How I Became A Dragon is a book with a good premise but it seems like the author was a bit too close to the subject matter. Suzanne Mondoux is an explorer, writer and environmental professional and she has penned a story that is supposed to be told from the perspective of an elephant that is slaughtered for its ivory. But instead the novella seems to be more about an idealistic conservationist named Heatha and is often an informative, non-fiction-like book detailing some corrupt practices by people and organisations in the Congo.
In Africa it seems that these beautiful animals are endangered and threatened by two different sources. There are the poverty-stricken natives that hunt endangered species because this is one of the few opportunities they have to put food on the table. The other threat is via highly organised, international cartels that steal the ivory for sale overseas. And often the organisations that are supposed to guard against these illegal practices are corrupt and supporting these very activities.
This novel was poorly characterised. The elephant that dies does not even feature that prominently and really doesn’t have a strong voice (this is in contrast to Quinn, The Rottweiler: A Story Of A Dog Dealing With Cancer where Maryly Turner did an excellent job of telling the tale from the dog’s perspective). How I Became A Dragon focuses too heavily on Heatha and includes too much commentary about IWF, TAWLE and MEAF and it is doubtful that an elephant would have such intimate knowledge of these things. In fact, the parts where the conservationist saves a mangabey monkey are actually the most engaging aspects of the entire book.
How I Became A Dragon should have been like a love letter to elephant conservation but instead it is a disjointed novella that isn’t sure whose story it wants to tell or whether it just wants to be an informative and educated look at corruption. This novella is clearly very well-researched but it isn’t properly realised. At the very least one hopes that it will make readers question the ivory trade in the view to stamp out such horrific practices in the future.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Goodreads giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27563840-how-i-became-a-dragon