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State Of Wonder: A Novel [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

Ann Patchett
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 7 2011

“Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett’s fiction.”—New York Times Book Review

Award-winning, New York Times 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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Review

“An engaging, consummately told tale.” (New York Times)

“Emotionally lucid. . . . Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle.” (The New Yorker)

“This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer.” (Washington Post)

“The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously.… The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won’t end.” (NPR)

“Outlandishly entertaining…[with] a brilliantly constructed plot.” (Elle)

“Packs a textbook’s worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story. . . . Ms. Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation.” (Wall Street Journal)

“The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane—from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman’s hair.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)

“A spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett. . . . Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett’s breakthrough Bel Canto.” (Kirkus Reviews (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. . . . Powerful and captivating.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“A thrilling new novel. . . . The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid. . . . Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot.” (No Source)

“A thrilling new novel. . . . The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid. . . . Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot.” (MORE Magazine)

“Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page…This is Patchett’s best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto” (Shelf Awareness)

“Extraordinary. . . . Is there nothing the prodigiously talented Ann Patchett can’t do? . . . Patchett’s last knockout pages proceed full-speed ahead, with more twists and turns and trachery than the Amazon River. Nothing is as it seems, and the ending is as shocking as it’s satisfying.” (Boston Globe)

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.” (Booklist )

“Patchett 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. [An] expansive page-turner…Patchett’s fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure…that readers will hate to see end.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review) )

“[A] spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett[.][...] Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett’s breakthrough Bel Canto (2001).” (Kirkus Reviews (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.” (Library Journal (starred review) ) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wondeful Read July 10 2011
Format:Hardcover
I didn't know anything about this novel before I bought it and was not familiar with Ann Patchett.

Set in the Amazon, Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, finds herself on a remarkable quest. She is looking for Dr. Annick Swenson, who has been working in the Amazon on a valuable new drug for years. The company is unable to gauge her progress and so first sends Marina's colleague, Anders Eckman, to find Dr. Swenson. He dies under mysterious circumstances so Marina is sent to see what she can find out about Anders' death and Dr. Swenson's research.

From there the story takes many twists and turns. Marina gets sidetracked by a young Australian couple who is protecting Dr. Swenson, but eventually she does get to the research station in the jungle. Dr. Swenson, can be ruthless, but also strong and principled. While discovering a tree whose bark could lead to increased fertility in women, she stumbles upon another cure - one which she is protecting - even from the pharmaceutical company she works for because she fears they will not want to develop it.

I really felt like I was in the Amazon while reading this book. I loved all the characters, who are often drawn with great honesty and affection.

I thought the book was amazing and now I am going back and reading all of Patchett that I can get my hands on. I'm 70 pages into Bel Canto and loving it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite work for me March 29 2013
By Carol Read TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ann Patchett is a gifted writer who's always interesting (for me) to read. Here her descriptions of American scientists and the Amazon jungle are wonderful. This book doesn't quite work, IMO. There are long draggy parts and I found myself skipping pages. Patchett's plot has a Heart of Darkness quality to it, though here it's more Heart of Primal Innocence Meets Self-Deluded North Americans. I finished reading this only because it was a book club requirement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Amazon May 13 2012
By Novel Girl TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I just finished this book and I really enjoyed it.
From start to finish the reader is emersed in the Amazon. This book is so vividly well written you feel like you are there with the characters every time you pick it up. You feel the bugs, the heat, and moisture of all the foilage that make up the forest. You "are" gently floating in a boat with your hand dipping in the water as you look around you at all things beautiful and unknown in a state of wonder.
The pharmaceutical company plot is very intriguing, and hooks you right from the start as you follow the characters from the city to the amazon.
Also weaved around and inside this main story; Ann Patchett flawlessly writes about her characters loves & loss, emotions and mistakes; and the lives lived in between. This is a beautifully written book that leaves you thinking for a while after. This is one of Ann Patchetts Best!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her best yet! May 5 2012
Format:Paperback
Although I really enjoyed Bel Canto, this book definitely tops that one. I was drawn in right from the start, and now that I am finished it, I miss the characters, and find myself wondering how they adjusted to life in the real world after their return from the Amazon. I felt like I was living in Marina's skin and experienced life in the Amazon without actually having to suffer its discomforts. I thought the characters were well developed and I could practically see them. It was excellent storytelling in my opinion, and would recommend it highly, especially for those with a scientific/medical bend. Looking forward to her next novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Annuska
Format:Paperback
This book makes reference to Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." According to Joseph Conrad, there are three levels of darkness: [1] the darkness of Congo Wilderness [2] the darkness of the Belgiums' cruel treatment of the African natives [3] the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil.

