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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Book Review
Imagine a world where, after committing a crime, you end up with a familiar animal. You or those you know will not be far away, making it seem to everyone that you have done something very bad: now you are a Zoo, or “animal” or a dozen other names – you can be considered a witch, and stigmatized, even if your sin was not so great (none the law that sin causes to be “animal”). Zinzi December, a former journalist and ex-prostitute, spent a long time in prison for murder, became lazy as a regular partner, and is now trying to pay off the debt he caused by his drug addiction. He does this by finding things that are missing (with a magical gift he got when the ambassador became his friend), by cheating in Nigeria on a person who is in a lot of debt, and then he solves the case of a missing child singer. , a new South African singer.
Now, he doesn’t usually do things for the needy, because his gift works, but the money is good (even though his boss and friends, the two zoos, are disgusting), and he wants to pay back his debt. So he accepts the charge, and his journey to the darkness of Johannesburg begins. He will have the help of his laziness and his girlfriend (a zoo with a mongoose), he will connect with his friends – some will help him, others will cause more problems than help – but in the end it will be him. and his laziness trying to live in a world that sees them as trash.
In the world of Zoo City, if you commit a crime, or if you sin (and who doesn’t?), you may find yourself with an animal companion. Your age, race, color, religion, culture has nothing to do with this. The animal you receive has no information about the nature of your sin/crime. A criminal can take a penguin, a nine-year-old can take a cobra, a petty thief can take a tiger. “Animals” were studied by scientists, but no one could find the law.
In some countries, “animals” end up in jail (even if they’re innocent, or if their crime isn’t something you can be arrested for) or are killed randomly. In some areas, they can walk the streets freely, but they are discriminated against in other ways, they are always assumed to have something, they cannot rent in certain parts of the town, or get rooms in hotels and so on. the fear of “animals” means that everyone can be one of them at some point, because who is not without sin?
The country of Zoo City is the most interesting part of the book. The characters are interesting and believable (it was refreshing for me to read about an African female protagonist), the plot is good, the writing is flawless, but it’s the world of “animals” that caught my attention. The way to build a world in Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City it’s closer to science fiction than to urban fantasy: that is, a new thing is introduced (“Zoos”), and then the effects of that one thing on society and on other examples of that society (an old man), an immigrant from another country, a music producer, poor children near the sewers, a famous musician, a terrorist and so on) are explored, and explored in detail, without filling the main story with it. What added to my enjoyment in this book was the connection between the “animals” and their companions – although humans and their animal companions know little about each other’s thoughts, intentions, feelings, even through this awareness they can communicate. they need each other, there are no talking animals, the world is not like Aesop’s Fables or Narnia.
Zoo City is an urban fantasy thriller with science fiction and fantasy elements that tells the story of the future of Johannesburg where zoos – people who have found their animal companion after sin – try to survive in a world without love, seen through the eyes of a powerful, famous well the wrong woman. It’s an engaging, thought-provoking and funny novel, and a great read for those who love urban fantasy, science fiction, noir or a good, well-written novel.
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