This was the 9th book review I did for the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge 2011, it initially appeared on my wordpress blog in 2011.
This review is of Zoo City by Lauren Beukes.
Zinzi lives in Joburg and is a member of a caste that wears its sins on its sleeves, in the form of animals which are psychically tethered to their bearers. Zinzi becomes the suspect in a murder investigation and has to use her special talent, finding things, to try and dig her way out of trouble.
I like the fact that Zoo City is set in my back yard, one of the locations in the novel is just down the road from my house. I grew up in this city and know it well, so it is very cool to read a story set in an area I am so familiar with. It takes a lot of the guess work out of imagining the environment.
The book is well written and the characters are well portrayed.
I know that this book has received a lot of critical praise, so I am going against the grain when I say I just didn’t like it all that much.
I found the idea of the animal familiars to be a little too similar to the daemons in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Except now it’s not children who have daemons, it’s the criminals. It’s a small thing but it bothered me.
The Bottom Line
While the start of the book was reasonably enjoyable, the last third lost it’s momentum. I didn’t care enough about the protagonist to want to keep reading, and she was rushing about from one encounter to the next without it actually meaning anything for me.
And that made it hard for me to finish the book. I just didn’t care what happened next.