Zoo City is a scab of a community, a crowded slum where some people a bonded with an animal ‘familiar’ – to use a (pardon the pun) more familiar term – referred to as ‘zoos.’ Zinzi lives in Zoo City, along with her Sloth. Zinzi has a ‘gift’ of finding lost things. Though she doesn’t like looking for lost people things are a bit tough for her right now and she needs the work. She’s hired by music producer Odi Huron to find a teen pop star – one of the members of a group known as iJusi.
At one time in her life, Zinzi was a reporter, until a drug habit landed her in prison. Now she’s weighed down by guilt and her sloth, trying to find her path. But as she searches for iJusi she encounters something pretty deviant…someone is snatching Zoos and cutting them up to sell their parts to make a little money to buy drugs. And someone who knows about Zinzi’s past is making her out to be criminal.
Through the dirty, gritty streets in Zoo City, Zinzi has to evade both the criminals who inhabit the area and the law who would rather leave Zoo City to rot.
I’ve written before, not too long ago, about my appreciation for Beukes’ writing. Zoo City is part horror/dark fantasy and part urban fantasy, and entirely original. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that was this unique. It is also incredibly gritty and dank. Beukes writes so sharply that I felt I could smell the neighborhoods and the sewage drains and I could feel the fur of Zinzi’s sloth.
Beukes’ writing is so incredibly captivating and the ideas she works with are so original, and her South African locations so unusual (to me at least) that it’s easy to overlook the simplicity of the plot. There’s an awful lot that Beukes doesn’t tell us – which I actually kind of like … up to a point. If answers don’t come at all and I’m left with more questions than answers at book’s end, then something might be missing.
Still, I am at a point where, if I see Lauren Beukes’ name on a book, I will want to read it because I know I will be taken somewhere completely new, and I like that a lot.
Looking for a good book? Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City is a highly original dark urban fantasy that will leave you breathless and you might not even notice that the plot is a little on the thin side.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
author: Lauren Beukes
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 416 pages