shame, since both the setting of the story and the main fantasy twist are actually refreshingly different.

The setting is the South African city of Johannesburg, a welcome relief from more common venues such as London or New York, though in the end the African flavor doesn't seem to come through enough to matter much, unfortunately. More specifically, the setting is a Jo'burg ghetto called Zoo City, where the so called animalled people live.

Which brings us to the main fantasy twist - in the early 21st century something causes people who have committed serious transgressions (that is, killed anyone) to obtain an animal companion. Not an ordinary animal, but one that they're intrinsically bound with, like it's a part of their mind and one they're able to communicate with. Each one has a special ability of some sort, like our protagonist Zinzi December, a strong young woman, whose sloth gives her the magical power of finding lost things.

Or lost persons, which is actually the plot of the novel. You see, a teenage afropop sensation goes missing and Zinzi is sort of hired by her shady producer to find her. Unfortunately, this plot is also the undoing of Zoo City. I found it confusing sometimes, but mostly just plain boring. It's neither a thriller, nor a whodunit, it's just a story about a girl who needs to find a kid and is doing so in the most glaringly obvious and boring way that anyone could use. This in spite of the fact that she has a perfectly suited magical ability at her disposal, which for some reason she doesn't use all that much.

A rather gruesome ending doesn't alleviate the sheer dullness of this work for me, despite some bright spots that I mention above and which include articles and studies into the nature and origin of the animalled people. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
There's some interest to the world, but I wasn't really taken with how the book was written. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 82 (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.

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

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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857662163, Paperback)


Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty online 419 scam habit – and a talent for finding lost things. But when her latest client, a little old lady, turns up dead and the cops confiscate her lastpaycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job: missing persons

An astonishing second novel from the author of the highly-acclaimed Moxyland.

FILE UNDER: Modern Fantasy [Black Magic Noir / Pale Crocodile / Spirit Guardians / Lost Stars]

From the Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:59 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Average: (3.74)
0.5 1
1 1
2 26
2.5 4
3 73
3.5 52
4 146
4.5 22
5 53

Angry Robot

3 editions of this book were published by Angry Robot.

Editions: 0857660551, 0857660543, 085766056X

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