I enjoy many kinds of fiction – historical novels set during certain time periods, magical realism, boy-meets-girl romances. Sometimes I want my fiction to be mindless, and other times I find myself learning about a subject I otherwise would have known nothing about. In the case of Mindy Mejia’s novel The Dragon Keeper, that subject is Komodo dragons.
Like many people, Meg Yancy prefers animals to other people, but instead of raising showdogs like her mother, she spends her time with reptiles; specifically, Komodo dragons. When Meg discovers that Jata, a dragon who has never mated, has laid viable eggs, she finds herself protecting the dragon and her hatchlings from the media, a hotshot veterinarian and the zoo owners.
Meg’s childhood was spent following her mother across the country to dog shows, while her father traveled on business, always promising to take her with him but never following through. So it’s not surprising that as an adult, she’s living part-time with a guy who travels the fair circuit and is obsessed with the news, eschews her father’s attempts to visit him in Ireland, and has a passive-aggressive relationship with Antonio, the zoo head vet. Meg cares only about the reptiles she cares for at the Zoo of America, jeopardizing her job with her inability to handle the media.
The Dragon Keeper jumps around in time, with the hatching of the eggs as the central point in time. This plot device can be frustrating, and at times in this novel, it is. But it also keeps the reader engaged, with past events explaining why Meg is the way she is.
Meg lets her life fall apart around her as she struggles to protect Jata, keep her job, maintain her only friendship and deal with her attraction to Antonio. The Dragon Keeper is an excellent novel with real, imperfect characters, and I have added it to our 5 Star Reads.