I would recommend that the reader think about how the above three points relate to the book "State of Wonder."

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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was a good book. It was fun to read. The words, sentences and paragraphs were well-constructed. The whole book seemed to flow like an Amazon river that at times I would lose track of the plot. I enjoyed the sense of adventure in the story and I enjoyed Marina's character. I don't think she was overly ambitious, nor do I think she had a purpose in her life. Like the early years of Buster Keaton, I believe Marina's character embraced life rather then trying to control it. I believe the book to be mostly about Marina's character however there is no doubt that Ann Patchett did touch on some very modern 2011 issues.

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars State of Wonder July 28 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I saw this book and heard the author interviewed on CBC it sounded intriguing but I didn't immediately realize she was also the author of 'Bel Canto'. Once I did, it was the reason I purchased 'State of Wonder'. However, this book proved a great disappointment.
Although the descriptions of the Amazon river, indigenous people and jungle were interesting, and Patchett is a skillful craftswoman, even though I read this book only a week ago, I've already forgetten the name of the protagonist. Unlike the characters in 'Bel Canto', those populating S of W, were in no way compelling- perhaps it was the portrayal of them as having 'clinically scientific personalities'(read bloodless) which I found off-putting- the love affair, could it be called that, with her boss; her search for her collegue which ended in a sexual encounter that given his background story seemed to me implausible and almost an afterthought and the brief and mild guilt at returning her young guide to his 'tribe' in a trade made me think this woman was as emotionless as the snake she described in great detail....and the Uber-scientist whose only comment after a caesarian was 'remember to save the specimen'.....chilling. On CBC Patchett spoke about her protagonist as someone shy and reserved and in no way adventurous and as if the book explored her transition beyond that but that just didn't happen in the reading, which I felt was a real error in character development - I you got no sense that her experiences in the jungle changed her in any way and that she'd go back to exactly the same life and relationships in spite of what had happened. How dismal!
However, after such widely divergent feelings over the two Ann Patchett novels I have read, I suppose now to be fair I'll have to read another to see whether she is someone I want to continue to read - as I devour the writings of Joyce Carol Oates and Sebastian Barry!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Draaggyy and got bored!
Had a very hard time reading this book, just blah and very draggy and very dark and not sunshiny like it was suppossed to be when they went to the beach. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Rhonda
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and plodding
After reading Bell Canto, which I admit took a bit of time for me to get into, but then I loved it, I found State of Wonder to be a great letdown. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Greer Jansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! I loved it!
It felt as if I was really there experiencing it all; in Venezuela, in the jungle, part of the list of characters, learning how to live in the jungle. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Susan Taylor
2.0 out of 5 stars Book Review
This is a review from someone who isn't an avid reader.
Not enough to keep me attached to the novel, near the middle of the book, felt like it was a chore to read because I... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Samer
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so sure about this one.
After reading Bel Canto, which is a truly sublime piece of writing by author Ann Patchett, I thought I would give State of Wonder a whirl. Read more
Published 7 months ago by AMR
2.0 out of 5 stars waited and waited
I read this. I waited for the story to pick up and get going. It didn't, however it did resinate something....
Published 13 months ago by B. Arthurs-jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Much of a Wonder
If you already have an unfavorable view of pharmaceutical companies this book will do nothing to assuage that view. Read more
Published on May 28 2012 by little lady blue
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good
My mum recommended this book to me after she'd read it as I work in Fertility. I, however, found it very boring, slow and pointless. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Read more
Published on May 12 2012 by louise mcneill
4.0 out of 5 stars Still wondering
State Of Wonder
This is definitely an interesting book. The title fits the story. This could be a real story and keeps you imagination going. Read more
Published on April 15 2012 by Glitterp
5.0 out of 5 stars State of Wonder
This marks the third time that I have dipped into the writing pool of Ann Patchett and let me tell you, she does not disappoint!
Dr. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2012 by Arah-Lynda Hay
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