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Zoo City Paperback – 2 Sep 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2 Sep 2010
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (2 Sept. 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 (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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

About the Author

Lauren Beukes writes novels, comics and screeplays. She's the author of the critically-acclaimed "Broken Monsters," the international best-seller, "The Shining Girls," and the high-tech fable "Moxyland." She worked as a journalist and as a show runner on one of South Africa's biggest animated TV shows, directed an award-winning documentary and wrote the "New York Times "best-selling graphic novel, "Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom." She lives in Cape Town, South Africa. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Quicksilver TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Sept. 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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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 Verified Purchase
I really felt in two minds about this book. In direct contrast to another reviewer, I very much liked the early stages. I loved the language, the energetic, richly metaphorical, invented slang that you don't yet understand but which conjures up the smell of another place, its noise and dirty streets. I was a bit mystified by the central trope (people who have sinned in this world, committed a crime, mysteriously get an animal that they must look after for ever more, a kind of literal monkey-on-your-back) but assumed I was meant to be: I nevertheless found it intriguing and looked forward to it being revealed and developed. But it never is developed, and nor is the story. The heroine essentially functions like a private detective, brought in to find a missing pop star kid: cue lots of interesting possibilities for playing with the blend of genres. But she never finds anything, or does anything much, except get into spots that others must get her out of. And then the end happens and its over. There is nothing to carry the whole weight of the book except the trope of the sin-bearing animals, and that isn't interesting or evocative enough to do it: in fact, it isn't developed beyond a vague idea, maybe, of bearing responsibility. Finally, I was left uncertain what I was to take from the book, what the author thought I would enjoy about it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Zoo City is a highly imaginative and creative story; a kind of modern version of cyberpunk - blending new cultural forms and urban dystopias into a rich kaleidoscope of colour and action. Indeed, it reminded me of William Gibson circa Virtual Light. This is no bad thing. Beukes is something of a 'word pimp' in her own words, fashioning some nice prose and a richly realised world. I suspect it is a book that needs a second reading to fully appreciate all the nuances of the story. There is so much going on, some of which is only obliquely explained, that it sometimes a little difficult to follow what is unfolding. And whilst the story is engaging and clever, it is also seemed a little uneven its telling. That said, Zinzi December is an interesting character that's fun to spend some time with and the book is populated with other colourful folk and subcultures. Overall, a entertaining read that works on different levels.
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