Russ Meier's Reviews > Zoo City

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
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M 50x66
's review
Feb 15, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, urban-fantasy
Recommended to Russ by: Jason Kennedy
Recommended for: Fans of urban fantasy

I really enjoyed this gritty urban fantasy written by South African Lauren Beukes. It was the February selection in my Science Fiction book club. The story is told from the perspective of Zinzi December, a recovering drug addict whose former life was journalism, the story takes us deep into the underworld of a fantasy Johannesburg. In this Johannesburg, people who commit murder are met by an animal that attaches to them for what we can only presume is the rest of their lives. The animals serve to assist their people in making better decisions and thus serve as a sort-of supplemental conscience. But, sadly, the animals also become blatant signals to the rest of society that violent criminals are walking among them.

A mystery novel is mixed into Beukes fantastic description of both the affluent and the underworld of Johannesburg. This adds plot and a reason for Zinzi's animal, a sloth, to assist her in making choices. Every animal comes with a magic skill for their person. In Zinzi's case, she finds lost things by reading the emotional threads of attachment between the thing and the person that lost it. Usually she hunts only for non-living objects, but in Zoo City she receives an "offer she can't refuse" to look for a missing girl - a pop-star brat running wild. To see why she can't refuse, you'll have to read the book!

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