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Publisher's Summary

Zinzi December has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit, and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job: missing persons.

©2011 Lauren Beukes (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    29
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    39
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    41
  • 4 Stars
    32
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    14
  • 2 Stars
    3
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    9

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    31
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    29
  • 2 Stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • Whittier, CA
  • 03-08-12

Urban Fantasy That Does Flinch

Fans of China Mieville and William Gibson take note: Lauren Buekes??? ???Zoo City??? is every bit gritty noir as it is urban fantasy, and it shoots along like bullets through a warm night sky.

Which means, this story is not a story for the faint of heart. It culminates in one of the roughest blood baths I???ve ever listened to. The worldbuilding is everything you???d want it to be --particularly the ghettoization of the Zoos -- and Beukes turns a phrase better than most and writes broken characters with heart. Her Zinzi is an antihero who despite all her flaws and failings, somehow manages to make us care about her. That said, the ending fell a bit short for me ??? not so much a payoff of counterfeit bills, but more like a stage magician who closes out her stunning show with a rabbit trick. It???s not bad, and there's resolution, but it left me wishing for something different.

I can???t comment too much on the authenticity of Justine Eyre???s accent, but she did an impressive job reading this one ??? from differentiating between the characters, the internal dialogue of Zinzi, and all-in-all carrying this story.

If you ever wondered what might have happened if James Ellroy was raised in Johannesburg by a witch who moonlighted writing 419 scam emails on the side, this is your ticket. All in all, well worth the listen, and I???m eager to see where Beukes takes us next.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Appalling narration spoiled a so-so book

Zoo City floats your boat or it doesn't. The essential idea of emotional baggage being carried around in the form of an animal as well as conveying a special sensitivity or power to the damaged person is interesting. The characterisation is light. The descriptions of South Africa are perhaps less remarkabe if you live in Johannesburg - as I do. Personally I found the end too neat and convenient and the final redemption unconvincingly complete.

I had a much bigger problem with the narration. It was shocking! The accents were inconsistent and poor. Like listening to an Austrailian actor doing half a dozen accents he has heard for an hour each, all you hear is ham Austrailian. Nobody speaks like that. As a consequence of having a non South African reader, words were seriously mispronounced - in three languages! Slang words especially lose their impact and emotion when said incorrectly. There were five or six moments when I almost stopped listening to this audiobook because listening to it being read so badly detracted from the writing.

If this is your genre and you are intersted in Zoo City, I recommend reading it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Every bit as good as it's billed.

With a cover blurb from William Gibson ("Very, *very*good!") and an Arthur C. Clarke Award, a World Fantasy Award nomination, and other glowing recommendations behind it (Jeff VanderMeer's review in the NY Times for example) I had very high expectations for Beukes's second novel. It's every bit as "phantasmagorical" and wonderful as billed, with a delicious noir-ish plot set atop a sea of bizarre characters in a transfigured modern world. In Zinzi December's Joburg lies the slum of "Zoo City", populated by the Animaled, people whose dark deeds have saddled them with faimilars -- in Zinzi's case, a sloth. Building up from a brief stage setting (Zinzi the drug-debted 419-scammer, Benoit her mongoosed boyfriend, some missing items, some not-so-missing but quite dead persons) and dropping Zinzi into a missing persons case of her own, tracking down the female half of a twin boy-girl Afro-pop duo for the duo's megalomaniacal producer. There's African tribal magic; there's gunplay; there's a brilliant imagination at work behind it all. It's beyond a doubt worth the (very low) price and (fairly short) time investment and I highly recommend it. There are a few narration quirks here and there -- Justine Eyre does a better job than many who have attempted mainline narration in their non-native accents, but from time to time some phrases slip ever so slightly out of accent. Still, all in all, a wonderful audiobook.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, doesn't work well as audiobook.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a traditional crime mystery, but placed in a unique setting, in a world of unusual magic where people carry their guilt from past bad acts around as animal familiars (slightly reminiscent of Golden Compass.) it's a gritty story with a very flawed heroine. The prose is marvelous.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I started listening to this as an audiobook, and soon decided to read the e-book version instead. Part of the problem is there are sections of the book that are format sensitive, such as e-mails, instant messaging chats, scientific reports and other inserts. These just don't read very well, and that's not the fault of the narrator but just a mismatch of the material to the audiobook media.

