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Zoo City [Kindle Edition]

Lauren Beukes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description


Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty online 419 scam habit – and a talent for finding lost things. But when her latest client, a little old lady, turns up dead and the cops confiscate her lastpaycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job: missing persons

An astonishing second novel from the author of the highly-acclaimed Moxyland.

FILE UNDER: Modern Fantasy [Black Magic Noir / Pale Crocodile / Spirit Guardians / Lost Stars]

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Editorial Reviews


"Beukes (Moxyland) delivers a thrill ride that gleefully merges narrative styles and tropes, almost single-handedly pulling the "urban fantasy" subgenre back towards its groundbreaking roots." - Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"Zoo City is a fabulous outing from an extremely promising writer... [it] has so much fabulous wordplay, imaginative settings and scenarios, and such a dark and cynical heart that I was totally riveted by it." - Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“In Zoo City we have an unfamiliar land full of familiars, a broken Johannesburg
of the near future peopled with damaged wonders. Proving her debut novel was no fluke, she writes better than I wish I could on my best day. If our words are bullets, Lauren Beukes is a marksman in a world of drunken machine-gunners, firing her ideas and images into us with a sly and deadly accuracy, wasting nothing, never missing. I’ll follow her career as long as she’s willing to write and I’m able to read.” - Bill Willingham, creator of Fables

Zoo City is a story of mysteries unfolding, and it is a story well told. But it’s the world around the story, and the words that guide us through, that make it something more than simply marvellous. With her subtle, intimate descriptions of the roads we walk in this crazy city; with characters so deeply twisty you could lose a giant squid in their nebulous hidey holes, and with turns of phrase that are as likely to conjure up Rudyard Kipling, Brenda Fassie or Credo Mutwa as they are to invoke Japanese anime, Doctor Who or the crack in Johnny Cash’s voice as he sings of his greatest loss, this canny authoress has brought real magic to everyday life in Jozi, in what I’m afraid I really am going to end off by describing as an act of unadulterated literature.” - Matthew du Plessis, Times Live

"This book is a must read for lovers of South Afric...

About the Author

Lauren Beukes is a writer, TV scriptwriter and recovering journalist (although she occasionally falls off the wagon). She has an MA in Creative Writing, but she got her real education in ten years of freelance journalism, learning really useful skills like how to pole-dance and make traditional sorghum beer. For the sake of a story, she’s jumped out of planes and into shark-infested waters and got to hang out with teen vampires, township vigilantes, AIDS activists and homeless sex workers among other interesting folk. When she’s not tutoring her baby daughter (aka the queen of eeeeeeevil) in practical ways to take over the world, she also writes books, short stories, magazine articles and TV scripts various.

Product Details

  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (September 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003ZSIT0M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,370 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the kind of UF I want to read January 13, 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Going into Zoo City, I didn't know what to expect. This is my first novel by Lauren Beukes, but I have heard great things about her other novel, Moxyland. What I found was a very unique and exciting experience in an urban fantasy world, one I haven't enjoyed as much since I read War for the Oaks by Emma Bull.

The story centers around Zinzi December, a young woman living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her life isn't going so great, having once had a job as a journalist, she is now writing scam emails to pay back a large debt. Things change when she is approached by a music producer who wants to hire her to find a missing recording artist. You see, Zinzi has a special gift: she can find lost things. Not people, she insists, but she cannot turn down the job, which can essentially pay enough to cover her debt and beyond.

Zinzi can find lost things because that's her ability she manifested when she became Animalled. In the world Beukes has created, something called the Zoo Plague emerged, causing anyone who commits criminal acts (we don't know the extent of the requirements) is bonded to an animal for life. This situation is coined Acquired Aposymbiotic Familiarism and no one really know why or how it works. We are shown very little, mostly through separate pieces of information such as web pages or magazine/newspaper articles.

Zinzi was burdened with a Sloth (and that's what she calls it). One of the fascinating aspects of this novel is realizing and imagining what kind of an effect this sort of thing could have on society. Zinzi murdered her brother and she will forever be seen as an Animalled. Society has shunned these people, creating a whole new social class beneath everything else. Some have even used this to gain fame.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars South Africa on the Attack! February 4, 2011
By S. Duke
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When my friend and I asked Lauren Beukes to describe Zoo City, she understandably remarked that the book is rather difficult to explain. Zoo City isn't like a lot of books. On the one hand it is a noir murder mystery with a semi-New Weird slant, but on the other it is a novel about refugees, the music industry, South Africa, guilt, revenge, drugs, prejudice, poverty, and so much more. It is a gloriously complicated novel with equally complicated characters. You might even call it a brilliant example of worldbuilding from outside of the traditional modern fantasy genre.

Zoo City is concerned with Zinzi December, a former convict who, like many others, must bear the
mark of her crime in the form of a semi-intelligent animal -- in her case, it's a sloth. But there's also the Undertow -- a mysterious force that some claim is Hell reaching out for the damned souls of aposymbiots like Zinzi. Aposymbiosis, however, isn't all bad. Every aposymbiot is gifted with an ability. Some can create protective charms while others can dampen magical fields. Zinzi can see the threads that connect people to their lost things. And that's how she survives: finding things for people for a modest fee. But when she takes on a job from a music producer to find a missing girl, things get sticky. Her employer isn't who he seems and the person she's trying to find might be running for a good reason. Toss in her debts to a shady organization of email scammers, her complicated relationship with her refugee lover, a murder, and the seedy underbelly of a Johannesburg trying to deal with its new "problem" and you have a complex story about South Africa, its people, and its culture.

