State of Wonder

Patchett, Ann

(Book - 2011)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
State of Wonder
Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician's Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past. Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations. In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.
Publisher: New York : Harper, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0062049801
Characteristics: 353 p. ;,24 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Popular Book Club by: Cleveland_Recommends Aug 26, 2011

Literary Book Club: December 7, 2011

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Jan 19, 2015
  • CPL_Laura rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

After Marina’s colleague dies in the Amazon jungle, her employer sends the research scientist there to complete the mission he could not: to locate and bring back her former mentor, who has gone missing while researching a controversial drug. The novel explores science, responsibility and ethics through richly drawn characters and with vivid storytelling. (It also features a cinematic battle between scientist and anaconda.)

Dec 11, 2014
  • DPLheather rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Beautiful literature and deep characterization. Good for those who like Kingsolver. But you'll never want to visit the Amazon after you read the episode with the anaconda....

Nov 28, 2014
  • kazareads rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Ann Patchett is a masterful writer. Engaging, mysterious, curious
beautiful story. The landscapes of Minnesota in winter and the oppressive jungle of the Amazon contrast vividly. Marina responds unexpectedly and even heroically as the story unfolds.

Oct 01, 2014
  • JCLMichelleJH rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This was an interesting book that reminded me in places of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The main character enters the jungle of Brazil to locate a colleague but ends up discovering much more. I thought it was suspenseful and engaging, though the end seemed rushed.

Jul 26, 2014
  • waterdogsplash rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Not too thrilling to me. Story was not very interesting and when I thought it was finally going to get good in the end, I was very disappointed. I'm off to my book club and wonder what my members will think.

NYPL Staff Pick
A pharmaceutical researcher travels into the Amazon jungle in search of a missing colleague, who has discovered native people with a possible new fertility secret.
- Selection Team

Mar 17, 2014
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A great story about a lab scientist who goes into the Amazon in search of information about her dead colleague. Lots to think about and plenty of suspense.

Nov 23, 2013
  • vansce rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I think this is my third by this author. I love the way she can spin a tale while not leaving any confusion in me. Her characters are always vivid. This one's not quite as good as Bel Canto (another of her titles ), few are, but it is well worth the time.

Oct 24, 2013
  • williamkricket rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Nothing but superlatives can be written about this book. All l can add is that if you are willing, your heart will be touched, crushed, perhaps broken, and very likely restored by the emotional alchemy the author practises on your soul in a book about the science of ambition, truth and love. You will also be entertained, distracted like a doctor’s shining light as she stabs a needle into your vein and you wake up panting as if from a dream not sure whether it's really over or if you are still lost on the Amazon struggling simply to breathe.

Aug 13, 2013
  • Pisinga rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Nature can not be fooled. Each age of a human being is specifically designed for specific things. Action in the first half of the book develops slow. But in the second part it is more vivid, very interesting: a lot of fascinating details and descriptions of the Amazons, whether things invented by the author or actually existing.

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Jan 22, 2013
  • CBearjkn rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

CBearjkn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Oct 10, 2012
  • MurielW rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

MurielW thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Mar 02, 2011
  • Michael Colford rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Patchett takes us from Boston to the deepest hidden realms of the Amazon in this layered, haunting tale of biomedical exploration and the search for ourselves. Outstanding writing is Patchett's hallmark in this intricately layered novel. Deep, complex strands of narrative all come together beautifully and characters, both main and incidental are fully explored and brought to life. This is a masterful work.


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