Joan Radoll, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Joan Radoll)
I loved the journey (literally and figuratively) that Ann Patchett took me on in this book. I find her books so compelling and this was no different. I loved that I was totally surprised at the ending!
State of Wonder is Ann Patchett's best book yet (yes, even better than Bel Canto). Brimming with mystery, philosophy, intrigue, ethical questions, the flora and fauna of the Amazon jungle, and absolutely beautiful prose, Patchett's new novel should be at the top of your reading list.
by Jill Owens
What if women could become pregnant into their 70s? What if a woman's fertility could be increased exponentially? What if the ever-encroaching biological clock disappeared? Ann Patchett takes us deep into the Amazon in search of answers to these questions in her latest novel.
The amazingly long fertility window in the female members of the Lakashi Amazonian tribe is the subject of study for a group of doctors. When head researcher Dr. Swenson, after a decade of study, refuses to come home, share her work, or even report back to her bosses, Dr. Eckman, is sent in after her. When Dr. Eckman turns up dead, Dr. Singh is sent in to bring back his body, but also to shake loose Dr. Swenson's research results. What follows is a terrific story of survival, curiosity, culture shock and acclimation, as Dr. Singh makes her way through the jungle and finally tracks down Dr. Swenson. A story thread involving a deaf-mute child, who has somehow defected from a rival tribe, is sweet and eventually astonishing.
Patchett has laser-like insight into her characters; they never feel anything less than real. With anacondas, a hailstorm of arrows, unsanitary surgery, big-business-pharmaceutical greed, ethnocentric interference, and a great story buoyed by wonderful characters, this is must read.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Patchett (Bel Canto) is a master storyteller who has an entertaining habit of dropping ordinary people into extraordinary and exotic circumstances to see what they're made of. In this expansive page-turner, Marina Singh, a big pharma researcher, is sent by her boss/lover to the deepest, darkest corner of the Amazon to investigate the death of her colleague, Anders Eckman, who had been dispatched to check on the progress of the incommunicado Dr. Annick Swenson, a rogue scientist on the cusp of developing a fertility drug that could rock the medical profession (and reap enormous profits). After arriving in Manaus, Marina travels into her own heart of darkness, finding Dr. Swenson's camp among the Lakashi, a gentle but enigmatic tribe whose women go on bearing children until the end of their lives. As Marina settles in, she goes native, losing everything she had held on to so dearly in her prescribed Midwestern life, shedding clothing, technology, old loves, and modern medicine in order to find herself. 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review A Day"
by Heller McAlpin, NPR,
"Ann Patchett, who held readers captive with Bel Canto, her 2001 novel about a famous opera singer and a group of international dignitaries taken hostage by Latin American terrorists, is back in form with her mesmerizing sixth novel, State of Wonder. Set in the Amazon rain forest, Patchett's new book is a dramatic, transportive adventure story that takes on issues of medical ethics, cultural respect, friendship, love and loyalty." (Read the entire NPR review)
"In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggles and sacrifice of dedicated scientists."
by Library Journal (starred review),
"[A] superbly rendered novel....Patchett's portrayal is as wonderful as it is frightening and foreign. Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn....[P]owerful and captivating."
by Kirkus Reviews (starred review),
"A pharmacologist travels into the Amazonian heart of darkness in this spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett....Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures — even better than Patchett's breakthrough Bel Canto."
by New York Times Book Review,
"Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction."
by Harper Collins,
Bestselling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest. Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels Bel Canto, Taft,Run, The Magician's Assistant, and The Patron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wonder — a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.
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