Read Zoo City by Lauren Beukes Online


Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festeZinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own....

Title : Zoo City
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007327683
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Zoo City Reviews

  • Tatiana
    2019-04-10 16:57

    As seen on The ReadventurerJust when I think there is no urban fantasy in existence which breaks away from the formulaic and same-old-same-old, I come across this gem, thanks to Guardian book podcast. Hurray! As with most of inventive and unorthodox genre deviations, describing Zoo City is a pain. I'm tempted to just call it a Paolo Bacigalupi/The Golden Compass mix and leave it at that, but I'm afraid I'll scare the readers away.So, Zoo city. What is it? It's a sort of ghetto area in modern day/alt universe Johannesburg, residents of which literally carry the burdens of their sins on their shoulders. In a form of animals. Zinzi December is fresh out of prison, with a Sloth and her guilt weighing her down. She makes her living by scamming naive losers on-line (glance at your email, I bet you have at least one message asking you to help transfer money from some African country for a generous fee) and putting to work her newly acquired magic skills (the only perk of "the animalled") - she can find lost personal items - keys, wallets, rings, that sort of thing. When Zinzi's creditor tightens the screws on her, she decides to free herself of her drug debt by taking on a case that she normally wouldn't - to find a missing person, specifically, a half of a popular music duo iJusi.Like all urban fantasy novels, Zoo City is a mystery, a thrilling one. But what sets it apart for me is not only the paranormal uniqueness (the whole idea of being an animalled and the moral implications that come with being one), but its very distinct sense of place. Joburg breathes. It's a vibrant, eclectic mishmash of drugs, sex, music, refugees, voodoo and, well, brutal humanity. I loved it.

  • Melissa McShane
    2019-04-19 23:06

    I hate it when I read a book that's beautifully written, but has a clumsy plot. I was seduced by the writing while I was reading it, and it wasn't until after I finished that I started realizing how many problems I had with it. In this alternate history/SF world, people's guilt over their mistakes or crimes manifests as animals that are emotionally or psychically attached to them, sort of like having an albatross hung around your neck, except living and not so corpsey. This was interesting to me, since becoming a Zoo is all about feeling guilt and not about whether you're really culpable of whatever you feel guilty about. Zinzi gained her Sloth because her brother died over something she did, which makes sense (her whole background makes sense, even). But she went to prison for it, convicted either of murder or manslaughter, and that doesn't fit at all with her memories of the event. It bugged me that this was never explained, because it made her prison time (an important part of how she's treated in the book) seem irrational.Mostly I felt like I wasn't getting the right kind of clues about where the story was going. The book starts with one of Zinzi's clients (she specializes in finding lost things) being gruesomely murdered, and because the crime scene is described in such detail, and Zinzi herself is temporarily suspected of doing it, it seems like finding the murderer, or finding out why the woman was killed, is what the plot will be about. But it isn't. The story immediately veers away into a missing-persons' investigation, and then *that's* derailed by a return to the murder, which is important after all. But the murder thing is just a distraction from the missing-person story, which is still the important one, except that it's really a cover for something else. The whole plot felt like it was there to give the beautiful writing a framework to hang on.And boy, is this beautiful. Beukes is amazing at describing places and characterizing people. Even when I didn't like her characters, and even when I thought their motivations were unrealistic, I was still impressed by how easy it was to envision everything that was going on. One of the most elegant and horrifying moments is when Zinzi and her supplier/employer/loan shark pull an email scam on a sweet, generous couple. Zinzi's job is normally to write the emails, but if a potential victim insists on meeting the orphan/rape victim/lost tribal princess, she has to play that role in person. It was sickening and infuriating not only for what it was, but because Beukes did an amazing job in showing how easy it was for Zinzi and her boss to take advantage of innocents.Once again I'm not sure how to rate a book like this. I know I gave it way more credit, and stuck with it to the end, because I'm a sucker for really good writing. But that's the same as saying I didn't like the plot. So I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could, but I'll mark it up rather than down.

  • j
    2019-04-01 22:54

    One of the things I loved the most about Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series was his rather brilliant twist on the concept of a witch's familiar: that in that world, each person's soul manifests as a companion animal that is their other half. It's not only because it's a cool idea; it also is an interesting reflection of our ongoing weird relationship with nature -- the connection we feel to the creatures of the earth, though most of us live far removed from it in cities and suburbs. And, you know, the idea of a little talking cat following me around is just fun. Provided, of course, you get a good animal like a cat, since you can't pick. According to the online daemon matcher they had on the Golden Compass movie website before it came out and failed, I would get a spider. I would not appreciate that. Other animals I would be happy with: Penguin. Welsh Corgie. Red-eyed Tree Frog. Lauren Beukes' Zoo City has a similar conceit, which is why I wanted to read it even though I'm not typically drawn to Urban Fantasy as a genre. Check it out: Set in 2011, in a world that is basically our own, except sometime around the mid-Aughts, a strange plague descended upon humanity -- suddenly, people who commit murder (or are even responsible for a death through indirect means) find themselves marked for all the world to see by the sudden appearance of their own companion animals. I imagine this would make criminal cases really easy to prosecute ("Can you point out the perpetrator?" "Yes, that's him there, with the Red Panda in his lap.") They aren't quite the talking creatures of Pullman, but they do seem smarter than the average bear (no, really, someone gets a bear), and they do become your devoted friend for life.Other than the whole "everyone knows you killed someone and therefore shuns you and you have to live in slums like the titular, crime-ridden Zoo City" angle, this doesn't sound that bad to me. i think a companion animal would be really fun! Did I mention they also grant their bearers useful magical powers? Hmmm, but then there is this downside where if your animal dies before you do, a black cloud of existential dread or something floats by to drag you directly to hell. So, also a negative.So as you can probably tell, this is potentially a pretty dorky premise, but Beukes pulls it off with aplomb thanks to a strong central character, a well-chosen setting and creative world-building that pieces out an explanation for the funky backstory through occasional non-plot chapters consisting of emails, news articles, and even an IMDb page for a documentary on "Animalism" (complete with a nice nod to Pullman: "If you enjoyed this, you'll like Steering by the Golden Compass: Pullman's fantasy in the context of the ontological shift;" I see what you did there, Beukes). Zinzi is a former journalist (and junkie) who lives in the slums of Zoo City, shunned because of her Sloth (which she has because of her Dark Past that is revealed slowly, and I must say the way the animals are doled out in this world seems slightly unfair at times). She's deep in debt to her former dealer and scrapes a living drawing in marks for 419 email scams (I told you it was just like our world) and using her special magical ability: finding lost things. Zinzi is a fun narrator -- clearly damaged, a sarcastic smartass hip to pop culture (she references lolcats! I'm going to need a shelf!) and highly capable on the job. Plus her companion animal is a sloth, so you know she's good people. Um, except for the murdery past.The plot is ever-so-slightly incidental, as it mostly exists in order to provide a method to reveal the range of ways in which the phenomenon of Animalism (aka Acquired Aposymbiotic Familiarism) has changed what is otherwise clearly our world (I mean, they have email scams and Britney Spears, so it's gotta be us). That's not to say it isn't an interesting mystery: Zinzi is roped into tracking down the missing half of a Bieber-eqsue pop group; not surprisingly, murder, mayhem, and a nefarious record producer are involved. For a while, it almost feels like it could be YA, but there's a violent undercurrent that never really goes away; Beukes doesn't want you to forget that our likeable heroine has a Sloth friend for a reason, and that it is a very bad reason. I may have mentioned that the climax is intense; it's not just gory but profoundly sad, and I don't want to tread into spoilers but the unspoken themes that form the backbone of the entire thing, about the burdens carried by people who have done bad things -- very very bad things, yes -- but have to learn to go on living in a society that doesn't want them around, are surprisingly affecting for a book with a cartoon sloth on the cover.

