Book review: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

I’m not a fan of science fiction writing at all, but I’ve watched the PR machine around this book and was a little curious. I obtained a digital copy via a Humble Bundle deal, and read it on my Kindle – and must be honest, I was hooked from the get-go. 

The fact that the book is set in Johannesburg, in areas that are known and familiar to me helps – I like to have a little bit of reality to hang fantasy on! The lead character, Zinzi December, is intriguing, and I suppose the fact that she’s a writer by trade (if you call a 419 scam correspondent a writer!) also helps.

The book moves quickly, the plot intrigues are fast paced, and the science fiction / fantasy elements are very well crafted. I’m not sure if it’s a genre thing, or whether it’s a polite borrowing from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, but the bond between humans and their animals is very well crafted and presented. 

The climax is fast paced and spectacularly brutal, and I’m happy to report that the book does not have a happy Hollywood ending. However, the closing pages do leave the door open for Zinzi December to return, and I will certainly read any sequel that may appear. 

I enjoyed the book so much that I’m no reading Beukes’ next book, The Shining Girls, and I will look out for her first one, Moxyland too. 

Book review: Bared to You, Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

These are crackers of books to launch the book reviews on this blog, but anyway… here goes.

So, we all know about the hysteria around the 50 Shades trilogy, right? I’ve read the first one, and found it very contrived to be racy, although I will admit to …er… certain side effects. But I had no desire to read the second or third books, although I have heard good things about …um… character development in those. I found Anastasia to be simpering and pathetic, although I did enjoy Christian quite a bit.

My husband suggested these two books to me – they’re in a similar vein, and I suspect that if 50 Shades hadn’t been out there, these are the books that would have enjoyed the kind of frenzy that those books saw.

The Crossfire books – as these are known – tell the tale of Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross – both damaged souls in New York, who can’t keep their eyes, hands, or any other body parts off each other. She’s independently wealthy at 24, wears fabulous clothes, works in advertising in New York, and lives with a bisexual male model (who is more damaged that she is). Gideon seems to own half of New York (at 28), and sets about owning her.

Cue lots of …er… bodice ripping, shall we say.

I was sceptical of these two books, thinking that they would be the same very tenuous, loose story woven around lots of sex, like 50 Shades of Grey. And yes, there is a lot – I repeat, a lot – of sex. But I found the characters much more appealing – particularly Eva – and I must confess to wishing that I too could be trapped in an elevator with Gideon Cross on my way to  work in the morning.

The second book is not quite as raunchy as the first, although it still has its fair share of censorable moments, and even goes as far as having somewhat of a crime thriller plot. There are still many completely implausible situations though, but if you suspend reality for a while, and just kick back and enjoy the books for what they are – raunchy, racy fun – then they’re a great holiday read.

PS These books really made me appreciate the value of a Kindle – I could read them perfectly anonymously in the company of my mother and mother -in-law…