Zoo City is immense in its complexity, despite having the allure of a typical genre romp.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zoo City Noir November 12, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I admit I was a bit curious about "Zoo City", though hesitant due to the lack of reviews.

We are initially introduced to Zinzi December. Though at first she seems a bit grubby and stark, we soon learn that there's a lot more to her then first meets the eye.

Zinzi December is really an amazing woman (and let's not forget her Sloth, her 'magical ally' [who would have thought a sloth could be so endearing]) with the ability to find lost things by following their psychic cords. Sure she has some faults, but her heart is in the right place, and she is a quick learner, even if she has lived the fast life and done her share of dark deeds.

As for the story, once it gets going, hang onto you hats, 'cause it's a whirlwind ride. This is a dark, devilishly cunning, piece of writing. Zinzi, with her wits pushed to the edge to survive, is a force to be reckoned with, but as in real life we are not so sure who prevails in the end. Still I hope there will be more books with her. I really like Zinzi December's style.

Thanks to Lauren Beukes for a great story.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and Intriguing (Kindle Edition Review) May 12, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am recommending Zoo City, but not to just anyone.

Zoo City is written in first person present tense. I'm fine with first person, but present tense tends to bug me. Someone who doesn't like either would probably be more irritated than not by the book.

The bit with being bonded to animals is, to be blunt, bizarre and beyond making any sense. Buekes somehow manages to make it work anyway. It's a case of not merely suspending disbelief, but tossing disbelief completely to the wayside. As long as you can do that and just go with it, you won't be bothered by the complete lack of logic. And in fact I enjoyed that aspect despite, and maybe because of, the huge risk the author took with it. Zinzi would seem naked without Sloth.

Because the book is by a South African author it contains a lot of words and slang that an American reader will not understand. (I'm guessing, but some seems to be Afrikaans and some Zulu or something similar.) There's also a lot of Brit slang and the book is full of pop culture references. Many of them an American reader will get, and some they won't. This didn't detract from the reading for me as I really enjoy books that immerse me in a different culture in this manner. It's a way to learn about other parts of the world while being entertained at the same time.

Some parts of the plot are predictable, intentionally so since the author provides enough hints. But even with that, how you get there is often highly unpredictable. Which makes it fun. Buekes is a good writer and very clever with her wordsmithing. I don't think she's as strong in the storytelling department though. While I definitely enjoyed the book, I also felt there was a certain indefinable something lacking that left the story seeming a bit hollow at times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
urban fantasy? dystopian? magical realism? I don't know, but Ms. Beukes' novel is fantastic! our protagonist isn't a particularly good person, but is all too human in this world.
Published 28 days ago by michell fishman
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool concept, but I felt like I missed something
As far as I know there wasn't a prequel that I missed, but I wished more exposition would have been given at the beginning. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sarah
4.0 out of 5 stars Not my usual genre
Lauren Beukes came highly recommended, so I decided to step out of the comfort zone of my usual reading genres and give Zoo City a try. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Salzw59
3.0 out of 5 stars Zoo City
Enormously imaginative and very unusual this South African mystery is quite magical. Violent and brutally honest it grabbed me by the intellectual lapels and hauled me in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paige Harrison
3.0 out of 5 stars Zoo city
I liked the book but it was a little too slow and boring for the first 85% and then it finally got exciting.
Published 2 months ago by Dee
4.0 out of 5 stars Zoo City
fun book! and kept my attention while reading the entire book. Will look for more from this particular author in the future.
Published 2 months ago by Keysbrat
4.0 out of 5 stars Like living in someone else's dream.
For a dystopian novel, this was surprisingly positive. The world created is plausible. The story had many many holes, but done deliberately to keep the reader just a little... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Martha Ronemus
4.0 out of 5 stars cool and different
combination of noir detective novel and magical realism makes for an exciting and fascinating read. south african setting adds to the tension. recommended!
Published 2 months ago by David A Green
1.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, disjointed, and dull
I bought this book because I love urban fantasy, which was the genre of the book, and because it was Amazon's daily deal for Kindle. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zhaan
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an amazing book.
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. The concept is similar to Philip Pullman's animal daemons (souls) but with it's own unique twist. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pamela Watson
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More About the Author

Lauren Beukes writes books, comics for DC Vertigo, movie scripts, TV shows and occasionally journalism.

She won the Arthur C Clarke Award and The Kitschies Red Tentacle for Zoo City, a gritty phantasmagorical noir about magical animals, pop music, refugees, murder and redemption in the slums of inner city Johannesburg. She is currently adapting the novel as a screenplay for Oscar-nominated producer Helena Spring.

Her debut novel, Moxyland is about a neo-corporate apartheid state, bio-engineered art, nano-branding, cell phones used for social control and terrorism.

The Shining Girls, out May/June 2013 is about a time-travelling serial killer.

She recently made her comics debut in the Fables universe with a Fairest mini-series called The Hidden Kingdom with art by Inaki Miranda. The six issue arc follows Rapunzel travelling to Tokyo to confront a dark secret from her past.

She also writes for kids TV shows including Florrie's Dragons and Mouk and co-created South Africa's first half hour animated show: The Adventures of Pax Afrika.

She's a recovering journalist, who has covered everything from wannabe teenage vampires to township vigilantes and directed a documentary, Glitterboys & Ganglands about South Africa's biggest female impersonation beauty pageant, which won Best LGBT at the Atlanta Black Film Festival.

She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and daughter.

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