  • Bradley
    2019-03-25 21:58

    This is a particularly smooth genre-meshing urban fantasy noir SF horror, and if you don't like my description, then go read it and figure out your best fit. :) If you do, however, find that perfect descriptor, be sure to add all the little animas, the familiars that bad people get after murdering someone, and if you let your anima die, you get dragged to hell. Or is the novel firmly set in modern day Johannesburg filled with scams, missing persons, and mystery? Oh, wait, how about all the mutilations and the sense of upwelling horror? No? Then why the hell do I get this sense that things have just gone near-future high-tech?Well that's because the book refuses to sit still and be neatly defined. Isn't that wonderful?Our main character is a real spitfire, that's for certain, and I love reading about good scams as much as anyone, but that's just her favorite hobby and way to make money. For everything else and when times get rough, she falls back on a bit of the missing persons racket, and she really knows how to talk a good game. She's an excellent social hacker.As for the Urban Fantasy angle, I'll tell you this: it's interesting and odd and magical and it works perhaps a bit too strangely for me. I like a bit of well-defined rules, if only to see those rules get broken or find a way to slip the leash of hell, you know? But, alas, it isn't that kind of story.It is, fundamentally, full of elemental horror, which is great because I love horror and I think Ms. Beukes does it extremely well. This is the third novel that I've read of hers and all of them are quite a bit different in style, subjects, characters, and plots, save for the interesting parallels of con-games and horror. But rest assured, all the horror sequences are very, very different from one another, so you will all have a nice treat in store for you for each novel. :)I'm very impressed, in general, but I have to admit that I like this one the least between it and Broken Monsters or Moxyland. Suffice to say, I've grown to be a very steadfast fanboy of the author and I'm going to be snatching up each of her novels as I can find them, with much pleasure.Thanks goes to Netgalley and the publisher!

  • Carol.
    2019-03-28 15:46

    Wow.Zoo City is one of the more original, complicated fantasy books that I’ve read this year. I’m not even sure how to tag it, that’s how many elements come into play. Urban fantasy? Johannesburg is a major city, after all, and the animal angle is clearly unreal. Dystopia? Almost, but not quite; despite the animals, this is a current version of Johannesburg and African politics. Mystery noir? After all, there’s a missing person and an investigator of questionable character. Horror? A little witchcraft, a little mutilation, but mostly it’s only horror in that way that shows us our own hearts, evil enough to cut out. Literary fiction? It thoughtfully explores the human condition, guilt and identity. Mostly, it’s just interesting, creative and just a bit uncomfortable.Unfortunately, since Goodreads can't decide if the 2010 Terms of Service are the current ones, or the ones that Kara references in the"Important Announcements" thread, I'm going to have to post the rest of my review at places it won't be deleted:

  • Apatt
    2019-04-10 17:45

    Lauren Beukes’The Shining Girls fascinated me with her style and imagination, I thought it was a flawed gem but it put me on board for more Beukeses. The next logical book for me from the Beukes bibliography is 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Zoo City.Set in an alternate reality where some people are suddenly paired with an animal as a consequence of something heinous they have done (or perhaps think they have done). Basically, if you are bearing some major guilt chances are an animal will suddenly show up next to you and you won’t be able to stray far from it. If this brings to mind “familiars” concept from Philip Pullman'sThe Golden Compass / His Dark Materials trilogy the author is well aware of it and even mentions the classic YA book in one of the chapters. The concept works very differently in the world of Zoo City however, the people are not born with animals, not everybody have them, and the “animaled” people are blessed with some kind of minor supernatural talent. Beukes gives the condition a clever medical sounding name: “AAF or Acquired Aposymbiotic Familiarism”. She also keeps the purpose of the animals quite ambiguous:“But was the Penguin his Jiminy Cricket or the devil on his shoulder?”In a recent Reddit AMA (a kind of live chat online interview) Beukes describes Zoo City as“Black magic noir about a girl with a sloth on her back and the magical ability to find lost things.” a nice and succinct description that saves me writing much of a synopsis. The “girl” in the description is the protagonist Zinzi December (a lovely name), a complex anti-heroine of sorts. Zinzi and her adorable stoat live in a shabby apartment where she ekes out a living as a finder of lost articles and a writer of scam e-mails. One day she is offered a large sum of money to find a missing pop singer, a job that turns out to be very difficult and dangerous.Zoo City is an excellent urban fantasy, a subgenre I rarely read as too many of those are YA vampire romances. It is also a murder mystery thriller, and an allegory for the racism and violence still prevailing in Johannesburg. The storyline is a little convoluted but not too hard to follow, there is some hair-raising scenes of mortal danger and quite graphic violence. The ending is a little grim and the major characters’ storylines are not neatly wrapped up. A sequel does not appear to be in the works but it would be very welcomed.I would like to end this review with this quote (hi Cecily!):“A collection of movie monsters are posed all along the top of the bookshelf. On instinct, I pick up the one that looks like an upside-down dustbin with rows of studs down the side. As I do, it says "Exterminate!" and I nearly drop it.”You can always tell how great an author is by the number of Whovian references they make.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-03-21 15:52

    I read this directly after finishing "Moxyland" and my wild enthusiasm for Lauren Beukes is not abating!The setting is present-day Johannesburg, but in this alternate reality, a couple of decades ago, something strange started happening. Those who were guilty of terrible crimes were suddenly, magically saddled with an animal 'familiar' - reminiscent of the burden of the Ancient Mariner's albatross, but, well, alive. The "animalled" are also unable, it seems, to help liking and feeling affection for their animals. A further motivation to care for the beasts carefully is that their lives are inextricably bound to that of their familiars. They must maintain physical proximity, and if their animal dies (or is killed) that's it for them as well. Gaining an animal also comes with the benefit of certain strange powers. Predictably, the animalled are regarded with a complex ambivalence by society - one mirroring our current attitude toward "thugs." They are shunned and feared as the violent dregs of society - but there's also the sexy frisson of badassery and scandal attached to their image.Our protagonist, Zinzi, used to be an upper-middle-class young woman with a promising career in journalism. However, bad choices and drugs led to her current situation: living in a slum, a boyfriend who's married to someone else, getting blackmailed to work for a criminal scammer due to a debt, and oh yeah, with an animal - a sloth. She's also gained the power to find lost items, which she uses to make a little extra cash on the side, locating missing items for people.Zinzi "doesn't do" missing persons - but when a couple of mercenary agents who seem like bad news rope her in to a case by offering her enough cash to pay off her overwhelming debt, she breaks her own rules. A sleazy record producer's latest teen starlet has gone missing, and he desperately wants her back to record her next album. But was the singer kidnapped - or did she run away? Does anyone really have her best interests at heart?The fascinating, vividly gritty setting becomes the backdrop for a non-stop, action-filled and extremely violent mystery plot. Good, good stuff.Many thanks to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

  • Penny
    2019-03-25 14:51

    I loved it! :)I was over the moon when Zoo City was chosen to be one of the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club reads for November! A book set in a version of my home city with an interesting premise and great reviews! Yes please! In my excitement I emailed Lauren Beukes and asked if she'd do a Q&A with our group and she said yes! As you can imagine I was bouncing off walls! It occurred to me mid-bounce that this would be an awesome opportunity for Sod (you may know him as Murphy) to rear his ugly head and twist my mind into not liking Zoo City. Fortunately not even Sod and his silly Law could manage it :)The thing I loved most about this novel was how well Lauren captured Johannesburg. South Africa is a very difficult country to explain which I learnt for the first time when I lived in the US during my masters. Lauren explains the strange juxtaposition of wealthy suburbia with high walls topped in electric fences patrolled by security companies next to dilapidating buildings with inconsistent electricity and water next to tin roof shacks with no amenities save some shelter from the elements. Most portrayals of my home city irritate me because they miss the flavour of the city, the energy, the vibe. Zoo City really doesn't. It may not always put Joburg in a beautiful light, but it felt very authentic to this Jozi girl which was really amazing. The world building is stunning. It isn't done in halting bit and pieces, but flows naturally around the story. I found myself completely drawn in from the very start and it only got better from there. You learn about the “animalled” as you read, how it happens and why, and how the process changes your life. Zinzi is ever so real. I wouldn't call her a “strong female character” although I'm sure others have. She's clever and resourceful, but she has flaws and a past and issues. She has some brilliant coping techniques, in particular the counting trick, that must make her appear far more hardcore than she is. I loved her even when I hated her, but more than that I loved having the opportunity to hate her. She did some really awful things and I hated her for it, but that's life in the jungle.

