*Warning* If you are afraid of reptiles I’d recommend not reading this book. It will just make you dislike them more.
I picked up “The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets” because of the title. I had no idea it was about a relationship between a daughter, mother and the mother’s kidnapper who also just also happens to own a seven-foot long iguana named Cookie. Winnie is a single mom, working to support her distant teenage daughter, Lacy. When getting a ride from what she assumes is her rental car, she soon is tossed into a violent struggle for her life from her kidnapper, Oren. Winnie happens to be the daughter of a once famous actress as well as the ex-wife of a popular game show host. But Oren doesn’t seem to want money or connections. He just wants to talk to her, although their communication is highly lacking. The rest of the book flashes between Lacy’s day, unknowing her mom is kidnapped, Winnie’s view and Oren’s view. The chapters written from Oren’s view were the best because his way of thinking was so deranged.
There is quite a bit of violence in this book that made me queasy even though I’ve read worse things. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there is one bit that I was so uncomfortable reading I’m cringing right now just thinking of it. I blame Cookie, the iguana. It was all his fault. (At least, thats what Oren would think, as he never can bring himself to take responsibility for his actions) Although it was hard to read, the use of Oren’s quick physical temper was perfectly executed to help understand his character and motives.
Although being marketed as a game of “cat and mouse” it came across as more of a game of misunderstandings and general dramatic irony. Apparently I was suppose to be surprised with every plot twist, so I think that the dramatic irony might have been unintentional. It was pretty easy to figure out exactly what was going on way before the characters did. I just wanted to shake Winnie and yell “THATS NOT WHY HE KIDNAPPED YOU, STUPID! I KNOW WHAT HE WANTS JUST LET ME TELL YOU!” Clearly she didn’t listen since she wanders about in a daze through most of the book. I love black humor, twisted plots and dark thoughts, which this novel had, but I was unable to fully enjoy those qualities. I probably would have really liked it if I had been left in the dark like Winnie, otherwise its just a stressful mess. Especially the finale with the lizard. Seriously, ew. And I even like reptiles.