Skip to main content

Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


Dr. Marina Singh is upset to hear of the death of her colleague Anders Eckman in the Amazon rain forest. Anders had traveled there to check up on the progress of a drug in development by Dr. Annick Swenson. The big pharma company that they work for wanted to ensure that the research was on track but no answers were provided before Anders died. Now Marina is sent to Brazil to look into the progress herself, and gain a deeper understanding of Anders' death at the request of his wife.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is a unique story that gets at the way pharmaceutical companies research plant sources for new drugs. I enjoyed this different sort of storyline that takes the reader into the jungle and shows how Dr. Swenson and her researchers live with the indigenous people, trying not to interfere with their lifestyle too much, but obviously having some effect. The drug that they are researching was quite interesting and presented some moral and ethical issues, as I'm sure some drugs do. The novel provided lots of discussion points to cover during my book club meeting earlier this week.

Our group had two issues with this novel, though. First, there are just too many implausible things that happen in this story. I can't get into specifics without giving away the story, but even those who really enjoyed the book admitted that there were some things that were very difficult to believe. The other issue brought up by many was that the characters were all rather flat. The consensus was that the character of Easter, a deaf mute boy from an indigenous tribe, was the most appealing character. We also agreed that Dr. Swenson, while not a very likeable character, seemed true to character as a researcher who would want to spend decades in the jungle doing research.

I have mixed feelings about State of Wonder. On the one hand, I read it in two days and never felt like I wanted to put it down. It kept my attention and entertained me for several hours. On the other hand, when I really look back at the story, the issues that were brought up during book club are definitely problems I had as well. I do think that if you don't mind when an author goes a bit beyond the believable, this may be a good pick, because the story is quite unique and the mysterious aspects remained mysteries to me until they were revealed in the end. Just know that everything will not be tied up in a neat bow at the end. But I know there are plenty of readers who prefer that.

My Rating: 

State of Wonder discussion questions

This review was written based on a copy of State of Wonder that I borrowed from the library. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Comments

  1. I've been wanting to read this for ages. I loved Bel Canto. I appreciate the thorough review with pluses and minuses.

    Glad you mostly enjoyed it -

    Sue

    Book By Book

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Banned Books Week: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

This is the end of Banned Books Week and unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time to write about banned books this year. But I did want to include at least one post about it, so today I wanted to share one of the book series that it seems most people are surprised to find on the list: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park.

According to Wikipedia:
The Junie B. Jones series came in at #71 on the American Library Association's list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009. Reasons cited are poor social values taught by the books and Junie B. Jones not being considered a good role model due to her mouthiness and bad spelling/grammar. This is an interesting example of a banned book. Many times there are serious, controversial topics featured in books that are challenged. Things like homosexuality, drugs, vulgar language, etc. You can actually understand why people may not want their children to read those books, and why they may challenge their inclusion in school libra…

Book Review: No Story to Tell by KJ Steele

Victoria has been put down since the day she was born. First by her parents who were disappointed that she survived while her twin brother died. Then by her verbally abusive husband and his low-life friends. But soon an intriguing artist named Elliott arrives in town and starts encouraging Victoria to follow her dream of opening her own dance studio. She also begins to receive phone calls from a mysterious someone who gets her to open up about her past and face her true feelings.

In No Story to Tell, KJ Steele has captured the small-town atmosphere and brought these characters to life. From the victimized Victoria, to her drunk and obnoxious husband Bobby and his drunk and obnoxious friends, to all the side characters who you'd expect to encounter in a town like this ~ all are so realistic in both their actions and their voices. She has written a compelling story of an abused woman who thinks she is trapped in this loveless, miserable existence. But then she finds a spark of hope…

Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Title: I See You
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Genre: thriller
Published: February 21, 2017
Format: ebook (NetGalley)
Source: publisher
Buy on Amazon(affiliate link)


Have you ever felt like someone was watching you? You will after reading Clare Mackintosh's latest release I See You. Told from the perspectives of two women, one who appears to be targeted by a criminal and the other who is the police officer working the case, this psychological thriller will have you looking over your own shoulder by the end.

Zoe is a typical working mother who takes the Underground through London to her office every day. Like most commuters, she has a routine that she follows every day, leaving home at the same time, sitting in the same train car, taking the same route to work from the station. It's habit. But she starts to realize this may not be a good idea after seeing her own photo in an advertisement in the newspaper. Another woman who appears in the advertisement is murdered and Zoe starts to ge…