  • ambyr
    2019-03-25 22:54

    Before I read this, I would have said there was nothing new you could do with the magical companion animals trope. I would have been wrong.I enjoyed this--for the concept, for the characters, for the setting. I was all set to give it four stars. And then the ending happened.(view spoiler)[And it's not that it's a tragedy that bothers me. I actually appreciate the author's chutzpah in having the twins die, in having the bad guys escape. (I less appreciate the bad guys' over-the-top characterization as psychopaths, but you take what you can get.) It's the fact that the protagonist's presence at the climactic scene had no effect, good, bad, or indifferent, on anything that occurred. She disables Mark--and not only does it turn out he's entirely unnecessary to the ceremony, his compatriots in crime don't even go looking for him? She brings Benoit, whose magical power is the opposite of Mark's--canceling magic, rather than enhancing it--and his presence doesn't disrupt the ceremony at all?I guess I wanted to see something change because she was there. Have Odi's death be partly her responsibility, have Carmen survive, have Odi not escape the undertow, something. Because otherwise, Zinzi's presence in the entire novel is basically a wash. She doesn't find Song, she doesn't earn the money to cancel out her debts, she doesn't disrupt the ceremony. I guess you can say she has some personal growth, but I didn't see it; she falls off the wagon on drugs, on alcohol. She's guilty that she got Benoit hurt, but we never see her accept that he's leaving her. She's burned even more professional bridges that will prevent her from going back to her old life, and she hasn't built any new ones.I like bleakness. But this is a little bleak, even for me.And even then, I'd be okay with it, if I felt the novel were cast as a tragedy. But it isn't. The final scene has a positively cheery tone. And that just causes too much cognitive dissonance for me. (hide spoiler)]As a side note, this (the MM edition) had the worst typesetting job I've ever seen in a professionally published book. Lots of random line breaks and mistaken indents, plus some unfortunate hyphenation. Maybe it's ignorable if you're not a typesetter yourself, but eesh. If I read any other Angry Robot books, I think I'd stick to the original TP edition--and hope it was cleaner.

  • Snotchocheez
    2019-04-14 14:51

    3.5 stars(sheesh, here we go again with Goodreads sucking up my reviews....twice...)Gonna keep this short: I was very impressed with my first encounter with Lauren Beukes' imaginative stylings (not unlike those of China Miéville).Zoo City, impossible to pigeon-hole (is it science fiction? dystopia? thriller? social commentary? good old fashioned magical murder mystery? kinda "yes" to all) is a bizarre, alternate universe'd, present day reimagining of Johannesburg, South Africa, one where criminals are required to have animal familiars assigned and in proximity to their person. These criminals, dubbed "zoos", easily identified with animals in tow, are often ostracized and segregated to ghettoes called Zoo Cities.The sinuous plot primarily focuses on one of these "zoos", Zinzi December, a 29 year-old woman who in her FL (former life) was convicted in her drug-fueled days for causing the murder of her brother and sentenced to carrying with her a sloth, shadily makes a living by carrying out internet scams and, on the side, finding lost items for people (thanks to an ESP-esque talent acquired along with the sloth). She's contracted by a music producer to find a the female half of a young twin Afropop sensation iJusi, who has gone missing. Zinzi's search takes her into the dark underbelly of Jo'burg, involving the militant guerilla-like tsotsi gangsta rap movement, the drug scene she fought so hard to recover from, and the world of muti (animal/human sacrifice for magical purposes).Ms. Beukes fascinating alterna-world building makes the novel worth exploring (even as the plot gets a thick and weird...and occasionally incomprehensible, thanks to strange ghetto patois sprinkled throughout). There were parts I couldn't quite fathom, not being familiar with South African customs, places, and pop culture (whether real or imaginary). She's got a few more books to explore (including at least one set in the States); I hope to eventually read them all. She's super talented.

  • Michael
    2019-03-25 15:43

    Lots of innovation in this melding of noir detective, cyberpunk, and urban fantasy genres. She doesn’t go overboard with any one of this triad. It was a fun ride mixed with a lot of disturbing elements. Having a likeable female hero helped me accommodate the widespread despair in the contemporary Johannesburg setting. But I am led to render a 3.5 star rating because of personal displeasure with the shocking and implausible dénouement to the tale. But then maybe horror is the 4th genre in the blend, which is not such a draw for me.The story is set in South Africa in the approximate present, with technology and the local and global social structures recognizably current. What is different is the emergence of a class of people who are “Aposymbiont” with an animal (“zoo” people in slang). Somewhat similar to the people in Pullman’s series that began with “The Golden Compass”, these individuals have an emotional dependence and telepathic relationship with a specific animal. For our hero, black thirty-something Zinzi December, her critter is a sloth; that for her boyfriend Benoit is a mongoose. These folks are downtrodden, tend to live in slums (“Zoo City”), and, though protected by civil rights laws, they are subject to much discrimination and tend to suffer stigma as a consequence. On the plus side, each has a special semi-magical talent. For Zinzi, her power lies in getting mental pictures of things that people have lost, a skill she harnesses to make a living. At first, the premise for the zoo people sounds silly. But having a close animal buddy wasn’t that hard to put under my wing. And the first-person perspective employed by Beukes drew me quickly into Zinzi’s case, which is finding a missing ring in the sewer system. The magical element for her character is easy to take, not much more than psionic skills claimed by many in the “real” world. When her elderly client turns up murdered, her financial straits force her to take on a less preferred type of case, that of a missing person. A wealthy, reclusive music producer contracts her to find a missing teen Afro-pop star. Using traditional gumshoe methods, she works up the usual range of subjects posing as a journalist, giving us a tour of the music scene and the lifestyles of the haves and have nots. When dangers and threats emerge from rocks she turns over, she uses her wits to survive more than the overused kickass toughness. The sloth helps watch her back in some cases, but largely is along for the ride. The detective work in an exotic city is satisfying. As with typical noir heroes, Zinzi has a good heart, but is jaded and compromised from past mistakes. The whole bit about how and why she, and others, are cursed with the animal symbiosis is the elephant in the room. From the beginning, all we know is that for her it has something to do with her recovery from addiction, which feels like some kind of Faustian bargain. The negative attitudes that the larger society places on the zoo people feels like some kind of metaphor for the aftermath of apartheid. In other ways, the burden of the animal link has religious overtones, like a Christian cross to bear for sins committed, some kind of voodoo punishment, or a twist on Hindu reincarnation. There is meat in the rest of the book for the reader to explore and dwell on these possibilities. Perhaps if I could digest a little better the shocking climax in the light of these questions, I would see a way to up my rating. I am impressed enough to read the other book by this talented writer, her debut dystopic novel Moxyland.

  • David
    2019-03-19 15:46

    This is not your average urban fantasy. It's set in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a world where murderers and other criminals acquire magical animals that are mystically bonded to them. "Zoos" are discriminated against, but with their animal also comes a magical talent, unique to each Zoo.Zinzi December is an addict whose drug habit got her brother killed, and thus burdened her with her Sloth companion and a magical talent for finding lost things. She's a very flawed protagonist, but very believable, a woman who's not a bad person but has made some really bad choices and is now swimming with sharks as a result. Beukes's world is interesting, both the animal companions with their mashavi talents coexisting with the modern world, and her dark, gritty portrayal of South Africa, with all of its poverty, homelessness, refugees, sex trafficking, drugs, and AIDS. Definitely worth reading for something outside the usual North American/Western European setting.The story gets a little bit choppy towards the end, and while I liked the fake magazine articles and academic essays describing the nature and history of the "animalled," it felt a bit like filler in places. Still, a good read that's a little outside the mainstream. I give it 4.5 stars, which I'm rounding up to 5 because I'd like to see more books like this in the "Urban Fantasy" aisle and fewer tattooed vampire-boinkers.

  • Ashley Daviau
    2019-03-28 22:43

    I wasn't sure to expect when I started reading this as I had no idea what it was about and bought it simply because the cover caught my eye. I'm really pleased I bought it because I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was such a fresh, original concept and quite unlike anything I've ever read before! I really loved the whole concept of the animals and Zoo City, it completely drew me in right from the beginning. I also really enjoyed that there was some magic mixed in but that it also had aspects of modern times mixed in as well. All in all I absolutely loved this book and the world that the author created!

