Dec 9, 2012

Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

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I bought Ann Patchett's novel,  State of Wonder, yesterday and finished it today. It was that good that I didn't put it down till I had read it all. I liked the exotic setting and fell for the story of one scientist trying to discover the details and reason for the death of another in the jungles of the Amazon.

A pharmacologist Marina Singh is sent by her company in Minnesota to Brazil to find a reclusive scientist and researcher, Annick Swenson, her former medical school professor who is doing drug research deep in the Amazon jungles. Marina is supposed to report on the progress of Annick's research on fertility for the drug company, research that has already taken many years and a lot of funding. Marina is also on a more personal mission, to discover the facts behind the death of another employee of the drug company who had recently traveled to the Amazon to check on Annick.

It seems to me that the novel has some serious questions about the value of some research done by drug companies - questionable drugs that may not be needed or advisable, for a limited group of people, versus drugs for more serious and immediate health problems for a larger demographic. There is also a contrast between cold, hard research and the human considerations that must be taken into account when you deal with the lives of real people.

The plot and setting are very imaginative, the characters memorable, and the questions the novel addresses are good food for thought. I loved Bel Canto, Pachett's award-winning novel, and I liked this one as well.

The book is also reviewed by Tales from the Reading RoomHome Between the Pages, and My Porch.

For a lighter read, I've started Killer Librarian, a debut cozy mystery by Mary Lou Kirwin. Minnesota librarian Karen Nash becomes a sleuth on a literary tour of London when she realizes an assassin has targeted her former boyfriend and his lady friend, who have also traveled to London.

Apart from reading, I baked beer bread for the first time today, adding raisins and dried cranberries for a little tartness and sweetness. Not bad for a test run. I'm thinking of making more tasty breads for Christmas gifts!

What are you reading this week?


20 comments:

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Tasty breads are great Christmas gifts. I say yes!

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Unknown said...

This is just the type of book I enjoy. Thanks for the comments on it!

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Mason Canyon said...

I enjoy books that grab you so when you start reading you can't put down until you finish. State of Wonder does sound intriguing. I also like the plot of Killer Librarian. Two more books to add to my ever-growing list of what to read.

The bread sounds tasty. How are you at Banana Bread? I can't bake bread until it comes out of a plastic bag or you pop the roll. :)

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I have enjoyed several Ann Patchett books, and this one is definitely on my list.

The cozy looks enticing, too; especially since I'll be doing a Cozies Challenge in the New Year.

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Deborah said...

Love Ann Pratchett and cosy mysteries - that Killer Librarian title there is priceless!

The Bookworm said...

This sounds great, especially if you couldn't put it down. The bread sounds yummy!

Booksnyc said...

Impressive - one day! It's such a joy to read a book from start to finish. I really liked this one too!

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

I don't think I've ever read a book in one day! I'm impressed! I've hearfd about this book so much since it came out and I think now I must definitely read it.

I agree that breads make great gifts and I like that you added the fruit. I used to make potato bread and give loaves to my neighbors during the holidays and they loved it!

JoAnn said...

Wow, so impressed that you finished State of Wonder in a day! It was great on audio, too. I love Ann Patchett's books.

Book of Secrets said...

State of Wonder does sound like an imaginative read. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Killer Librarian sounds pretty good too! I love cozy mysteries with bookish sleuths.

Suko said...

Wow! This book must be wonderful for you to have read it so quickly. Ann Patchett's work has been on my list for a while now....

(P.S. The homemade bread sounds delicious.)

Brooke said...

I can't believe I still haven't read anything by Ann Patchett. What is wrong with me?

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

Oh yes, I fully agree with you on loving the setting of this book!

Carol said...

State of Wonder sounds like one I need to pick up based on the setting alone.

thecuecard said...

I, too, liked State of Wonder. My, you read it fast! Here is my review of it : http://www.thecuecard.com/node/691
cheers.

Amused said...

Looks like you have been enjoying a wonderful reading week!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Both of those sound good. I'm seeing lots of cozies popping up around the blogosphere.

Jennifer | Mrs Q Book Addict said...

State of Wonder is on my wish list. Glad you enjoyed it!

Trish said...

I'm so glad you liked this. State of Wonder has been on my TBR shelf for ages and I would really like to get to it.

Tea said...

I want to read "State of Wonder" by Patchett. Thanks for the review and including "Killer Librarian."

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