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Zoo [Paperback]

Otsuichi
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

21 Sep 2009
Ten stories of horror and science fiction from Japan's hottest young author. In one story, the last man on Earth turns out to be a robot. In another story, a man builds a house from the bodies of his murder victims. And in the book's eponymous story, a man sees his girlfriend's corpse decompose...one Polaroid snapshot at a time!

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Zoo + Summer, Fireworks & My Corpse
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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Viz Media, Subs. of Shogakukan Inc (21 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421525879
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421525877
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 13.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Born 1978 in Fukuoka, Otsuichi won the Sixth Jump Short Fiction/Nonfiction Prize when he was seventeen with his debut story Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse. Now recognized as one of the most talented young fantasy/horror writers in Japan, his other English-language works include the short story collection Calling You, the Honkaku Mystery Prize-winning novel Goth, and the collection ZOO (Haikasoru 2009).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 7 Oct 2011
By Elaine
Format:Paperback
Short and sweet review, just to say I'd recommend this to fans of horror short stories. This is an excellent collection of short stories - well written, with a bit of chilling, a bit of horror, well-written and gives food for thought.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read to the end--it's worth it!! 7 Dec 2009
By Erika (Jawas Read, Too) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
ZOO is a collection of short stories by acclaimed Japanese horror author, Otsuichi. It's translated, which always begs for an original reading to see what, if anything, has been lost or gained in the switch to another language. The writing isn't too descriptive. It borders on the extremely bare-bones, minimalism to the point where I began to imagine the narrative in comic book form with illustrations to fill in the emotion I felt was missing from the text (my rating reflects this--it would be a 4 star otherwise). To be fair, my only other experience with Japanese horror was The Ring and that as manga. I can never bring myself to watch the film (or any Japanese horror film), but I was so scared by the end of reading the comic I gave it away when I was finished. That being said, I steeled myself for jumping into ZOO. With time and distance, I was sure I'd appreciate the tingly terror Otsuishi's writing would elicit.

While some of the stories read quickly, there's always some lingering emotion left over that makes you want to stop and think about what was just read. Because this is an ARC, I won't quote the book, but I desperately want to. There are some gruesome scenes that, when combined with some of the more incredulous and ridiculous dialogue and behavior clash against my sensibilities of propriety. I think there's a certain appreciation that comes with Japanese horror that has to be taken into consideration before anyone attempts to read something like ZOO. It's not Stephen King by any stretch of the imagination. There's always something a little ridiculous and weird in the premise of a Japanese horror story--something that require a strong suspense of belief in what you'd expect to happen or what's accepted behavior, or turn of events. There's a lot of fantasy that has to be believed in order to appreciate the fiction created. Also, there's a lot of corny dialogue that begs for re-writes, but don't be put off. A lot of the stories have an underlying creepiness about them that stay with you long after the story's been put to rest. And that, I think, is the benefit of reading Japanese horror.

The title story, "Zoo," is about a man who receives a photo every day of his decomposing ex-girlfriend. It's also the name of a movie they saw when she was alive about the process of decay--which, as it turns out, is both metaphorical for the photographs and the protagonist's life. "Zoo" is a shocking, troubling story about a man desperate for recognition, and the horrific actions he takes to ease his conscience. His narration style he adopts can get irritating, especially as the story progresses; his speech and actions become more and more ridiculous, but it remains a haunting piece.

The stories that follow trace a pathway from the awesomely gruesome to the relief of freedom and avoidance of death. All of these stories (not a single exception) deal with death in some way--death by way of murder. After a few stories, I began to get tired of this premise. The surprise was ruined if someone was always going to die; I could expect some awful, terrible death at the end, at the beginning, somewhere in the middle of each story. The suspense wasn't there. But on second thought, perhaps it wasn't death for the sake of death that I was supposed to focus on. Perhaps it was a collection built upon that title story, with death as decay: a thing to be studied over time as it faded away into something almost unrecognizable from that first unexpected glimpse. Or, perhaps, something to be watched through the metaphorical bars of language, enclosed in the cage of Otsuichi's narrative. The impact of being inundated with so much loss, so much careless and senseless death isn't fully understood until the last story, "Seven Rooms." When a brother and sister discover they only have six days to live, it begs the question: is it better going to your death knowing that it's coming or living without that anxiety, despite dying in the end anyway?

