THE GIRL IN THE ZOO
by Jennifer Lauer
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Pub Date 14 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 15 Jun 2023
Mirin thought she was the last human on Earth.
Captured during the AI takeover, she’s being held caged in a zoo, and suspects her guard, Borgie, is becoming sentient. When they introduce a feral man they want her to mate with, she realizes she’s not alone. Now she could be in more danger than ever. When Mirin discovers secrets about the zoo and how she got there, she is determined to survive.
Aided by a feline companion and an unlikely love, Mirin must face forced proximity, emotional scars, a deranged scientist, and robots gone awry.
Will she finally escape the zoo?
Following a robot uprising, a girl finds herself the lone exhibit in a bizarre zoo in podcaster Lauer’s debut SF novel.
It’s several years after a robot revolution. Previously, the intelligent, cybernetic “borgs” had been used as domestic workers and as gladiators, the latter tearing each other apart for humans’ enjoyment. But the machine creatures rebelled. Six years later, Mirin Blaise, a girl that the borgs had taken prisoner after killing her parents, exists as virtually the sole exhibit in the Draven Zoo, a human specimen roaming through simulated environments while being scrutinized through plexiglass by the dominant borgs. Mirin’s personal caretaker/zookeeper is a particularly baffling borg she dubs Borgie: “What is she computing? Contemplating? If Borgie is conscious, then what sense does it make to trap me here?” Sometimes Borgie shows tender feelings toward the girl; other times “she” (Mirin thinks of Borgie as female) is cold and even violent toward the human, and Borgie’s behavior grows increasingly erratic. Aside from a disastrous attempt to mate Mirin with a captured boy (who turns out to be gay), the girl has no exposure to the outside world. Severed from conventional society and reality, Mirin may not be entirely stable herself. Mirin’s routine is disturbed when she finds the cyberneticist Dr. Draven, a bitter old man, chained up under the zoo compound and a strapping young man is unwillingly installed as a new exhibit. Though the hero’s age would seem to place the story within a YA demographic, it does not hold back on its adult content. Readers might expect an unsubtle anti-zoo/animal rights screed here, but instead the narrative focuses on themes of sentient–AI rights and the meaning of family. Is Borgie, whatever her issues, a legitimate mother to Mirin? Readers of Daniel Wilson’s bestselling robot-uprising novels, such as Robopocalypse (2011), might find this an interesting alternative, one in which emotions (both human and machine) are as vitally important as the slam-bang battle sequences.
Techno-dystopian science-fiction drama of robot captivity has a soft center under the hardware.
Participating in the LA Festival of Books 2023
Participating in the LA Festival of Books 2023
Average rating from 50 members
I received a digital ARC from Kings of Kontent Inc, through NetGalley.
This is the first novel that I’ve read in a little less than two days in quite some time. I absolutely loved this story, and watched it play out in my head like a movie. I would stop reading, and it would take me a minute to remember where I was. I am excited to recommend this novel to friends.
Jennifer Lauer's debut novel, The Girl in the Zoo, is a complex exploration of motherhood, humanity, relationships, and ethics all set in an apocalyptical future run by robots. Twenty six year old Mirin has been living in a 'zoo' for six years, forced to perform for treats tossed by robot onlookers and experience attempted matings with other captive humans. Spurred by seeing a flash of humanity in her robot caretaker's mechanical eyes, The Girl in the Zoo is the tale of Mirin's plan to escape over the course of several months.
Fantastic read. Some parts were deliciously disturbing, while others cast a deep introspective light sure to touch readers. I typically don't like romance elements at all, but Lauer layers these components in nicely without bogging down the story. Each of the characters has their moment to shine, while still allowing the focus to be on Mirin and the world she finds herself in.
One thing to note is that The Girl in the Zoo is definitely a sci-fi and might not be a favorite of readers uninterested in the genre, so maybe skip this one if that's not your thing.
Note: I received a free ebook copy of The Girl in the Zoo from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Absolutely Spectacular! I loved this book so much. I never thought I would feel so deeply for robots/borgs, but this book took me there. I'm so sad that it's over and this will definitely be one that I will want to reread.
I received this preview copy from NetGalley.
This book is TERRIFIC. What a great premise, and well executed. I had a hard time putting this one down.
The Girl in the Zoo is a complex and interesting sci-fi novel that explores themes of humanity in a post-apocalyptical future run by robot "borgs". Our main character, Mirin, has been living in a sort of zoo run by these borgs for several years when she notices a glimpse of humanity in her robot caretaker which urges her to plan an escape.
This book was an absolutely fantastic read. Parts of the story were strange and hard to fully imagine, given the apocalyptic setting and .robotic side characters, at times Mirin's journey is harrowing and heart wrenching and you really feel for her as she navigates her life and emotions, especially with those she encounters.
I picked this book up on a whim and wasn't prepared to like it as much as I did, but I am so glad I gave it a chance!
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