Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Audio Book Review: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

I had no idea where State of Wonder was headed. It's beautifully written and compelling, but the story was kind of unexpected.

I don't read blurbs, so I went in blind. I really enjoy that. I try to figure out where we're going, and it was really difficult in this book but not in a bad way. Someone recommended the book, and I needed an audiobook. State of Wonder was available at the library so I jumped. I'm so glad I did.

Marina Singh is a doctor working for a pharmaceutical company. When the story opens, she is given a letter informing her that a very good friend and colleague has died. He was sent to the Amazon jungle to check up on research being conducted by Dr. Swenson, who hasn't been heard of for quite some time. The cryptic letter is from Dr. Swenson and states that Dr. Anders Eckman died of a fever and was buried in the jungle.

Eckman's wife needs to know what happened. Mr. Fox, Marina's boss and secret lover, needs to know what Dr. Swenson is up to. So, he sends Marina to Manaus, Brazil, to investigate. Just finding Dr. Swenson proves to be a daunting task. Marina has her own issues too. You see, she was a student of Dr. Swenson. Marina was supposed to be a gynecologist, but something happened to change her career path, and she's not looking forward to seeing Dr. Swenson.

Life in the jungle is like living on another planet. I don't want to give too many details, because you must experience the language and descriptions for yourself. State of Wonder is a multi-layered story with character that practically jump into your lap, they are so vividly described. Even the secondary characters.

There are a lot of surprises, and like I said, I didn't see any of them coming. You just have to find out what is going to happen -- to all of the characters -- and you can't stop turning the pages (or in my case, you can't press "stop!")

I don't know what else to say. This is one of those books that I can't describe, and I can't even do it justice in a review. Suffice it to say that State of Wonder is special.

The narrator, Hope Davis, is excellent. I'm SURE her voice for Dr. Swenson is absolutely how Patchett heard it in her own head. I highly recommend this book and the audio version. I think selected mature teens will enjoy the story, but this one is most suitable for adults. I need to get my husband to read this so we can talk about it. If you've reviewed State of Wonder,  please leave me a link. I'd love to know what you thought.

Published by Harper, 2011 (audio by Harper Audio)
Audio book obtained from the library
368 pages

Rating: 5/5

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  1. I've been really wanting to read this, and my book club is thinking of doing it in the next few months. It sounds like I should get the audiobook! I have enjoyed Hope Davis in the movies I've seen her in, and I'm glad she did a good job with the narration. I love well drawn characters and surprises so I can't imagine not loving this book. Amazing review Annette!

  2. wow! Great stuff, and I am so glad to have discovered this author.

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