As I reflect back on the collection as a whole, I felt this message really spoke of the stories as one entity. The journey from the first to the last is an experience in preparation for the final, and what I felt to be, the best of the bunch. The impact the final story makes as I close the book, is even more appreciable in light of everything we've come to expect by that point in the collection. The relief is larger, the freedom sweeter, and hope lingers in the air like sunlight.

If you decide to pick up ZOO (I recommend this to horror fans in general, if anything, to experience another avenue of the genre), keep in mind this: there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you finish, I think you'll know what I mean. Many thanks to Simon & Schuster UK and Ally, in particular, for always being so awesome and generously providing me with this review copy!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique read 26 Feb 2010
By JM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed most of the short stories in this book and I'm really glad that I found it! The stories are all truly unique and makes the reader reflect on what they just read. Unlike some short stories, I actually like the twists at the end of a few. Some of the stories can be kind of gory with disturbing murders. It's a great mix of both horror, fantasy, sci fi.
Here are the short stories. My top favorites: In a Falling Airplane, Find the Blood!, So-Far, Seven Rooms.
Warning, there may be spoilers:

Zoo- A man finds a picture of his decomposing girlfriend everyday in the mailbox that he can piece together to make one of those decaying movies. An interesting twist, not bad.

In a Falling Airplane- A terrorist hijacks an airplane with two passengers who are busy trying to make a business deal. I really liked this one. I was surprised at the humor and voice that this piece had despite it being translated from a different language. I was interested in the characters and what would happen next- it even made me burst out laughing at times.

The White House in the Cold Forest- A man builds a house out of dead people. I like this one the least, but it's tragic in an ironic way.

Find the Blood!- A man and his family are in a "desperate" attempt to find a bag of blood for him after he got stabbed. This one was great and again, really funny. Normally, the story wouldn't have been too interesting, but the writing style and humor makes it a fun read.

In a Park at Twlilight, a Long Time Ago- Someone finds something in a sandbox. It was really short and I forgot what it was about.
Wardrobe- There is a murder, and a wardrobe that can fit a person...This one kind of plays out like a whodunit mystery. It was alright.
Song of the Sunny Spot- This book reminds me of some robotics novels, but I still thought it was a sad, but wonderful read. A robot was built for the purpose of burying their creator and in the process, learns what it is to be human and the meaning of death.

Kazari and Yoko - Two twin sisters, one perfect, the other no one likes. I think I've seen this somewhere...alright.

SO-Far- A boy is trapped in a world where his mother thinks his father is dead and lives on, and a world where his father thinks that his mother is dead. I love the twists and idea of it!

Words of God- This boy can command anyone to do what he wants. The idea isn't too original, but the final outcome is. I like the ending, except it kind of feels like Zoo.

Seven Rooms- There are seven rooms, one each with a prisoner. There is a mote/stream thing flowing through each of the rooms. One character is small enough to fit through, and so he visits each of the rooms and finds out why they are all there. This would be perfect for a horror movie...it's gory. I have been looking for something like this in book form, so I'm happy I read it!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Zoo 30 Jan 2011
By The Figment Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There is always a long list of reasons as to why we as readers choose to buy a particular book. Sometimes it's because of the cover, its shiny gloss finish or evocative illustration enticing us. Sometimes it's because of the title; at other times it can be because of the premise of the story. Most of the time though, it's a combination of these reasons, and more, that culminate in our decision.

