Review: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Synopsis rom GoodReads: 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 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.
I read this as part of Ellie’s Sci-Fi read along challenge for 2012. Sadly for me since I read it on the kindle I didn’t get the pretty cover above, one of the downsides of not reading real paper books I suppose!
Zoo City is a novel based in South Africa, which isn’t a country I know a massive amount about and whilst I didn’t find that detracted too much from the story it always bothers me when books write certain words in other languages and fail to translate them. (See Lloyd Jones’ Hand Me Down World for that annoyance, too).
Overall I enjoyed this book but I felt really let down by the ending. I felt like the loose threads were lingering and things that could have been explained weren’t. I don’t want to give too much away for the people still reading it (Hi, Amy) but the premise of people carrying animals as a signal of guilt is a good one. I enjoyed His Dark Materials and whilst this is similar in nature the storyline is obviously more complex.
Things I liked: The idea that each animal brings with it it’s own magic ability is a good one, altho I’m not sure why people who have been found guilty of murder have been rewarded with a magic gift.
Things I didn’t: So many loose ends! How did she end up killing her brother in the first place? What exactly is the undertow? I didn’t feel like the death of the old lady really tied in with the rest of the book, some bits felt forced or jammed in to make the rest of it work.
Favourite character: Definitely the sloth. Most of the people in this book were bad to the core.
Other books to try: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness.
Rating: 3 out of 5