BOOK REVIEWS

The Dragon Keeper: A novel by Mindy Mejia — book review

The Dragon Keeper tells a very specific type of story. This the third novel I’ve read by Mindy Mejia and it certainly has a unique premise. Mejia’s books differ in style and subject-manner, yet genre distinctions aside, each one of her story is underlined by a tense atmosphere. Most of The Dragon Keeper takes place in the zoo where Meg Yancy works. Meg is the keeper of her zoo’s Komodo dragon, Jata. Having never been close to her parents or her phlegmatic sort-of-boyfriend, Meg finds fulfilment in looking after Jata.51IxZjmAE2L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
When the zoo discovers that has produced viable eggs, without mating, Jata begins to receive attention from the media and the scientific world. It becomes clear that Meg, who is closed-off and often abrasive, isn’t versed in zoo politics. While Meg may be Jata’s keeper, she has little control over the Komodo dragon’s future.
Moving from the time before and after the hatching of Jata’s eggs, The Dragon Keeper depicts Meg’s relationship to Jata. Meg wants the best for Jata yet she finds herself bending rules and ignoring signs that point to Jata’s predatory nature. Meg’s entanglement with a veterinary, who also happens to been her sworn enemy, further clouds her judgment.
There are a lot of interesting discussions in this narrative: on parthenogenesis, on Komodo dragons, on animals who are raised in zoos, on the advantages and disadvantages of zoos, on the way media manipulates facts, on parenting and on abortion.
There is also a sense of unease pervading the story. Meg makes quite a few hasty or questionable decisions and readers are given the impression that her behaviour will get her in trouble.
While I do wish that some of the characters had been more fully fleshed out, I was pleasantly surprised by the way in which certain minor characters were portrayed.
Given the narrow scope of this story, I don’t think that it will appeal to a lot of readers. Still, it is an interesting examination of a woman whose loneliness is assuaged by an animal who is often regarded as a threat. Mejia succeeds in making us care for Jata, without romanticising her or ascribing unrealistic attributes to her.
Poignant moments aside, The Dragon Keeper left me wanting more.

My rating: ★★★✰✰ 3.25 stars

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BOOK REVIEWS

Everything You Want Me to Be : Book Review


Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

★★★✰✰ 3 stars

Last summer I read Mejia’s latest novel Leave No Trace: A Novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it had a suspenseful and fast-paced story with alluring main characters.
While Everything You Want Me to Be is an undoubtedly well-written novel that juggles different point of views and timelines, I mostly found it to be extremely dull. rather flat.

Each of the three narratives was well-rendered and I was always able to tell whose pov I was reading from. So, while I think Mejia is a skilled writer, I did find her story and the characters to be incredibly boring. As believable as they were, I found myself caring little for them. Their arcs were predictable so much so that it was easy to see what would next happen. This sort of plot has been so overdone that this novel might ‘work’ for those readers who aren’t all versed in this genre.
While Mejia succeeds in rendering the atmosphere of a small community, I mostly felt annoyed and unaffected by her characters or their struggles.
Hopefully the next novel I read by Mejia will showcase more of her talent.

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