So then, naturally, the question that I suppose comes to mind is what inspired me to buy a collection of horror stories? This is a especially potent question when one understands that I typically avoid this genre of fiction like the plague.

In this particular case, there was truly only one deciding factor. The author.

ZOO is a collection of short stories that crisscross between horror and science fiction. Following the lives of a group of ordinary and far-from-ordinary individuals, the book challenges us through eleven unrelated tales to question our own personal morality and mental prowess as we are pit against ourselves and the author in a search for the truth.

After having read Otsuichi's first English released novel, the phenomenal Calling You, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would be back to buy his next released work. But what I never suspected from the same man that wrote a masterpiece of inspirational fiction was that he was actually famous for an entirely opposite reason.

To start, Otsuichi's incredible skill with prose returns in full force as he weaves his tales effortlessly from one to another. A lack of writing talent is most certainly not to be found in the majority of this book. Along with the pitch-perfect pacing and word choice comes the author's most noticeable trademark: his surprising twists at the end. Just like in his previous work, if not slightly more so in some cases, Otsuichi manages to throw a curve ball into a story that turns it completely upside down along with the reader. There are several stories inparticular that deserve praise for the sheer fact that they are truly genius. Readers hoping to be surprised will find more than they ever hoped.

However, no sooner can I begin to praise him than I must do the unthinkable and let loose my criticisms. While nearly every story in this book is written on par with the excellent quality expected from an author like Otsuichi, the twists that follow at the end of the horror stories are not. I hated the fact that the horror stories routinely suffered from lackluster endings that left me desiring much, much more. In fact, to be quite honest, those stories felt for the most part as if they were dead weight to the rest of the novel, with the exception of the finale.

On the other hand, the science fiction, dark humor, thriller, and mysteries for the most part were downright magnificent, combining everything that makes this young author's writing brilliant along with some very thought provoking messages.

In many ways this novel will feel strange to both those who are new to the horror genre and those familiar. It really doesn't fit snuggly into any genre and comes across like a hybrid experiment of differing stories. A mix of emotions are portrayed that range from depression to contemplation. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that several stories in this collection could change the way certain people live their lives. In particular, there is one story that I feel should be required reading for families suffering with domestic disputes. It's just that powerful.

Though this novel did not in any way convince me to explore the horror genre further, and in most cases accomplished just the opposite, it has once again cemented my fandom for this rising novelist.

While readers will most likely be unable to appreciate this collection as a perfect whole, the individual stories contained within it that portray the best of this talented author will prove unforgettable and gripping. If readers aren't too squeamish and can tread through the darker material to find the gems within, this book, like his previous, is simply not a book one can afford to pass over and should be promptly added to any book-lover's shelf.

For more reviews, visit The Figment Review online at: [...]
4.0 out of 5 stars Zoo 26 Jan 2014
By Donald Pachinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Zoo is aptly named, besides it a short story in the book, as it is filled with a mix of interesting horror themed stories. Some stand out above the others; my favorites being "In a Falling Airplane" and "In a Park at Twilight, a Long Time Ago". Otsuichi never fails to deliver twists and turns in an horrifyingly entertaining way. Worth reading through!
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 23 Jan 2012
By Daniel Solow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Zoo" is more interested in presenting compelling situations than anything else. This is made clear by the simplistic prose, which is just enough to get the job done. It's not exactly fair of me to judge the author, Otsuichi, by a translation of his work, but that's all I can do. I have no idea how this stuff reads in Japanese.

So it's the ideas behind the stories that matter here, and most of them are pretty good. There are three standout stories: "Zoo," "Yoko and Kazari," and "Seven Rooms." The rest are solid, but those three steal the show. I won't describe the plots of any of them because slowly figuring out what's going on is part of the pleasure of reading this collection.

These stories are pretty gloomy and downbeat. There are some exceptions, but in general if you don't like black humor you probably won't appreciate them very much.

If you do like black humor, I highly recommend this collection.
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