Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Tuesday May 21, 2013 003 State of WonderHave you ever wanted to live in the Amazon?  No?  Me either.

But it’s sort of interesting to read about.  And talk about.  And that’s what
we did at book club this week.  Most of the group agreed that it was a book
that went right along and held interest right up to the end.  Right up to the
end, which caused some controversy among some readers.

Marina works at a pharmaceutical company which is interested in developing
new drugs.  One of their scientists goes to the Amazon and is working on a
fertility drug with some success.  Trouble is, it’s taking a long time, and she’s
kind of secretive about her work.  Another scientist is sent to the Amazon to
check up on her, and the news comes back that he has died in the jungle.
So, Marina is sent to see about the drug, and the death of her fellow scientist.

Good premise, eh?  There are plenty of twists in the plot afoot, and plenty
of snakes and poison toads hanging above . . ..  The descriptions of the jungle
and the weather and humidity are good.  At one point they are in a low
boat going down one of the many hidden side rivers and the boat goes
through some thick floating green lettuce.  “We are here,” Marina thought,
“and we were never here.”  as the lettuce fills back in as soon as they pass
through it.

Throw in some interesting characters and you have a pretty good read.
Now about that ending . . .I won’t tell!

The book for June is The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls.

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2 Responses to Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

  1. Alex says:

    I read this book last year when it was on the short list for the Orange and had pretty much the same reaction to it as I have to all Patchett’s work; I start out thinking it’s quite light weight and end up realising that in fact I am being asked to think about some pretty substantial ideas. In this instance it is, I think, those very final scenes that force you to question whether anyone involved with the research project can be seen as lacking culpability in respect of their manipulation of the indigenous people’s for their own ends. I thought it was a very fine, if disturbing, book.

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