State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Author: Ann Patchett
Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Amazon / Search of Identity / Medical Thriller)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (5/8/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Liked a lot until the very end!
Did I finish?: I did, very quickly.
One-sentence summary: A doctor comes to terms with her nightmares, her fears, and her hopes when she's sent to the Amazon to fetch a colleague.
Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's very pretty and eye-catching, although I would have loved snakes or birds on the cover since they feature so hugely in the story.
I'm reminded of...: Sena Jeter Naslund
First line: The news of Anders Eckman's death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the stationery and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow -- a literary adventure novel that reads fast.
Why did I get this book?: I'd never ready any Patchett so far, and everyone seems to love her. I wanted to know why!
Review: I was, I'll admit, a bit dubious about this book. From the blurb, it sounded a bit like the Sean Connery film Medicine Man, which I'm fond of but also find a bit embarrassing. (Or, a lot embarrassing.) Shockingly, I've somehow managed to become a reading adult and missed out on Patchett, so I was eager to be on the blog tour for the paperback release of State of Wonder.
Even though I couldn't shake the specter of Medicine Man, this story quickly revealed itself to be meatier and more philosophical than that cheesy film. In fact, I was reminded of Heart of Darkness and Sena Jeter Naslund's Adam and Eve, novels that focus on stripping one down to the barest essence to see what makes us human. Dr. Marina Singh is forced to leave her home in Minnesota to chase down her company's elusive genius of a doctor, whose research in the heart of the Amazon might lead to a cure for infertility in women. One doctor has already died trying to fetch her, and Marina
This book has the kind of heroine I love to hate -- but still liked. Marina Singh makes some epically bad life choices -- the kind that made me shake the book in lieu of shaking her -- and yet, I cared for her and I appreciated why she did what she did (mostly). The other characters, secondary and tertiary, felt real as well, fleshed out and thoughtfully articulated in Patchett's clean prose. Dreams and nightmares feature largely in the plot, and normally I loathe long explorations/recounting of dreams, but Patchett kept it together. The dreamy interludes were well-written and moved the plot along and helped me to know the characters better.
I really loved this book until the last six pages. The end felt so abrupt and out of step with the thoughtfulness of the previous 340 pages that I was literally jarred out of the story. It changed my love to like -- it was so unsatisfying! Otherwise, I really loved this novel -- the writing was gorgeous and the story unfolded beautifully. Needless to say, I get the wild love for Patchett -- I'm eager to dig into her other books now.
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of State of Wonder to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 5/25.