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Zoo City Paperback – 2 Sep 2010

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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: 13.4 x 3.1 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,668 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The Lightning Tree on 2 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback
(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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Format: Kindle Edition
A bit hard to review this. The basic idea is really very novel and could have been played up much more and that, in itself, made this worth reading. But IMO not enough was made of this, to the detriment of the novel as a whole. The writing itself is a bit odd; the first half of the novel is sooo slow that I almost gave up, but then the pace suddenly increases to a breakneck speed that keeps going for the rest of the story and almost makes up for the first half ... almost.

The story is like a different take on x-men - people get different powers (not as OTT as those in X-men), are persecuted by the rest of society, and face impending doom due to their condition and thats really all you need to know. The story is basically a detective, murder/mystery type saga where our heroine, Zinzi, spends a long time investigating the disappearance of an up-coming pop-star who was mentored by an elderly Simon Cowell like producer. There is a lot about Zinzi's background and lifestyle which is what makes the first half so slow. The ending is not really that surprising but is well written at least.

SUMMARY: A good book that could have been so much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on 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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