  • RubyTombstone [With A Vengeance]
    2019-04-19 22:56

    While I'm not usually a big fan of urban fantasy, I really enjoy the writing style of Lauren Beukes, and loved her other novel Moxyland. Her female characters are strong, flawed and cynical, but above all realistic and relatable. On top of that, the protagonist in this one has a sloth. Yep. A sloth.Zoo City has one hell of an original premise - that people who commit a grave crime such as murder, find themselves bonded to a magical animal familiar, and should that animal die, a dark force called "The Undertow" claims that person - and yet this never seems to stretch credibility. That in itself is quite a feat. For me, it would have been much more satisfying had the "rules" been made clear, though. For example: Does it apply only to murderers? On what basis is a person deemed truly responsible for the act in question? To really give myself over to fantasy, I find that I really need to understand the internal logic. The same applies to the different forms of traditional and animal magic that form a large part of the plot. As someone who has a working knowledge of many forms of cultural and traditional "magic", I found the logic to some of the spells and practices to be rather unclear, and therefore slightly less credible.One of my favourite elements to this novel is Beukes' incorporation of local language and pop culture. The book is riddled with language and slang from various parts of the African continent and from various cultures. For the most part, the meaning of the words can be inferred from the context, but I did find myself spending a lot of time Googling all the same. Many of the words are surprisingly ungooglable, (my own word!), but I found some great references along the way, including the Sowetan Kasi slang dictionary here: Throughout the book, there is a lot of background information given on historical, political and civil issues from across the African continent. The references given at the back are well worth a read, and as valuable an exercise as the novel itself. Beukes not only thoroughly researched the specialised topics in her novel, but had a lot of guest writers involved in writing faux news articles, research papers, movie reviews etc. My favourite section was a set of prison interviews written by Sam Wilson. In three short case studies, barely two and a half pages in total, Wilson conveys a full spectrum of human experience and emotion, and hints at the potential of the central premise to be used as a basis for many more stories. I will remember the story about butterflies in prison forever, I'm sure.For me, structure, balance and symmetry are important in a novel, and I really found this to be an oddly unbalanced structure. The story chugs along quite smoothly for the first 75% of the book.... and then "Part Two" begins. I'm not sure it needed to be broken up into two parts, since there wasn't an enormous difference between the two. Part Two also seemed rushed, with the author racing to wrap things up, along the way skipping many of the details that could have made this a really wonderful novel.Don't be put off by my 3 Star rating - it's really more of a 3.9. I did enjoy the novel. I do really, really want a sloth. I'm just a little disappointed that the book didn't fully realise its potential. I look forward to Beukes' next novel all the same.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-04-04 21:55

    So, I was reading 419, which was all about 419 scams, and was very unimpressed. It wasn't perceptive, it didn't grab me, and the characters all seemed flat. Move your gaze a week or so, and I start reading this urban fantasy set in Johannesburg, and although 419 scams are only a very small part of what this book is about, the small space they occupied in this book was far more interesting and trenchant than the entire other book on the matter.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Jess The Bookworm
    2019-04-08 18:10

    This book takes the reader into the nitty gritty of Johannesburg, the slums, the underworld, and at the same time it introduces a touch of magic in a very unique way.Zinzi has committed a crime, and for that has been saddled with a connection with an Animal, a sloth, which she takes with her everywhere she goes. Due to her Animal connection, she has also developed the ability to find the lost things of other people. She lives in Zoo City in the Joburg CBD, where other people with Animals live, who, due to their criminal backgrounds, are ostracized and "marked" with their Animal.This book explores the dynamic of Johannesburg as a city, from it's slums in the CBD, to the more affluent suburbs to the north, while adding drama and flawed characters full of regrets that you somehow find yourself supporting.Very strange, but very gripping.

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-04-19 23:11

    Identity is a very fragile and ephemeral concept, and the philosophy surrounding identity fascinates me. If, in the immortal words of Ke$ha, “we R who we R”, then who we are differs depending upon whether we are alone or with people, with friends or with enemies (or, if you are Ke$ha, with frenemies). We perform identity, wearing it like a costume. But it’s not something we entirely control. Identity is not so much a costume as it is a negotation between two entities, for part of my identity is not just what I seem to be but how others see me and interact with me.Now imagine that with a sloth clinging to your back as an external manifestation of your complicity in someone’s death, and you have Zoo City.Lauren Beukes returns to Johannesburg, South Africa in her second novel, but it’s not the same city. Instead of a tour of a corporate-dominated near future, Beukes spins a bit of alternate history our way. Magic is real, albeit not as potent as some people might like, and it’s never more obvious but with the zoos, animalled, or—if you are feeling polite and politically correct, the aposymbiotic. People who are guilty of another person’s death—i.e., murderers—become spiritually attached to an animal. They can’t stray too far from the animal without suffering great pain. And if the animal dies, they are consumed by a cloud known as the Undertow. The animalled, or apos, are thus identified as murderers beyond the shadow of any doubt, and are treated like outcasts.Zinzi, our intrepid narrator, has a Sloth. It could be worse—at least she doesn’t have a carnivore, which I think would be more of a burden—but a Sloth is kind of a handful to carry around at times. Beukes implies that Zinzi’s complicity is not entirely with malice, thus establishing our otherwise downtrodden and morally ambiguous protagonist as someone who is, if not righteous, capable and worthy of redemption. Zinzi struggles to earn a living using her shavi—if you get an animal, you also get a minor superpower to go with it. Zinzi can find lost things, so that’s how she makes most of her money. In her downtime, she reluctantly composes new email scams for a company to whom she owes quite a bit of money. She gets involved with some even more unsavoury characters, like you tend to do, and that’s where the story becomes interesting.From thereon out, Zoo City becomes a spiralling descent into the dank madness of a divided city. Beukes’ economy of exposition and keen ear for dialogue and characterization are an asset here. I found this Johannesburg and this cast far more bearable and likable than Moxyland’s. I could sympathize with Zinzi’s plight and genuinely wanted her to succeed, cheering for her resourceful resilience and sighing whenever she suffered a setback. The plot is of the type that doubles back and folds up on itself several times over, which is not to say that it is too complex, but Beukes has skillfully tangled the various threads.On the one hand, this is a missing person mystery, with Zinzi in the role of lead private investigator. It has all the hallmark archetypes prowling its pages: the shadowy kingpin who both hires Zinzi and poses her a threat; his nefarious henchmen who are Zinzi’s untrustworthy allies; the love interest, whose relationship with Zinzi is far from one-dimensional; and so on. On the other hand, Beukes explores some of the ramifications of her magic and what it means to have an animal. In particular, the book takes a very sharp turn towards the end, after the mystery part is largely resolved, and Zinzi finds herself on the run for a crime she hasn’t committed.The twin motifs of guilt and innocence are huge here in Zoo City, for they compound that problem of identity that Zinzi and every other person with an animal feels. Nowhere does Beukes so clearly portray this as with Zinzi’s sometime-boyfriend Benoit. He has a Mongoose, and eventually we learn how he got it—the action of a terrified nineteen-year-old in genocidal Rwanda. Like Zinzi, he bears an external marker of his guilt—but does that make him a bad person? Benoit discovers his wife and children might still be alive in a refugee camp outside of South Africa, so he resolves to leave Zinzi and find them. Not only does this alter their relationship irrevoccably, it sets up an ending that is both poignant and nearly perfect.As I mentioned earlier, Zoo City takes a sharp turn two thirds through. Just as it seems that the plot is winding down, Zinzi stumbles on to a larger game as people try to get rid of their animals (without dying themselves) in a particularly gruesome and costly manner. I’m not a fan of this transition, because it felt jarring. Beukes puts enough foreshadowing earlier in the book that this additional story element doesn’t seem entirely out of place. But I wish it had been developed more gradually instead of suddenly exploding into the foreground in the last part of the book.Nevertheless, Beukes make up for it in the ending. I love the ending. It’s quite possibly the only way Beukes could have ended the book in a manner that is happy yet costly for Zinzi, which is exactly the balance she needed to strike. For Zinzi to escape these events completely unscathed would have been unrealistic and thematically unsatisfactory: after all, Zinzi still has to redeem herself for her actions as a scammer. Yet she is, I remain convinced, a good person who deserves that chance—and a chance is exactly what Beukes gives her. At great personal cost and with no promise of success, Zinzi sets out to fill in for someone else, just as that person made a regular habit of filling in for another.Because it all comes back to identity. We aren’t who we think we are; we are our actions. This is the truth Beukes exposes through Zinzi’s voice and decisions. Despite all the prejudice and hardship Zinzi endures as an impoverished, animalled Black person in South Africa, she realizes that there is one thing no one else can determine about her life: what she does. Other people might judge her and construct their own versions of an identity for her, but that can never rob her of her ability to act on her own beliefs and convictions. In Zoo City, Beukes hands us a protagonist with blood on her hands and a Sloth on her back, and in so doing she tells a story about a woman who reclaims her freedom to be who she wants, not who others expect her to be.

