State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins
Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist based in Minnesota, is shocked to find out that her colleague and friend, Anders Eckman, has died while in the Amazon. Anders was sent to the Amazon in the first place to track down Dr. Annick Swenson, a former professor of Marina’s, who is developing a new drug, funded by the pharmaceutical company that employs Marina. Because Anders died under mysterious circumstances, and no one has heard from Dr. Swenson in years, Marina is sent as a replacement for Anders in the hopes of finding out what progress Dr. Swenson has made. Once she gets there, however, what Marina finds is beyond any of her wildest dreams.
I’d been putting off reading State of Wonder for the longest time, as Bel Canto is one of my absolute favorite books [my review] and I was so nervous that Patchett’s newest couldn’t possibly live up to the expectations I have for her now. But I was having a lunch with the fabulous Heather who convinced me that I HAD to read State of Wonder. So I did. And she was totally right – this book is so, so good. I don’t know that I can say it’s better than Bel Canto, but I can at least say it’s a very close second. I loved it.
What makes Patchett such a brilliant author is the fact that she is a master at three aspects of novels – characters, writing, and plot. Most authors I love are great at one or even two of these things, but she is truly amazing at all three. The characters in State of Wonder – Marina, Dr. Swenson, and even the deceased Anders – became a part of my life as I was reading this book. I cannot explain clearly enough how real these people were to me as I was reading their story.
And the story – wow, what a story. So much happens in this novel that I’d rather not spoil, but suffice it to say that it is interesting with a capital I. You will not be bored while reading this book, I’ll give you that much. And Patchett’s writing is just so brilliant. She can evoke such emotions in me, I can’t even begin to share. Really. She is just so, so good.
I know I haven’t said anything about State of Wonder, really. It’s that situation where there’s so much to say but all I can think to say is – read it! Ann Patchett is a genius and I absolutely loved this book.