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.