  • Kayıp Rıhtım
    2019-03-26 22:48

    Zinzi ile tanışın. Sırtında kardeşini öldürdüğü gün bir parçası haline gelmiş Tembelhayvan’ıyla bir Hayvanlılar Şehri sakini. Başka bir deyişle, kendisi gibi hayvan sahibi olanlarla tıkıldığı şehrin bir parçası. Aynı zamanda tüm kitabı ağzından dinlediğimiz, kesinlikle eğlenceli ve bu karanlık dünyada, insanın yüreğinin dayanmadığı olaylarda bunları katlanılır kılan uçarı, çılgın ve kesinlikle ağzı bozuk bir kadın.Tembelhayvan’ın Zinzi’yi hiç bırakmadığı gibi biz de onun eğlenceli tavırlarıyla kitabı elimizden bırakamıyoruz. Zinzi, bir hayvanlı olduğu gün aynı zamanda meslek edindiği güçlerini de kazanmış, 32 yaşında, siyahî bir kadın. Onun yeteneği kayıp şeyleri bulmak, ama dikkat edin, eğer kayıp şeylere insanlar dâhilse bu umurunda bile olmaz. İşi reddeder. Yoksa etmez mi?Son işinde bulduğu kayıp yüzüğü teslim etmeye giderken garip bir şey oldu. Zinzi’nin müşterisi hunharca savrulmuş bıçak darbeleriyle öldürülmüştü. Hem olay yerinde duran şu Malta kanişi ve Marabut taşıyan hayvanlı iki insanın teklifi de neydi öyle? Kayıp birini bulmasını ve karşılığında iyi para alacağını söylüyorlardı. Eh, Zinzi küfrü basıp reddetti. Tabii o zaman işler bilindik rutinde seyrediyordu. Ama şartlar değiştiğinde Zinzi’nin kararı da değişti.Hayvanlılar Şehri böyle eğlenceli, aynı zamanda merak uyandırıcı bir girişle başlıyor. Kötü şeyler sonucu ortaya çıkan hayvanlar ve bununla beraber kazanılan güçler var bu kitapta. Ayrıca, kayıp kızın Afrika’nın en ünlü pop grubu olan iJusi’nin ikizlerinden biri olmasıyla birlikte küçük yaşta ünlü olan gençlerin nasıl bir hayata düştükleri ve pek çoğumuzun özendiği o yıldız yaşamlarının gerisindeki kan dondurucu gerçeklere şahit oluyoruz.İşin içine Afrika büyülerinin de eklenmesiyle birlikte durum öyle bir karışıyor ki, sonlara doğru eserin en gerilimli ve dehşet verici yanlarına şahit oluyoruz. Oysa gerçek dünyada geçmesi ve yazarın oldukça başarılı şekilde bu yeni düzeni oturtması nedeniyle bir yandan da her şey oldukça olağan geliyor. Sanki hayvanlı insanlar hep vardı ve biz onları her gün bir yerlerde görüyormuşuz gibi hissettiriyor.Aslında kitabın ana kurgusu bu kadar. Ancak onu yücelten kısımları bu basit görünümlü kurguda değil, o kurguda sayısız girift doku oluşturan detaylarda. Çünkü o detaylar kitabı özgünlükte üst sıralara taşımakla kalmayıp, hem dolu hem de belli bir ağırlığa sahip bir eser yapıyor.Hayvanlılar Şehri’nin detaylarını bu kadar övdükten sonra, en sıra dışı parçalarından birini anlatmamak esere büyük haksızlık olur. Size bunca şey anlattım, ama henüz Dibeçeken’den bahsetmedim bile. Zinzi her ne kadar kitap boyu sinyallerini verse de, bu olgunun asıl anlamı sonlara doğru ortaya çıkıyor. Dibeçeken için yapılabilecek en yalın tanım, hayvanlı insanların laneti olduğu olacaktır. Ama olur da hayvan ölürse… İşte kıyamet kişi için o zaman başlar.Kitabın bir başka ilgi çekici noktasıysa ara bölümleri. Bu bölümlerde mailler, gazete haberleri, bazı internet sitelerinden alınan kullanıcı yorumları yer alıyor. Bunlar tamamen kurgu olmakla birlikte kitabın sonundaki “Teşekkürler” kısmından anladığımız kadarıyla yazar, analizleri ve haberleri konusunda uzman kişilere yazdırmış. Bu da kitapta saygı uyandıran bir başka etmen olarak bizleri selamlıyor.Ancak bitmedi. Çünkü Lauren Beukes bir yerde öyle bir ters köşe yapıyor ki, bu andan sonra hayvanlı insanların hayvanlarına nasıl bakacağımızı bilemez hale geliyoruz. Pekâlâ, onlar günahların beden bulmuş hali gibi, ama kötüler mi? Zinzi’nin Tembelhayvan’ı onun hem iş ortağı hem de kadının uygunsuz davranışlarında onu azarlayan, vuran ve küsen vicdanı. Şimdi bir daha düşünün, onlar günah tohumları mı yoksa günahkârların somutlaşmış vicdanları mı? Yorum tamamen bize kalıyor.Hayvanlılar Şehri, her ne kadar fantastik türünde olsa da herhangi bir fantastik okurundan çok, yetişkin kesime yakın okurlara hitap edecek yoğun bir eser. Aldığı ödülleri sonuna kadar hak eden bu eserin nihayet dilimize kazandırılmış olmasından da türün takipçisi olarak büyük mutluluk duyuyorum.- Hazal ÇAMURİncelemenin tamamı için:

  • Kirstine
    2019-04-06 14:45

    I don’t normally read urban fantasy (or urban science fiction, not entirely sure what genre this is), not because the books of that genre have let me down, but because I don’t particularly like urban settings. They make me sad, and for some reason all urban books are always pointing out the miserable conditions of our existence. As I owned this book, I thought I might as well read it. People have been giving it good reviews and the premise is pretty interesting. As someone who’s head over heels for Philip Pulllman’s ‘His Dark Materials’, the idea of someone getting a familiar – an animal – whenever they commit a crime (or a sin) is just deliciously wonderful. Here’s a manifestation of your guilt you have to carry around for the world to see and judge you by. Ah, but that’s not all they are! They also come with a gift (or a curse, depending who you ask). For Zinzi December, our protagonist, her Sloth came with the talent of finding lost things. Or people. This last part is what gets her involved in the subsequent mystery and crime solving. This is also where the story stops making a lot of sense. Zinzi normally doesn’t do Missing Persons (why? well, take a guess, because no one’s gonna elaborate on that) except then suddenly she changes her mind and takes on a missing persons case anyway (why? take a guess again, because no one’s going to fill in for you). A teen pop sensation is missing, Zinzi agrees to help find her and then she’s not missing (still not entirely sure how she was found) and then that’s not the mystery at all, but it kind of is? And some people die and there’s some drugs and clues I don’t exactly understand how Zinzi comes by and those clues lead us on deeper and deeper into this mystery, that I have no idea what’s about, but at least the writing is somewhat decent?Honestly, I have only a vague idea of what the story of this book is, and an even vaguer idea of how or what moves us forward. This book could have used another 50-100 pages simply for explaining things properly. You can’t write an effing detective story, even if it is urban fantasy, without letting your protagonist explain what the hell is going on and in what way these people and objects are significant to the story. You don’t just move us forward, keeping the deductions from us, and expecting us to still follow what’s happening. I’m willing to concede that I might not always have paid full attention to the text, so perhaps I’ve missed a few details, but no decent book should leave you thinking “I have no idea what any of that was for” when you’re doneI’ll give it props for its setting, main characters and the idea of familiars, but very little else. Still, I won’t dissuade you from giving it a go for yourself; you might find it worth your while even if I didn’t.

