TITLE: Zoo City
AUTHOR: Laren Beukes
Lauren Beukes is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. In this sort of fantasy, Kinzi December, recovering addict, is part of the underclass in South Africa, getting by by finding lost things for clients and running email scams for the lowlife she owes a lot of money. She's also living with the stigma of being animalled, a fascinating concept that that threads through the novel and gives it a lot of its specialness. In Kinzi's case, the animal she's been bonded with is a sloth, and I must admit, I grew quite fond of Sloth over the course of the book.
Kinzi's desperate financial situation leads her to take a missing person's case, and that's when things go from bad to worse. Tasked by a sleazy music mogul to find the missing teenaged girl half of a hot duo (the other half is her twin brother), Kinzi is drawn deeper and deeper into a weird conspiracy, complicated by the furry conscience she must carry around on her back. To say more would give too much away.
Beukes' prose brings this world to life and Kinzi is a strong, flawed protagonist with a lot of heart who sometimes is her own worst enemy. I'd love to read a sequel.