Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Set in an alternate version of near-future South Africa, Zinzi December is a former journalist with a criminal and drug-addicted background. It seems that in this reality, anyone who has done something illegal is “gifted” with an animal counterpart and some kind of supernatural ability. Which doesn’t sound like a bad deal! Until, that is, your animal meets an untimely demise and you feel their loss as some profound internal pain.
Zinzi’s animal is a Sloth, and her power allows her to see the threads linking a person with items that they have lost.
The main plot of the story centres around a missing girl, and the corrupt music industry executive that appears to be exploiting the brother-sister teen pop band for his own ends.
The book describes the stark difference between how the impoverished sections of the community and the conditions in which Zinzi finds herself living, compared to the former high-class journalistic life that she used to live. In addition, how the “animalled” are treated as the lowest of the low, a new race of people to suffer a new (and yet old) kind of prejudice.
This is a human story, set within and enhanced by some fantastical elements. I, personally, would have liked the supernatural side to be expanded on a lot more. I think this premise could continue into further stories of Zinzi and her Sloth.
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