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O-Zone [Paperback]

Paul Theroux
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Sep 1987
It is New Year in paranoid, computer-rich New Tork, and a group of Owners has jet-rotored out to party in O-Zone. In this novel New York is a sealed city and visits to the eerie, radioactive wasteland of O-Zone are now rarer than moon landings.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (24 Sep 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140099891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140099898
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O-zone Paul Theroux 30 Oct 2009
By Joe
I read this book years ago and remembered it as a good read. On re-reading I find it is as good as I originally thought. It perfectly describes the deterioration of contemporary society whilst having a very imaginatively written human story running through it. The quality of the writing is excellent. I thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing !! 23 May 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading 'Mosquitoe Coast' which I liked very much,I wanted to try another novel and I chose 'O-Zone'. Although the basic idea is good, I am really disappointed with the story as a whole. Paul Theroux could have done a lot better. It feels like the author was motivated by his own story at the beginning and then ran out of real ideas. The book is far too long, divided into chapters where nothing really happens He keeps jumping from one or more characters to the other(s). There is no real flowing in the story and I enjoyed only one bit of it: when Fizzy gets kidnapped by 'aliens'(good chapter!). I don't know if I am going to finish up to the end as I have started a new boring chapter, a cliché love story between Hooper and Bligh. My goodness, this book is really hard going!!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 4 Mar 2013
I love Theroux's travel books and picked this up as a result. The concept is strong - a radioactive part of the USA is inhabited by "illegals". Plot is ok (won't give anything away). However the story plods along, and worst of all, the characters are very two dimensional. I just didn't care what happened to any of them. Shame.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and disturbing view of the future 2 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book several years ago and lost my copy, so I'm buying another one. When I read it, it seemed very far-fetched, about a youth who had no social skills and related better to his computer than to people. Now, it all seems frighteningly accurate. Can't wait to re-read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great SF from a 'serious' writer 4 Jan 2000
By Doug Vaughn - Published on
Another surprise from a writer who keeps reinventing his art, O-Zone is a book about the future we fear, but filled with characters we know and can relate to. Theroux's greatest talent, it seems to me, is the authority with which he creates the various worlds he presents in his novels. From the jungles of the Amazon, to big city melodrama, to the fantasy tale of Millroy the Magian or the harsh reality of The Family Arsenal, he presents characters and situations that seem too real to be mere inventions. In O-Zone he tackles the SF genre and does it in style. An almost picaresque tale of a journey into a forbidden desolate 'outback', by charaters unfitted by wealth and easy living to deal with what they find, Theroux's story deals with a range of social and human issues with both excitement and humor.
This book, like so much of Theroux, can be read strictly for fun or delved into for deeper meaning. All in all, another very satisfying fiction from one of our best contemporary writers.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent drama against a sci-fi backdrop 15 Dec 2003
By Michael J. Edelman - Published on
O-Zone is a rather unusual book for Paul Theroux, a drama in a futuristic setting rather than the contemporary setting of his other novels. Reading O-Zone brings to mind Huxley's Brave New World, both for the portrayal of the world in which it is set, and for the inevitible comparison with another noted novelist who wrote a single book set in a futuristic world.
I've noticed that Sci-Fi fans as a group don't much care for O-Zone, as it violates a lot of the accepted rules of the genre- as does Brave New World, for that matter, and Huxley has never been that popular with hard core SciFi readers either. Both books use the future world as a setting to explore relationships between people, and to make certain plot developments possible, but neither gets into much detail regarding the technology.
Like Brave New World, O-Zone explores the alienation of modern man in this world of the future, and the consequant attraction to the primative and atavistic world that is found on the reservation (Huxley) or in the contaminated lands of the O-Zone. And in both books, some of the protagonists go in search of amusement and entertainment from the primatives, but find something disturbingly similar to themselves.
Despite the strong parallels, O-Zone owes nothing in the way of plot of development to Brave New World. The story is as original as anything Theroux's written, the characters are fully developed and well motivated, and the story compelling.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force 20 Dec 2002
By Avid Reader - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It is hard to say why this novel so affected me. True, it is sci-fi and it has a tremendous plot that winds back on itself, the characters are some of the quirkiest and most interesting in literature...maybe it is a combination of all these elements.
One pet peeve I have with futurists is their depiction of the Earth as an environmental disaster as hordes of free-roaming sub-humans terrify the countryside. YET, scientific progress seems to continue unabated. That aside, this tale is a gem!! From the genius teenager to the searching mom to the innocent gal - from locale to locale - Theroux has assembled a cast and story that resonates long after one finished the last words.
Innocence in all its many forms is an underlying theme with almost every major character - from the mom to the son to the roamers to the gal and even to the long lost (?) male donor - involved in some type of sudden awarenenss that the world is not as benign as they once thought. The coming of age of the young teenager is perfect in its perplexity and complexity.
Get this book and lock the door!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potential Vision of The Future 16 Aug 2012
By Carioca56 - Published on
I found this book in the drawer of a bedside table in a room on some tropical paradise island in the South China Sea years ago and I quickly devoured it. Why did I like it? Because it was a tragic tale about (potentially) real people. It was also extremely well written, as all Theroux books are, although it wasn't perhaps as compelling as Mosquito Coast.

It is a book about the dystopian future, a time of the haves and the have nots, in this case the "owners" and the "savages," the latter content (content?) to run around the fenced perimeter, hence the name O-Zone, which means Outside Zone. The characters, well, we can relate to them all, from the rich naked women shopping in masks or having sex with men wearing masks at the local sperm bank, to our young protagonist who manages to escape the confines of his climate controlled high rise apartment for a day of walking (alone!) around the city, to the xenophobic redneck of tomorrow who spends his entire consciousness plotting how to maim or kill the people living in the O-Zone, to those very "savages," people living hardscrabble lives on the fringes of society, forever on the lookout for helicopter gunships that will slaughter them like the Europeans and their descendents slaughtered the buffalo (shades of drone technology soon to come) hundreds of years before.

I can't remember how the O-Zone got that way, but my foggy memory tells me that there was some sort of nuclear holocaust, the "owners" took the prime real estate, and every else got what was left. In the O-Zone, there isn't much, but there are people there roaming around in loose tribes, and their faculties are pretty much fully developed, but somehow they ended up on the outside, which in not fully explained. The "owners" refuse, or are simply unwilling, to acknowledge this reality, that being that these people are thinking, rational, human beings. Kind of like many people today are unwilling to acknowledge that people of other faiths or ethnic groups are worth valuing as much as are the people of their own clan.

Naked people wearing masks, helicopter gunships, powerful halogen search lights, police patrols, vigilante "justice" ("I burned them down,") giant video screens, closed circuit cameras galore, people living their entire lives in totally antispeptic existences in apartments stuck on top of high rise buildings, a future that only the most vivid nightmare could possibly conjure.

For the time being, a great escape from reality. But, the irony is, this is what the world could someday be like.

Five stars. Rick says check it out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theroux shows real future 4 Feb 2010
By J. Luis Madrid - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is good. It made me think better of Theroux whose train travel books I have read.

This book took a lot of creative talent and intelligence. The 15 year old nerd Fizzy is particularly well done. He is a character you will never forget.

The science fiction part was quite well done. The cynical humor of the whole thing is unsurpassed. This deserves 5 stars.
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