State of Wonder: Book summary and reviews of State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

A Novel

by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2011
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures - even better than Patchett's breakthrough Bel Canto." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Patchett's fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure, a juggernaut of a trip to the crossroads of science, ethics, and commerce that readers will hate to see end." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Readers who enjoy exotic locales will especially be interested, but all will find this story powerful and captivating." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Catskee

It's a state of wonderful
I almost feel the creepiness of the jingle and the itch of an insect bite not to mention the feelings of the heroine as she adjusts to a new state of beng. Well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

Dorothy T.

It's a jungle out there!
Ann Patchett has a talent for putting her readers deep within the setting of her novels and also for using well-imagined characters to draw us into the story. Lost luggage and swarms of flying biting critters aside, I really enjoyed this.

Diane S.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
It takes a rare author to make you feel that you are in the Amazon jungle with the book characters. Interesting storyline about drug companies and research as well as a rogue scientist and missing, presumed dead researcher. Also all the descriptions of the jungle and the native people, their customs and native plants really added to the story. Enjoyed it though I thought the ending could have been a little stronger.

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Author Information

Ann Patchett Author Biography

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician's Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, and State of Wonder. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and, most recently, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays that examines the theme of commitment.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England's Orange Prize, PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ...

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