  • Books
    2019-04-02 20:10

    I always struggle with the first sentence of my reviews, so I’m just going to dive right in and tell you all about this stunningly magnificent book that surprised the hell out of me.Zoo City is really hard to describe. Why? Because I’m afraid I might not be able to adequately explain why this is a once-in-a-lifetime-MUST-read. If you’re not from South Africa, the setting and colloquial narrative might – at first - feel a little strange and disconcerting. Yet, well into the story, you’ll soon enough find yourself settling into Zinzi’s shoes. So don’t let the first few chapters deter you from immersing yourself into this very unique and magical novel. I promise you it will all be worth it in the end.Zinzi is a difficult protagonist to describe. She’s unconventional, for sure, but she’s brave, tough as nails, and is not afraid to speak her mind. That is only a small part of what makes Zinzi so extraordinary. There’s so much more to her. Throughout the story we discover more layers to Zinzi as she comes to terms with the death of her brother and trying to make a living in a brutal reality where she’s judged and ostracized. And I also have to say this about Zinzi’s animal companion: you’re going to love Sloth! He plays a minimal role in the story, but the few interactions we have with him is enough to steal your heart.You know what impressed me most about this book? Everything, really. But most of all, the story itself took center stage more than the characters, setting, and magical elements. This can mostly be ascribed to Beukes expertly managing to make the fantastical seem plausible. Two things about this story that also stands out particularly is the nail-biting suspense at the pinnacle of the finale (and what a magnificent finale!), as well as the conclusion. This is not a happily-ever-after ending, but it is a much better and appropriate ending than I could’ve imagined for Zinzi’s story.Overall, I was massively surprised and delighted by the ingenuity of Lauren Beukes’s imagination and creativity. She clearly put a lot of thought and effort into writing this book. I don’t read many South African authors; hardly any, to be truthful. But if Beukes’s quality of work is anything to go by, I’m definitely rethinking my stance on local authors from my homeland.

  • WortGestalt
    2019-03-29 16:51

    Zinzi December hat ein Faultier. Ein putziges Ding, ab und an schnauft es verächtlich, wenn Zinzi etwas tut, das es nicht gutheißt. Ansonsten hängt es meist nur so herum und tut, was Faultiere eben so tun. Und wenn Zinzi die Wohnung verlässt, hängt sich das Faultier wie ein Rucksack auf ihren Rücken und begleitet sie. Dieses Faultier geht überall mit hin. Es ist immer dabei. Immer. Für immer. Denn Zinzi hat ihren Bruder erschossen und gehört seitdem zu den Getierten.Die Welt, in der Zinzi December lebt und die der unseren eigentlich sehr ähnelt, sich seit den 80er Jahren nur in eine etwas andere Richtung entwickelte als wir es erlebten, hat eine neue Randgruppe bekommen: Die Getierten, auch „Zoos“ genannt, sind Menschen, die sich eines Verbrechens schuldig gemacht haben und wer Schuld auf sich lädt, der wird mit einem Tier und einer magischen Fähigkeit gezeichnet. Woher das kommt, weiß man gar nicht so genau, darüber wird spekuliert, eine richtige Antwort gibt es aber nicht. Man munkelt hier und da, Virus, Experimente, Gene, göttliche Fügung, aber mit Sicherheit kann man nur sagen, dass dieses Phänomen einfach irgendwann da war.Zinzi December also, früher mal Journalistin, ist nun so eine Art übersinnliche Spürnase. Und eine Geächtete. Mit ihrem Faultier ist sie gebrandmarkt, lebt in „Zoo City“, einem Viertel von Johannesburg, in dem alle „Zoos“ leben, ausgegrenzt von der Gesellschaft. Denn das sind ja alles Verbrecher! (Ist es wirklich so einfach? Die Frage stellte ich mir beim Lesen immer wieder, eben weil man doch weiß, dass es nie so einfach ist.) „Zoo City“ gleicht einem Ghetto, heruntergekommen und in ärmlichen Verhältnissen hausen hier die Menschen, die in der Gesellschaft keinen Platz mehr haben. Aber immerhin leben sie hier, in China werden Zoos getötet. Einen richtigen Job bekommt man mit einem Tier nur selten, aber Zinzis kann wenigstens ihre magische Fähigkeit zu Geld machen und spürt verlorene Dinge auf. Als es dann aber darum geht, ein verschwundenes Mädchen aufzuspüren, gerät auch sie an ihre Grenzen...Das ganze Buch glänze für mich vor allem mit seinem Ton, seiner Atmosphäre, seiner Stimmung und seinem Noir-Einschlag. Düster. Ein bisschen hoffnungslos. Und im Kontrast dazu auch ein bisschen pulp, ein bisschen flippig. Herausragend auch das komplette Figurenensemble, das empfand ich als perfekt inszeniert, die einzelnen Charaktere haben alle wunderbar in dieses Setting gepasst und auch die Handlung ist angenehm komplex. Diese Mischung aus Zukunft und Verfall, Urban Fantasy und hard-boiled, noir und auch ein bisschen pulp, das hat einen schönen Eindruck hinterlassen.Und die Idee ist einfach großartig, hat mitnichten Ähnlichkeiten mit der Vorstellung von Pullmans "Der goldene Kompass" und brilliert einfach in seiner ganzen Art. Ich wäre mit diesem Buch ansich restlos glücklich gewesen, wären da nicht so viele ungeklärte Dinge übrig geblieben, die ich in diesem Fall nicht als angenehm anregende offene Fragen am Ende sehen konnte, sondern als fehlende Puzzleteile in der Geschichte wahrnahm. Die Idee bietet so viel Raum und ich hätte mir gewünscht, dass der einfach mehr gefüllt wird. So hätte ich erwartet, dass es eine wirklich tolle, raffinierte, schlüssige Erklärung dafür gibt, warum und woher denn nun diese Tiere kommen. Da ist ja vom Pinguin bis zum Krokodil alles dabei. Mir ist es einfach zu ätherisch, so ein Phänomen als gegeben hinzunehmen. Ich bin eher der faktische Typ, ich muss das dann ganz genau wissen und das wieso, weshalb, warum wird für meinen Geschmack hier nur unzureichend erklärt. Wäre dies ein Reihenauftakt, könnte ich mich noch damit anfreunden, dass die fehlenden Erklärungen in späteren Bänden folgen, aber da das Buch im Original bereits 2010 erschienen ist und ich bei der Recherche keine Anzeichen für eine Fortsetzung entdecken konnte, muss ich davon ausgehen, dass das hier alles war und das finde ich schade. Wer sich allerdings nicht so sehr an Fakten klammert wie ich, kann diesen Kritikpunkt getrost übergehen! :)Aber einen habe ich noch, die Sache mit der Schuld! Auch hier gibt es für mich ein großes Fragezeichen,wieder eines der Art, das nicht ausschließlich angenehm ist, weil es zum Nachdenken anregt, sondern eines, das mir als logischer Knotenpunkt in der Handlung fehlt. Denn erinnern wir uns an die Ausgangsituation, Zinzi December soll ihren Bruder erschossen haben und trägt seitdem nun ein Tier und eine magische Fähigkeit mit sich herum. Sie hat Schuld auf sich geladen. Doch die Hintergründe dieser Tat bleiben unerwähnt. Und man weiß doch, dass da eine Geschichte lauert, wenn eine Schwester ihren Bruder erschosen haben soll. Da gibt es so viel zwischen schwarz und weiß, zig Grauzonen, die alle nicht beleuchtet werden. Wann fängt Schuld eigentlich an, wer macht sich wann eigentlich womit genau schuldig, geht es um die reine Tat oder auch um den Weg dort hin? Schließlich kann man auch Schuld auf sich laden, wenn man etwas nicht tut. Welche Verbrechen werden mit einem Tier gestraft? Lädt nicht auch der Schuld auf sich, der ein Kind schlägt, ein Auto klaut, Drogen verkauft? Wer dieser Frage nachgehen will, sollte das für sich tun, das Buch beschäftigt sich damit nicht weiter. Die Fragen entstehen beim Lesen nicht, weil sie die Figuren umtreiben, sondern weil ich als Leser von außen auf diese Welt schaue und mich frage, wie das nun eigentlich funktioniert, mit den "Zoos".Fazit: Ich bin quasi hin- und hergerissen. Zum einen fand ich das Buch großartig, die Idee ist fantastisch, die Atmosphäre und die Stimmung so schön düster und ein wenig abgefuckt und doch auch flippig, irgendwo zwischen Zukunft und Verfall. Die Figuren, geradezu perfekt in ihre Welt eingefügt, haben mich begeistert! Und die Kombination aus urbaner Fantasy mit einem Kriminalfall, was will ich eigentlich mehr? Vielleicht ein bisschen mehr Fakten, ein bisschen mehr greifbare Erklärungen, ein bisschen mehr die Themen auch aufgreifen, die man aufwirft. Rezension auch auf

