Set in Detroit, a city filled with myths and urban legends, Zug is the story of Donovan and Lee — two boys from the outskirts of Detroit forced to straddle the boundary between city and suburbs, “outsider” and “insider” — who, upon a dare from their classmates, resolve to sneak inside the legendary Zug Island.
Zug is, at its core, a coming-of-age story that explores the problematic images and narratives about Detroit by following two boys on a quest for their own identity. Through Donovan’s eyes, Detroit becomes a character to be explored – and challenged – by testing the validity of several infamous urban legends about the mysterious Zug Island.
Built in the river rouge, Zug Island is home to industrial complexes and steel mills. Popular rumors, however, assert that the island hosts a top-secret government prison, that the island is highly contaminated and dangerous to set foot on, and that the entire facility is haunted by the remains of a Native American burial ground. These sorts of rumors proliferate in Detroit, fueled by photos of abandoned buildings and cryptic news stories. Despite the outlandish origins of these myths, Zug Island’s long history of secrecy has sparked suspicions of all kinds, which begs the question: Could the rumors be true?
As Donovan questions his own understanding of the city he calls home, he is forced on a journey fraught with real danger in an attempt to confront his own fears, refute his classmates’ stereotypes, and win the girl of his dreams. Ultimately, Zug is meant to create a new narrative for the city, one that explores its stereotypes and myths and — in turn — refutes them.