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Zoo City - Book Review

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by Sarah Timms (subscribe)
Living Melbourne on a Budget
Published June 5th 2013
As I am hurled into current-day South Africa through the words of Lauren Beukes' book Zoo City, I am awed by the gritty realism. Soon, however, I learn that this story, far from being a fiction of the realistic sort, is actually a fantasy novel. The world is very similar to our own, but made different by one quite noticeable distinction: in the mid 1980s, certain people began to mysteriously acquire spirit animals. This concept is initially introduced with no explanation, just as it was introduced to the people living in this fictional universe with no explanation.

Yet while the spirit animals stand tall as a difference between the fictional universe, this is still very much the story of life as we live it. The writer, a South African herself, seems keen on presenting the spirit of life that pools up in the most unexpected and destitute of places, while at the same time describing those individuals that have given up on life, at least for the time being.

More details of the content of this story would certainly lead to the claim that I am presenting spoilers, so I'll move on to the style it is written in.

The story comes hard and fast at points, with moments of clarity coming at other times, just as in real life. The writing is broken between clear, story-driven chapters, and vignettes whose purpose is unclear at the time of reading, but that become clear as the plot thickens in the story-driven chapters.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and can only hope there will be a sequel. In the meantime, I cannot wait to acquire and read Lauren Beukes' other novels.
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