  • Ranting Dragon
    2019-04-11 19:13 City is a standalone novel set in a fictional Johannesburg, South Africa. In Zoo City, if you commit a felonious sin, the Undertow comes for you and marks you with first an animal companion that serves as a manifestation of your sin, and second a supernatural talent. Both the animal and the talent are called “mashavi.” The sinners are called “aposymbiots,” and are relegated to living in a slum known as Zoo City.Zinzi December is an aposymbiot: her animal is a sloth named Sloth, and her talent is tracking lost things. While she prefers not to track lost persons, money is tight. So when she’s offered a sizeable sum for locating a missing young pop star, she accepts. Zinzi finds out, however, that with big money comes big risk.Great dialogueZoo City captures a textured, living world, where even the minor characters are vivid. In part, this is due to great dialogue—not the kind of highly stylistic dialogue where everyone sounds clever or cool, à la Elmore Leonard, but one that lends a verisimilitude to this breathing world. Each person sounds distinct enough to convey his or her personality, yet similar enough to constitute communities. Zoo City is written in the first person from the perspective of the articulate Zinzi. Zinzi’s observations and the rhythms of the dialogue together serve as the heartbeat of Zoo City.World building through literatureI also enjoyed glimpses into this world via its literature. Between certain chapters, we are presented with excerpts of writing: Zinzi’s 419 scam e-mails (if I ever got such eloquently written scam e-mails, I’d probably frame them), interviews with aposymbiotic prisoners (including one whose mashavi is a butterfly suggestive of Chuang-Tzu’s butterfly), and movie reviews of a documentary featuring the first known aposymbiot, a film student turned warlord whose animal was a penguin and talent was psychic torture. I really like this approach of world-building; it educates and entertains.Unique fantasyEven though the mashavi animals are partly reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s daemons from His Dark Materials trilogy, Beukes’s version is highly original. The animals are in part an embarrassment as a mark of sin, but there are also those humans who adopt real animals for “street cred.” For the aposymbiots who don’t get to choose their animals, however, life can be difficult if your animal is perceived as wimpy. As the Butterfly prisoner explains, “Don’t matter what you did, you got a bad-ass animal in here, you’re a bad-ass too. And it don’t matter how many people you killed, you got a Chipmunk or a Squirrel, you’re gonna be a bitch. Way it is.”Why should you read this book?Zoo City is one of the most original and captivating books I have read; I was hooked in five pages. Zinzi is also one of my all-time favorite heroines—she’s spunky, difficult, articulate, emotional, tough, intelligent, and repentant. If you don’t read Zoo City, you’re missing out on one of the best modern books in and outside the fantasy genre.

  • Lauren
    2019-03-31 22:58

    Oh, Zinzi. I wanted to like you, I really did.The book picked me up and carried me along until three-quarters of the way through, when it promptly dropped me and went off to lose its way.I found myself discombobulated at the start of chapters, because everything was in medias res and Zinzi had to backtrack to cover where she was and what was happening. It felt like an overly awkward way to tell the whole story - fine for chapters in which it was necessary, but that certainly wasn't the case everywhere.Also, the end. No explanation of any damn thing, not just limited to exactly how Zinzi had earned her sloth. She admits to the murder, I guess, but there's no information about what in the world was going on. Was [person she murdered] between her and her drugs, or her boyfriend or a story or ?. The Maltese and the Marabou are just gone. There are plenty of bodies scattered about. It feels like maybe Beukes was seeding the ground for a sequel, but that doesn't matter. Just dropping things like that is a bad choice. The Undertow isn't adequately explained. Animalling isn't, either. It's all too much handwaving, especially at the end.

  • Josh
    2019-03-29 21:49

    I like ZOO CITY more for the concept than actual story that is until the darker side of key players comes to light. Beukes creates a world teaming with real world comparisons separated by unique twists of the fantastical. The plot, once established, is pretty straight forward and conforms to the typical PI case format comprising a series of interviews, background digging, violent encounters etc as the protagonist, Zinzi December, and her sloth source the target. Having previously used her talents on trinkets or minor items of significance to their owners, the PI gig is a step into the unknown. Odi Huron, by way of an eccentric couple who specialise in ‘procurement’, hires Zinzi to locate a missing female musician, Songweza, seen as a good girl idol for the youth – using non-traditional techniques (PI’s, cops) to keep the disappearance out of the tabloids. One of the best scenes is separate to the core investigation itself, rather Zinzi’s battle against some thugs in the Johannesburg storm drains. It’s dark, wet and brimming with tensions and an overwhelming sense of foreboding. More of this would’ve added a much grittier undertone to the novel. The later stages of the novel uncover sinister motives and the drafting of magic concoctions formulated by macabre means that shocks and infuriates Zinzi (and all Animalled sympathisers alike). Linked to her investigation, she winds up in the jaws of death as the case takes a turn for the worse. The fusion of PI theatrics and wild animal rage results in a truly epic conclusion which for the most part is the novel’s highlight. The intermissions provide a glimpse at the fantastical world and the concept of the ‘Animalled’ and the alternate universe of Beukes’ creation. These deviations from the story are greatly beneficial in establishing context to the environment and enhance the overall believability of the concept. ZOO CITY is an interesting concept, a semi sleuth with a sloth attached to her…anyone who commits a crime is forced to ‘partner-up’ with an animal which cannot leave their side. It is set in South Africa but the place setting is very much inner city American ghetto. Living in Zoo City, a kind of quarantine for the destitute criminal accompanies all the vices typical in an urban ghetto-like sprawl in prostitution, gang activity, scams (though these are run by Zinzi herself), violence, and corruption. I thought Beukes did a great job at merging reality with fiction – nothing felt forced or entirely unbelievable. In summary: Was a little hard to get into, but worth persisting - 3.5 stars.

  • Cathy
    2019-04-03 21:11

    4.5 stars. This book drew me in from the very first page. Zinzi has such a clear voice, and every detail of the scene was so detailed and vivid, while still being effortless to read, that it made me feel like I disappeared into the story. Some books are just a bit smarter, with ideas that are more creative and clever, than others. When you add a great deal of interesting real-world issues to give the story a lot of depth, it makes a book very special. From the unique magical elements of the animals to the real world issues of poverty, war, drugs and much more, this book cover the gamut of ideas but it all worked really well together with a perfect balance of adventure, seriousness, humor, excitement, thoughtfulness and mystery. This book is a serious novel that happens to be urban fantasy. Although it has some magical elements, but I think that a lot of people who don't normally read fantasy would really enjoy it. I'd even gamble that it would appeal to the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo crowd. For one thing, the South African setting is very interesting to those of us who are not from that country. And the book is could even be categorized as a noir style mystery. The fantasy elements, primarily the animals, are a tool used to tell the story, and it's really interesting, but unlike some urban fantasy books, it isn't all that's going in here. It isn't like with a book about vampires where if you aren't normally interested in vampires then clearly you'd be out of luck. The heart of the story is Zinzi and what she's going through, about life in South Africa for a woman who needs a second chance, and about her trying to unravel these mysteries. Zinzi certainly isn't your everyday hero, she's made and continues to make a lot of mistakes, But there's something likable about her too, something very relatable. Something very, "but for the grace of God..." Anyway, consider giving the book a try, even if urban fantasy isn't your normal cup of tea. 