The pros also has a lot of unfamiliar terms, slang, and names of people, places and things not familiar to American audiences. combined with the thick accents the narrator uses to add characterization, this often made the text harder to understand.

I was just much happier using the text version.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • George
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 01-05-12

Worst South African Accent Ever

Any additional comments?

I was a bit underwhelmed by Zoo City. I thought the general Sci-fi concept could have been explored in some other context than a loose detective story. There are moments of really fresh brilliance here but overall I thought it was rather plain. Could it be that as a South African living in Johannesburg the imagery Lauren evokes is too mundane for me?

Following on that point, the narration was offensive to the point of distraction. Could it really have been that difficult to find a legitemate South African narrator. Really, there's way too much slang and African language to

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

I could not even get past the first 3 chapters.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I am honestly not sure who would really be able to follow the reader in this book. This book honestly taught me the value of samples, they are there, so use them!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Maybe...no.

I searched out this book because it topped a few lists for some of the best fiction in 2011. I think the performance ruined it for me. The narrator actually made me angry! Badly rendered accent that simply detracts.

Sad thing is? I can't remember a thing about the writing...

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

First Lauren Beukes book- will definitely read more

Originality is a rare thing in any genre, but Zoo City offers up a host ofnfresh concepts. And Justine Eyre does a marvelous job. Definitely worth the credit.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fun urban thriller with a fantasy twist

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, a fun urban thriller set in South Africa with a fantasy twist. However, the accents are off.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Anti-hero protagonist, Zinzi December and her sloth.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The South African (Zulu, Xhosa, English, Dutch, Indian) accents are so distinct. As someone who lived there for a couple of years the narrator sounded just off to me and it was a missed opportunity to portray character through these slightly varied distinctive South African accents.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No.

Any additional comments?

This has a fun fantasy premise (criminals hang out with their animal avatars (Zinzi's is a sloth) -- a skewed take on Philip Pullman's daemons).

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Unique story idea. Disliked the narration strongly

It irks me that a book that is clearly meant to be read with some South African quirks is not being read by a South African narrator. Then if you get over that and the poor accent, it irked me even more is that the narrator couldn't pronounce basic South African slang correctly. Don't they do research for that kind of thing?

The book is unusual. It's an interesting story and I think I liked it but the narration ruined it for me. Rather get the book for this one.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Philll Heimann
  • 08-22-16

Make it stop!

Oh my giddy aunt, who in their infinite wisdom, chose the narrator for this fine novel. I have never wanted someone to shut up quite as much. I love Ms. Beukes' writing but the reader ruined this experience for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Just
  • 08-17-17

Very unique

What did you like best about this story?

Such an interesting concept, beautifully realised with excellent characters.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Too many good bits it is impossible to pick just one.

Any additional comments?

Excellently read, the performance adds extra brilliance.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • badger
  • 01-25-17

Neil Gaiman with sex, drugs and swearing.

Great world, very well written with believable characters. wasn't too keen on the author to begin with but she grew on me. Definitely worth a listen if you're a Neil Gaiman fan.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mrs
  • 04-22-14

Disappointing!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I had heard a lot of good things about this book. Awards had been numerous? But I was bored. The basic premise was promising, with the "daemons" representing sins but it was so wasted and descended into a very basic, though dull, thriller /detective story. i could understand if it was the first in a trilogy but I felt as if it didn't really go anywhere.

What will your next listen be?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Nope

Did Zoo City inspire you to do anything?

Find something better

Any additional comments?

I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone else. Look elsewhere before spending your precious credits.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful