Monday, January 28, 2013

My take on: The Dragon Keeper

I haven't owned an animal since I was 6 or 7 years old, I'm 30 now. And.....I haven't been to a zoo in about three or four years. Why does this matter? Because the latest book I read, The Dragon Keeper by Mindy Mejia, is all about a woman's attachment to an animal. Since I'm not around animals everyday, I personally don't understand the attachment people have to animals. But I was thoroughly engrossed in this character's determination to protect a Komodo dragon. Google these things, a Komodo dragon looks dangerous, but I came to feel sorry for one after reading this book.

Zookeeper Meg Yancey is a bit of a loner. She and her boyfriend Ben seem more like angry roommates than romantic partners. He spends his time absorbing every news story on the TV and writing down his observations in dozens of notebooks. What free time Meg has is spent obsessing about her charge Jata, a Komodo dragon she has taken care of for five years. At work, Meg has to put up with endless bureaucracy. She would rather devote all of her time taking care of Jata, than pleasing her bosses doing zoo tours and talking to the media. Socializing with Gemma, her only friend at work, seems more like a chore for Meg. The only time she can have a deep conversation or thought is with Jata. That just seems weird to me. Is it really worth it to have a deeper connection with an animal than an actual person? The animal can't talk back to you or help with your problems. Meg seemed to be in a bubble. When anyone tries to pop that bubble, Meg just doesn't know how to react. Or it seems like she overreacts. If all of your deep connections are with an animal, how will you know how to deal with humans?

When Jata produces eggs and they subsequently hatch, Meg is fiercely protective of them all. Jata hasn't been exposed to a male Komodo dragon, so how did this occur? Is it a virgin birth? That's the working theory. Scientists inside and outside the zoo want a piece of Jata. The zoo's veterinarian, Antonio, wants a piece of the pie, too. At times, Meg can't stand Antonio, but there is definitely some sexual chemistry there. I think everyone can guess where that relationship ends up. She doesn't quite understand her feelings toward Ben, which makes it hard for her to feel guilty about cheating on him with Antonio. There is no definition for her relationship with Ben. But maybe there's something there with Antonio.

Jata forces Meg finally to deal with her relationships with people, instead of running from them. The press wants answers about Jata. Antonio and Ben want to know where they stand with Meg. And Meg wants to know where she stands with Jata. It seems like Meg and Jata have a connection. When something is wrong with the other they can sense it. Jata seems more like Meg's child than an animal in the zoo. Meg is truly hurt when Jata is hurt. Meg is truly hurt when Jata forces her to make a tough choice. What is that choice? You will just have to read the book to know what I'm talking about. But that choice made me feel sorry for Meg and Jata. She's just an animal, but Meg is Jata's only advocate. Meg cares more about her. Meg doesn't want to get rich off cutting Jata into little pieces. The prospect of losing Jata means Meg will have to find something else to fulfill her. By the end she seems to have found it. If you're an animal lover, this book is right up your alley.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

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