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-03-20 19:05

    In my review of Lauren Beukes's earlier book, Moxyland, I pointed out that so much is going on that even the characters don't know where they are. In Zoo City, I feel like Beukes has gone a little too far in the opposite direction - the setting is interesting (a simultaneous alternate South Africa where perps get 'animalled' and end up with special skills) but the plot is weak (something about a pop star and a hidden wife, but then it doesn't seem very important). I'm not sure I think she has as unique of a voice as everyone keeps saying. It was difficult to read about the animals the young adults living in Zoo City have (sloth, alligator, mongoose) without thinking of a much more richly written series with daemons and alternate cities, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. It is true that the setting is in South Africa, which is fresh to those of us not living there, except the author did a better job capturing the urban feel of what South Africa might become in Moxyland than in here. This could have been any city with a separate area for Zoo people. I like the character of Zinzi but the fluidity of her moving from detective to con artist to passable music journalist was hard to picture. I listened to the audio, and Justine Eyre does a great job interpreting all the different African accents in the book, from Nigerian to Kenyan to South African.

  • Aubrey
    2019-03-26 21:48

    3.5/5Well. I won't deny the fact that I didn't expect to love it. It may be that the recent trend of reading classics has left me suspicious of anything modern. Unfair, I know. But my reasons for this particular rating are sound enough for me. The writing was pretty typical: caustic wit, descriptive passages, hints at the unknown until they are dragged into the light. You know. (view spoiler)[But it didn't help that I had the overwhelming urge to reread 'The Golden Compass' during the first half of the book and the fervent desire to rewatch 'Ghost' during the second. Because that's essentially what the main creative sparks were driven with.(hide spoiler)]That and the whole African music scene, which I didn't understand much of; bit difficult to enjoy pop references when you can't tell what's real and what's fiction. The book would be a plain three star if it wasn't for the interjections of reality between chapters: spam email, news articles, excerpts from scientific articles, even the webpage of an IMDB style movie article. Those were refreshing, and indicated some real thought into the universe. If only the main framework wasn't so obviously inspired. And the ending wasn't the greatest either. I didn't see any mention of a sequel in the book itself, but I think it could do with one, if only to give the author a chance to expand the universe a bit more with ideas of their own. And avoid having that ending being the end.

  • Wealhtheow
    2019-04-16 16:44

    Zinzi December grew up rich and privileged, but her drug addiction led to the death of her brother and jail time. Now she lives in Zoo City, the ghetto for the animalled--people who are guilty of something so bad that an inexplicable force gave them an animal, which they are connected to for life. They cannot be separated from their animal without great pain. Animals are a source of shame and social stigma, and with a sloth in tow, Zinzi is forced out of journalism and into working odd jobs. With her creditor making increasing demands, she decides to take a lost persons case.This is an unexpectedly lively book, with a strong, unique voice to the main character. The Johannesburg of the future is a bustling contrast of wealth and poverty, technology and old magics. Zinzi's friends and contacts are each interesting puzzles in their own right. The action is bloody, the magic rightfully scary, and the plot as twisted as classic noir. It was all too grim for my taste, but the darkness felt earned, not pasted on to earn cool points. (My one real caveat is the last chapter, which feels a little abrupt.)

  • Derek
    2019-03-23 19:45

    Whoa! This was one thrilling ride. Lauren Buekes' writing comes off so effortlessly. The story, the pacing, the setting and characterization all comes off beautifully. It's a high energy noir that leaves your nerves bristling with excitement and the ferocity of her phantasmagoric original ideas leaves you totally awed by her talent. This was one fantastic read, AfroSF at its best.

  • Christal
    2019-03-23 19:58

    Do you know the best thing about this book? It is ACTUAL urban fantasy. it's not paranormal or supernatural harlequinn romance masquerading under the banner so they can sell more books to unknowing fantasy fans, it truly is the genre it claims to be. Now, having said that, the book was mediocre. The ideas were great, big time, and the setting in Africa and the African female protagonist were somewhat believable, however Beukes did not strike me as a great storyteller at all. Which for me is much more important-- the ability to grab my attention and make me care about the characters, to go through the emotions and become attached to them. Zoo City is set in Johannesburg's slums where Zinzi December squats with her neighbors of the dubious persuasion but are all humans in their own right. Zinzi, who came from a family with money, has been disowned and outcasted as she is animalled. She was a party to her brother's murder when she got caught up with the wrong people and carries the guilt in Sloth form with her wherever she goes. Zinzi is still dealing in the scamming business trying to pay back her drug debt to keep herself and her boyfriend at the time alive, and her mashavi (the magical ability given to her once she was animalled) to find lost things winds her up on a job to find a missing person, a missing teen that is from a high profile teen pop act in Africa that is worth 1.5 million to her producer/owner Odi Huron. What follows is a gritty story through the dregs of the slums, the foulest behavior of the human species, and the ability for redemption. We also see the more humanitarian side to outcasts that we as a society normally turn a blind eye too, people that are scoffed at as 'unclean' as if they were not humans at all. But not too much, this book is not a full redemption or good vs evil triumph story. I will say that I am torn with how the writer presents the story and characters. On one hand I have to give it to her, Beukes had the Moxy to get down and gritty and follow through with the ending. It isn't pretty, but she made a decision on the path she set her story and allowed it to come to a conclusion that made sense, even if it meant the death of 2 teenagers quite gruesomely, the injuring of a good hearted character, and the protagonist on the run from the cops and in search of righting a wrong that she has committed while hitting rock bottom. But I do have a slight problem, and it comes with trying to figure out why I didn't connect with the characters like I should have. The writing wasn't bad, it was interesting (though not great), and the setting was believable and always see-able in my mind as I read. But something never clicked, something that was always off and I wonder if it has to do with the writer herself. She is South African, a journalist that has no doubt reported in the ghetto/slums of Johannesburg or elsewhere while first starting out. But she is a white, middle or upper middle class woman. She's not lived the life her characters have and I think that may be what makes them unrelatable... because they aren't fully believable. But this is also the same that goes for writing about a main character who was supposedly a junkie, who is paying off her drug debt while trying to stay clean. And yet Zinzi's character glosses over the drugs. She is quick to point out when she can easily spot the dealers, but she never deals with the temptation of being a former addict until the very end when suddenly she hits 'rock bottom.' It just wasn't believable that she could easily stay sober when assaulted with the easy access she had to drugs, never swaying, and then at the end basically doing a 'oh well I need her to go past the edge so I guess I'll have her finally fall of the wagon' moment. Which also brings me to the alcohol. Supposedly she was in rehab for it as well as the drugs, yet she easily takes a drink once or twice saying she has 'earned it' with no repercussions just like any non addict would have. Alcoholics don't do that, they can't just have a casual drink every now and then, otherwise they wouldn't have been an alcoholic in the first place. They fight with the temptation just as drug addicts do, and can easily go back into old habit with just one drink. But the writer most likely has never had these problems, or had a close friend or family member that had one that she became privy to their demons to see what happens. So it's mostly glossed over -- shiny. Makes a great backstory to help shape the personality, but without the experience to give it some heft it's basically a shallow ghost of what could have been, and hard to really become attached too and believe. And I think that's what is missing from the characters, a credibility. Beukes may like to throw herself into her work, who knows maybe she interviewed people from the ghetto, maybe she 'went native' for a few days to see how the poor live, but it seems through her writing like she's never had to live like that with no hope of ever going above that type of lifestyle. I'm not saying that no author could ever credibly write about it without having experienced it first hand, but that is a very, very hard feat to accomplish and for me Beukes certainly did not hit the mark. Still, all in all a good book, def recommend worth reading as it is different from your normal NYT bestseller doorstop. And while not totally authentic there is *enough* to get a very decent picture of that type of life and a snapshot of an African city torn between being civilized and yet still caught in the old ways of magic and mystery.