Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: State of Wonder

'State of Wonder'
Author: Ann Patchett


Format: Paperback
Published: Harper; May 2012
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction
Grade: C
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! 

18 comments:

  1. I thought the middle of this book really dragged. I also hated the ending. What the characters did didn't fit them at all.

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    1. Totally agree. Glad to see I am not alone!

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  2. Funny, this is how I feel about her other books. LOL. The reason why I haven't pick this one up yet.

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    1. Well then don't pick this one up would be my recommendation ;)

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  3. I need to start this one for book club soon so I'll be chatting you up when I'm done :)

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  4. I need to start this one for book club soon so I'll be chatting you up when I'm done :)

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  5. See...I totally agree. I think that's why my review is so brief, is that I was bored. And the ending did suck. And nothing happened. And it was hot. Blech.
    However, it did make for a good book discussion. Because fertility at 70 is just wrong.

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    1. Oh agreed 100% If I was 70 and having to raise a baby ... well just no thank you!

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  6. I think I'll pass on this one. I thought Run was pretty good, but like you, I wasn't too interested in the synopsis for this one.

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    1. I haven't read Run. Perhaps I should check that one out.

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  7. Quite a few people have mentioned it's slow, which was enough for me to give it a pass.

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    1. Glad to hear at least I'm not alone in my opinion ... which I often am!

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  8. Funny, what bored you fascinated me: the very slow pace of the book that does make you feel you can hardly move because of the heat and humidity. I also listened to Bel Canto by her and loved it to. here is my double review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/07/05/bell-canto-and-state-of-wonder/
    Maybe if you try as audiobook you would enjoy that one?

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    1. Good suggestion! I should check it out for sure!

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  9. I enjoyed Bel Canto but have no interest in this one.

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  10. I agree that the setting made me have second thoughts about ever wanting to go down to South America! I really felt like I was in South American while I was reading this book.

    Sorry this wasn't really your cup of tea, but thanks for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour!

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  11. I also thought the book was slow, but in this case it worked (my thoughts:http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=5355). I didn't mind an "all knowing" narrator as well, actually I never thought about it until you brought it up.

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