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State of Wonder: A Novel by [Patchett, Ann]
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3.9 out of 5 stars 1,626 customer reviews

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Length: 401 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 1172 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Publication Date: June 7, 2011
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004G8QZSS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,072 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When one leading publication says to "expect miracles", a book has a lot to live up to. And indeed, in many areas, State of Wonder does meet its hype. Its vivid sense of place, for example, is truly magnificent. One can almost feel hear the buzzing and ravenous mosquitoes, feel the oppressive heat, recoil from the floating snake heads, and feel the power of the storms.

But at the end of the day, I was torn between one crucial question: is a book that is realistic also authentic? How do the two concepts merge...and how do they differ?

Ann Patchett, in State of Wonder, revisits the contemporary adventure story genre, with a provocative tale of an emotionally crippled doctor - Marina Singh - who embarks on an odyssey to the Amazon after learning that her pharma colleague Anders died there. His wife doesn't believe it...and her boss and love interest, Mr. Fox, entreats her to go there to find out what is going on.

He is, after all, invested in the outcome of the research that is going on there. Dr. Annick Swenson - formidable and inscrutable - has been there for years, reportedly working on a new drug that will have a massive effect on female fertility, with the prospect of making his company very rich. Dr. Swenson was Marina's former mentor and her associations with her are fearsome. As a result, the journey to the heart of darkness for Marina is also a plunge into her own emotional terrors.

The exploration of these terrors - along with the world of the Amazon and the Lakisha tribe - are masterfully done. But for me, in the end, the characters became sacrificed to the plot, pacing, and setting.

I did not believe in the relationship between Marina and her widowed older boss, Mr. Fox; neither seemed capable of sustaining it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am amazed by Ann Patchett's ability to write such riveting books about such a breadth of topics. Bel Canto (P.S.) is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, and I never thought she'd be able to match that. With this book, I think she has come close.

State of Wonder is the tale of an epic journey. After an employee of a pharmaceutical company dies in the Amazon, a fellow researcher is sent to find out exactly what happened to him. She is also tasked with clarifying on the company's behalf exactly how much progress has been made on the drug being studied there. The visual picture of the Amazon painted by Patchett is vivid and captivating and the characters are very well-defined and sharply rendered. The plot moves along at a nice pace, though admittedly it does slow a bit in the middle.

As for criticism, the science in the book is a little vague and seems slightly "off". However, the experiments are a sort of backdrop and not the main focus so it's not that big a deal. And Patchett does manage to cover an awful lot of political and ethical issues related to drug development and reproduction that are so nuanced as to appear to occur using sleight-of-hand.

Overall, another very strong book from Patchett and a definite recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't be the only reader completely astonished by the gushing reviews for this book. The lead character, Marina, is frustratingly, irritatingly passive. If you really examine her scenes she almost never makes full statements, while other people talk in long long passages at her. She does things because people tell her to, she has no spine until the last moments. She is haunted by nightmares that add nothing to the story. On top of all that, the natives (named, I learned on NPR, after Patchett's favorite breakfast cereal) are not humanized at all. We don't get to know any one of them -- not a one -- as a real human being. Basing them on a breakfast cereal is almost offensive. Lastly, the medical aspect of this is just absurd. Chewing on trees?! Really?? And if this wasn't enough, Patchett has added a further discovery besides life-long fertility, an anti-malarial component, that results from all the bark-chewing. How many miraculously implausible medical discoveries can one book take? The ending is bewildering, giving us no clue as to what to make of Marina by the end. Did Patchett mean this story to be comic? (She speaks often in interviews of thinking herself funny, although no one seems to get her humor.) A very frustrating read, perhaps more satisfying to critics than to a regular reader.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I try not to judge Patchett by Patchett and hold her to a higher standard but I dont think I am. I loved "Bel Canto" with its beautiful language, mesmerizing plot and lovely, wonderful characters. "Run" also pulled me in and touched me. I wanted the same from "State of Wonder" but it is a much, much lesser book. Marina, the protagonist, is weak, the plot full of holes and other characters are little more than stereotypes. This book has been done before, better. Dedicated, maverick doctor off in the back of beyond, spurning corporate medicine, has discoverd something extraordinary. Young relative/colleague/mercenary is sent in to effect a withdrawel but won over by the doc or the goal or the indigenous people. Then some tragedy happens and the game changes. Without giving more away--this is the story here. (I kept thinking of an old Sean Connery movie)
"State of Wonder" doesnt do even this old plot justice. The characters are flat, except for maybe Easter and Milton, and often stupid. The plot/premise full of holes-- A scientist sent into the Amazon, alone, after the previous one dies? No corporate investigation? No legal inquiry? No backup? The freaking phone? The trees? A tribe that wears sal-army clothes but no one can locate? A pharmco that sends money and pays bills with no progress reports? Didnt they think to gps her boat? Barbara Bovender's vision? Swenson's complete obliviousness to the effects of pregnancy on the body? Ander's inability to swipe a canoe and leave? Much maneuvering has to be done to make it even appear to hold together. I fought through it, thinking the next chapter would be 'the one' and never got there.
SPOILER--the end, as little sense as it made, really ticked me off. Patchett betrayed the one character, Easter, that I cared about at all and Marina was shown to be not just naive and easy to manipulate but shallow and stupid.
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