Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a particularly smooth genre-meshing urban fantasy noir SF horror, and if you don't like my description, then go read it and figure out your best fit. :) If you do, however, find that perfect descriptor, be sure to add all the little animas, the familiars that bad people get after murdering someone, and if you let your anima die, you get dragged to hell. Or is the novel firmly set in modern day Johannesburg filled with scams, missing persons, and mystery? Oh, wait, how about all the mutilations and the sense of upwelling horror? No? Then why the hell do I get this sense that things have just gone near-future high-tech?
Well that's because the book refuses to sit still and be neatly defined. Isn't that wonderful?
Our main character is a real spitfire, that's for certain, and I love reading about good scams as much as anyone, but that's just her favorite hobby and way to make money. For everything else and when times get rough, she falls back on a bit of the missing persons racket, and she really knows how to talk a good game. She's an excellent social hacker.
As for the Urban Fantasy angle, I'll tell you this: it's interesting and odd and magical and it works perhaps a bit too strangely for me. I like a bit of well-defined rules, if only to see those rules get broken or find a way to slip the leash of hell, you know? But, alas, it isn't that kind of story.
It is, fundamentally, full of elemental horror, which is great because I love horror and I think Ms. Beukes does it extremely well. This is the third novel that I've read of hers and all of them are quite a bit different in style, subjects, characters, and plots, save for the interesting parallels of con-games and horror. But rest assured, all the horror sequences are very, very different from one another, so you will all have a nice treat in store for you for each novel. :)
I'm very impressed, in general, but I have to admit that I like this one the least between it and Broken Monsters or Moxyland. Suffice to say, I've grown to be a very steadfast fanboy of the author and I'm going to be snatching up each of her novels as I can find them, with much pleasure.
Thanks goes to Netgalley and the publisher!
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