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The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets Book Review

(The Verge) – Winnie Parker is a single mom trying to live a simple life. Her mom is a famous Hollywood actress and her ex-husband is a famous TV game show host of the most popular game show in the country. But Winnie herself is nobody spectacular; and that’s just how she likes it.
While accustomed to the lifestyle of the rich and famous, Winnie is content providing for herself and living a simple life with her daughter, Lacey. All this changes when Winnie is kidnapped by a reptile enthusiast and held hostage in his tropical stylized home with a seven-foot long iguana named Cookie. The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets (Diana Wagman) takes us inside the mind of a kidnapper and almost makes us sympathize with him.
I came across the book in the New Fiction section at Barnes and Noble. The story sounded intriguing. It’s about a young woman who has ties to the celebrity lifestyle,who then gets kidnapped by a reptile enthusiast.

Diana Wagman’s novel is poised to engage the reader, but sadly comes up a bit short. Image taken from: derekhaines.ch

The first few chapters sounded promising, but after a while, I found myself waiting for the story to take off, which it never did. After fighting the urge to skip ahead to the exciting parts, I discovered they didn’t exist in the story. By the time I realized it, I had finished reading the book, still waiting for something to happen.
When I finished the book, I reread the back cover and realized this story had absolutely nothing to do with what it promised. There really was no humor of any sort within the story. The relationship between Winnie and her kidnapper, Oren, had no depth to it. It was also implied that this would be a story dealing with Stockholm syndrome.
Yet, Winnie constantly tried to run away every chance she had. Sure, she played along with the delusional reptile freak that kidnapped her, but that was simply to save her own life. The plot had no twists, the themes had no depth, and the characters lacked any development. I felt like I was straight up lied to.
The story is told from the perspective of four different characters: Winnie, Oren, Jonathan (Winnie’s ex husband), and Lacey (Winnie’s daughter). While seeing in the mind of the kidnapper from the start was an interesting way to better understand each character, it was made clear that Winnie was in no life-threatening danger. She gets struck and injured by her kidnapper often, but we know that he has no intention of truly harming her, which pretty much takes the whole “thrill” out of the story. However, understanding the true nature and reasoning behind the kidnapper made him a much more likable character. In fact, the reader will find they want Winnie to be stuck with him just to hear him out.
One of my problems reading this book was that I was looking too much into it. The title made it sound like there was a dual meaning as if also referring to Winnie as an “exotic pet”. However, the novel did not really go much into this theme and didn’t really focus on anything in particular. Even the iguana, Cookie, played a small role and he was supposed to be an essential character. As mentioned earlier, the plot dragged on and lacked any depth whatsoever. I also found the story just kind of stopped abruptly. The series of events that unfolded were clearly predictable from the start and once the resolution occurred, there was not much follow up with it as the story simply ended.
Aside from the actual writing style of the story, the editing of the book itself unsettled me. I don’t normally mind typos and editing issues, but for this book it really got to me. Throughout the book there were numerous issues with sentences and missing words that caused me to be pulled out of the story. I was greatly annoyed by these little mistakes because they were so frequent! This begs the question: If the editor’s of this book didn’t take it seriously enough to read it through, then why should I?
Diana Wagman, author of the novel, comes up with an excellent idea, but sadly, “The Verge’s” opinion puts it at just a bit sub-par. Image taken from: jentelarts.org