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Zoo City [Paperback]

Lauren Beukes
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

2 Sep 2010
Zinzi December finds people. Even if they don t want to be found like missing pop starlet Songweza. Trouble is, when you go turning over stones and digging up secrets it isn t long before the real truth comes to light. A truth the local crime lord, dark magician and beast master, will kill to keep hidden. In Lauren Beukes shattered city, magic is horribly real and the criminal classes sport symbiotically linked animals. A stunningly original urban fantasy.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857660543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857660541
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lauren Beukes is a novelist, TV scriptwriter, documentary maker, comics
writer and occasional journalist.

She won the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award for her novel Zoo City, set in a
fantastical Johannesburg where guilt manifests as spirit animal familiars. Her
previous works include Moxyland, a dystopian cyberpunk thriller set in Cape
Town under corporate apartheid.

She helped create South Africa's first half-hour animated TV show, URBO: The
Adventures of Pax Afrika, and has written kids animated shows for Disney
UK and Millimages in France.

Follow her on Twitter: @laurenbeukes

Photo © Casey Crafford

Product Description


Lauren Beukes is Raymond Chandler crossed with Jeff Noon. I loved it, it's going to be huge. --Paul Cornell

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improved Second Novel 29 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is Lauren Beukes' second cyberpunk novel. As with her first novel, Moxyland, 'Zoo City' is set in an alternate-world South Africa. 'Moxyland', though intriguing, failed to sustain my interest all the way through. It flitted repeatedly from character to character, all of whom I struggled to empathise with. 'Zoo City' is an altogether more satisfying read.

This time, consistency is brought to the novel by use of single voice. Zinzi is a trying-to-reform addict, who once upon a time, had a bright future ahead of her. All that remains now is a dark and troubled past. The novel's central premise is interesting; those who have sinned are given an animal familiar, which they must succour and sustain. This obvious sign of guilt (in some cases, literally a monkey on the back), makes these 'animalled' sinners social pariahs. They are corralled in a decrepit ghetto known as 'Zoo City'. Alongside these animal familiars comes a supernatural ability. Something minor, and often both a blessing and a curse. Zinzi can find people's lost things.

'Zoo City' is essentially a cyberpunk detective novel. Zinzi is hired to find a missing girl, an assignment that pays well and seems straightforward enough. Of course, things are not what they seem.

Initially, I found the novel a little bewildering. Scene changes happened quickly, sometimes abruptly. A host of characters are introduced, as is a lot of information about Buekes alternate reality. It is refreshing to read a sci-fi novel set away from the Northern/Western hemisphere, but when reading from middle England, downtown Jo'burg can seem like another world, even without adding in 'Mashavi, 'aposymbiots' and 'Muti' mysticism.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic in more ways than one 2 Oct 2012
(Review cross-posted from my blog, The Lightning Tree:[...]

Lauren Beukes's second novel, Zoo City, won the Arthur C. Clarke award last year - and in this humble blogger's opinion, the accolade is definitely deserved. A more gripping, imaginative, and smart read you would be hard-pressed to find. Zoo City has the works: witty, well-honed prose, a tough, wily protagonist, an exciting thriller-style plot, and a central concept that is fantastic in more ways than one. But this novel is also far from formulaic. Plunging us into the perilous, grimy warren of the Zoo City ghetto - an alternate version of the Hillbrow district of Johannesburg - Beukes conjures a twisting tale that, whilst flavoured as a noir thriller, is made unique and multi-faceted by its interweaving with the novel's magical concept. For Zoo City is populated by the `animalled', also known as `zoos' or, if you wants to get technical about it, `aposymbiotes': people who have, by dint of a former crime, come into possession of a shavi - a magical animal that accompanies them everywhere, and with it a magical talent (also called a shavi). These animals are at once companions and brands of criminality, and the aposymbiotes of Beukes's alternate world find themselves the victims of personal and institutional prejudice. The onset of this phenomenon, during the 1980s, marks the divergence of the world of Zoo City with our own.

The protagonist, Zinzi December (great name, no?) is `animalled', going about her various (and often questionable) business with a large sloth draped across her back or stuffed into her bag. His name is... Sloth. And Sloth, incidentally, is a wonderful character in his own right - endearing and timid, he is often disapproving or frightened by his mistress's actions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Zoo City. 10 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The subject material is interesting and the relationship between animals and humans is cleverly depicted, but it can be a little convoluted at times in terms of the plot. I don't know if Beuke's did this intentionally but I am a little ambivalent when it comes to cognitive dissonance: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. While no reader likes everything to be spelt out for them, I think a little more brevity would have done this novel a service. In spite of these criticisms I found it to be an interesting read; it was at least thought provoking if nothing else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Discovery 9 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lauren Beukes is a brilliant find. I absolutely loved Zoo City - the writing is careful and delicious, the story draws you in effortlessly and unfolds in an intelligent, inspiring way. You won't be able to put it down. Read this book, you won't regret it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best thing for ages and ages 31 Mar 2013
I stumbled on this while wiling away time at St Pancras, waiting for a train. The review quote from William Gibson caught my eye. I will leave the plot to other reviews. This book is stunning. It's got everything: brilliant writing that flows so well and has such vivid detail that the world it describes is effortlessly real; beautiful imaginative word play, a wonderful, nuanced main character; interesting ideas; and an exciting plot. It's 'urban fantasy' but it crosses genre in many ways. It's the sort of book you'd be sorry not to have read because you'd be missing out on something original and fantastic. You can probably tell that it blew me away!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 9 Mar 2013
By DW23
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
From the perspective of a South African thats been out the country many years, it has brought back so many references. A brilliantly original book, that makes me feel the way I felt reading early Tom Robbins, but with a frame of reference to home! Totally recommend, kept me excited to read more; but slang may be foreign to anyone with no SA connection.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars just like The Shining Girls also by Lauren
Different, just like The Shining Girls also by Lauren, you will love them and I assure you will read them again.
Published 9 days ago by ice man
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Quick delivery and was what I expected
Published 12 days ago by TONY rOYCE
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Not amazing, but interesting concept and some really great moments..
Published 17 days ago by Mr. James Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Still lingering in my mind
Great story with good characters that I often think back to. Not your typical stuff, nice ideas and flows well.
Published 3 months ago by Dave
4.0 out of 5 stars original
Interesting and original, I liked the gritty detail, the plot and central character had me gripped throughout. Will look for more of her work on the strength of this.
Published 3 months ago by behindthesofa
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as The Shining Girls
I read this after enjoying The Shining Girls so much, but in comparison this was disappointing. It was reasonably easy to read and quite a good story with the kind of quirks I go... Read more
Published 9 months ago by JonBoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Zoo City
nice mix of magic realism and cutting edge politics - very well written - also check out the Shining Girls by same author
Published 13 months ago by Gerard Blair
3.0 out of 5 stars A taste of Dark Materials in South Africa
Cracking read. Though with Over 10% of the book still to read the story's finished..! WARNING. Longest acknowledgement section ever, which left a disappointed taste in the back of... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Pete r breakwell
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cyberpunk world but weak plot
There were some really great parts to this book that I loved, but the whole thing didn't really come together. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sara Price
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