Thursday, February 9, 2012

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Zoo CityZoo City by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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.

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