'State of Wonder'
Author: Ann Patchett
Published: Harper; May 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours
Synopsis: Marina Singh gave up a career as a doctor after botching an emergency delivery as an intern, opting instead for the more orderly world of research for a pharmaceutical company. When office colleague Anders Eckman, sent to the Amazon to check on the work of a field team, is reported dead, Marina is asked by her company's CEO to complete Anders' task and to locate his body. What Marina finds in the sweltering, insect-infested jungles of the Amazon shakes her to her core. For the team is headed by esteemed scientist Annick Swenson, the woman who oversaw Marina's residency and who is now intent on keeping the team';s progress on a miracle drug completely under wraps. Marina's jungle odyssey includes exotic encounters with cannibals and snakes, a knotty ethical dilemma about the basic tenets of scientific research, and joyous interactions with the exuberant people of the Lakashi tribe, who live on the compound. In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggle and sacrifice of dedicated scientists.
My Take: Ann Patchet's latest novel, The State of Wonder, has received a lot of attention and buzz over the last year. The least of which was that it was an Orange Prize for Fiction award nominee. I had read one of Patchett's novels in the past: The Magician's Assistant. While I really enjoyed it and thought it was really unusual, I didn't seek out any of Patchett's other works, although many of them were buzz-worthy. So when this novel hit the stands and everyone started talking about it, I'll admit I stood up and took notice. Although if I were to be honest, the synopsis didn't interest me all that much.
I love a good fiction novel with an interesting plot as much as the next gal but some sort of major pharmaceutical mystery in the Amazon isn't really the type of book that I read a lot of. However, I am a sucker for buzz so I dove right in. The story surrounds Marina (love that name, by the way!) whose coworker and friend dies while on a research mission in the Amazon. The story surrounding his death sounds a little shady to those closest to him so the pharmaceutical company they both work for sends Marina in to investigate.
A couple of things that were weird to me about the novel. The story is about Marina and her thoughts and feelings about everything, yet she is not the narrator. I don't know why but it bothered me. Also, perhaps some people felt this lent to the vibe of the story, but it moved so slow, almost as if you had an Amazonian fever yourself. It took forever for the action to get going. While I found the book to be very readable, not much happened for a lot of the book. It kinda bored me to be honest. Also, we were contemplating going to South America for our honeymoon. Now, after reading State of Wonder, I am kind of concerned I am going to die of some malarial fever!
Now, as always, take my, admittedly disjointed review for what it is. A person who didn't really enjoy a book but doesn't want to be too harsh about it and read some of the many positive reviews out there and make up your own mind so you can join the conversation too on this buzz-worthy book!
For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!
Cover Lust: I do enjoy this cover. I looks very lush!