State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Title: State of Wonder
Author: Ann Patchett
Pages: 353
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: June 7, 2011 (hardcover); May 8, 2012 (paperback)

I was super excited to read this after reading such rave reviews when it came out last year. I think it made the best of 2011 list for almost everyone I know who read it. I have also enjoyed a few of Patchett's other books, especially Bel Canto, so I had high hopes for State of Wonder.

As soon as I finished reading this I texted my sister to tell her she, too, had to read it but that it would break her heart. Sometimes when I watch a scary movie (or one that scares me anyway) I have to remind myself that the characters are just actors; at one point in this book I had to remind myself that the characters were creations of the author's imagination, just to level the impact they had on me. As with Leaving Atlanta (by Tarayi Jones), there is one specific scene in this book that broke me and that I won't forget.

Before I go any further, here's what State of Wonder is about. Marina Singh is a pharmaceutical researcher working for a company in Minnesota, Vogel. For a couple years, Vogel has had a scientist, Dr. Swenson, doing research in the amazon to create a new drug that is sure to change lives all over the world. But they haven't heard anything from this scientist in two years. State of Wonder starts out with the notification that another scientist Vogel sent to the amazon to follow up on the progress of Dr. Swenson has died. Due to some of the circumstances, Marina is sent to follow up on not only Dr. Swenson's progress but to find out how her colleague, sent on a quick trip, died in the jungle.

What follows is a crazy trip to the amazon in which Marina deals with the intimidating and formidable Dr. Swenson, braves the jungle and its tribes and beasts, and comes face-to-face with questionable ethics of drug research in the amazon.

I haven't read a book of Patchett's in a while, so I guess I'd forgotten what her writing was like. Her writing was fabulous. And she also managed to create such real and interesting characters that I felt like this book just soaked me up in its pages. The research and ethical quandaries Marina stumbled upon were also thought provoking and added an interesting element to the storyline. In some ways this reminded me of Verghese's Cutting for Stone, (and both had main characters who were doctors). It was definitely an escape for me to travel to the Amazon, and State of Wonder is not without it's surprises! I loved this book and am glad I had the opportunity to read this! Makes me want to return to Patchett's back list to read what I have yet to read of hers.

Follow the rest of the tour!

Tuesday, May 8th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, May 9th: Take Me Away
Monday, May 14th: Proud Book Nerd
Tuesday, May 15th: Tiramisu Mom
Wednesday, May 16th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
Thursday, May 17th: Book Him Danno!
Friday, May 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, May 21st: The Adventures of an Intrepid Leader
Tuesday, May 22nd: Lit and Life
Wednesday, May 23rd: Shall Write
Thursday, May 24th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, May 28th: Stiletto Storytime
Wednesday, May 30th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, May 31st: Paperback Princess
Thursday, June 7th: Dolce Bellezza
Monday, June 11th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, June 12th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, June 13th: Man of La Book
Thursday, June 14th: missris
Friday, June 15th: My Bookshelf
Monday, June 18th: A Library of My Own
Tuesday, June 19th: The Scarlet Letter


Sandy Nawrot said...

I am probably the last person on earth who hasn't read Bel Canto, and I WILL read it someday! But I did love this book, especially on audio read by Hope Davis. It was engrossing and bizarre and it tickled my brain. I'm excited to see what people thought on this tour!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I loved Bel Canto but didn't love this book as much, except for some of the writing, which I too thought was beautiful. And it certainly is a memorable book!

Zibilee said...

I loved this one as well, and feel like I can echo Sandy's comments. It was an amazing read, and one that still has me thinking even months later. A very vibrant and strange book, but one that deserves the praise it's won. Amazing and enthusiastic review today!

Ti said...

Wow! I haven't been drawn to this one until I read your review. Your enthusiasm floors me! I think I put this one aside since I had just read Lost City of Z and it sounded kind of the same, except that one was non-fiction.

Audra said...

I so know what you mean about needing to remember the characters aren't real -- I very much had that feeling with this book (which is partially why I think I hated the ending so much!) -- great review -- this was my first Patchett and now I appreciate why the love for her!

Jenners said...

Everyone just raves about this book. I've not been the biggest Patchett fan (I've read maybe 3 of her books … with Bel Canto being my favorite) but I think I'm going to try this one. I'm thinking it might be a good audio depending on the narrator.

Tina~ said...

Brilliant review Jenny...:) Im so excited to read this for the tour!!! I love Ann's writing too. said...

Thanks for your great review, I loved it too very much, and read also Bel Canto. In fact I reviewed them together, here:

nomadreader said...

I'm so glad you loved this one too (and I loved the mention of Silver Sparrow!) I am still so in love with this novel. It inspired me to read all of Patchett's backlist, and I'm really enjoying it. I love the way she writes.

heathertlc said...

I love that you found these characters to be so real! I have to admit that I started this book but then lost my copy and never found it ... sounds like I need to bite the bullet and get myself a new copy so I can get the chance to really know these characters!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Amy said...

I love Patchett's writing style. It's been a while since I read a book by her, but I remember loving Bel Canto and how she wrote.
I'm still kicking myself for missing this book in the list of books to review I received. ugh! When I have the time, I'll pick up a copy. Your review ultimately convinced me that I want to read this book soon. Your enthusiasm is catching. Thank you!

bermudaonion said...

I liked this book but didn't love it. The middle dragged for me, but I could live with that. The ending just didn't click with me - I thought the action of the two characters just didn't fit them.

Jennifer said...

Great review, Jenny. Not sure if this book is for me, but your rave review has intrigued me. I may have to check it out despite my reservation.

Trish said...

I liked this one, too, but I wonder how it would have been if I read it rather than listened to it. The characters seemed really exaggerated on the audio version that sometimes it felt so over the top (not in a bad way--just really interesting). I really need to read Cutting for Stone!

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

I really need to read Bel Canto or this one...she sounds like such a phenomenal writer!

Man of la Book said...

I also liked the writing style of State of Wonder (my thoughts:, Ms. Patchett certainly have a way of building things slowly.

Post a Comment