Top positive review
An Extraordinary Book
Reviewed in the United States on February 7, 2017
This is the second book I have read by Ann Patchett. (The first was "Commonwealth.") I sense a writer's "trick" in these two that she uses magnificently. In both books, we have perfectly ordinary people living perfectly ordinary lives. And then (insert the golden Plot Key and twist slightly) something happens that is not perfectly ordinary and changes their lives. This happens in the first few pages of the book. And then we share in the experience of these perfectly ordinary people as they deal with something they never imagined--and the implications and effects it has on those they love. And when I say "experience," I mean that. Ann Patchett fully draws the reader into the book. The stories are not scary or filled with terror (remember, the "perfectly ordinary" descriptions above), but the story will haunt you.
The basic plot of "State of Wonder": In the first sentence we learn that Dr. Anders Eckman is dead. Anders had traveled deep into the Amazon at the behest of his employer, a Minneapolis-based pharmaceutical company that has a researcher working at a secret site on a secret drug that will revolutionize the world. But the researcher is incommunicado. Anders was sent to investigate. And then tragedy strikes. With few details about his death and no body (he was hastily buried in the jungle), Dr. Marina Singh, Anders's officemate, is sent to the Amazon to find out what happened to this married father of three young boys. And so begins a state of wonder in which the reader will be carried with descriptions so vivid that it's easy to envision the chaos and blistering heat of the jungle and almost hear the squawking birds and screeching creatures that inhabit it. Marina's perfectly ordinary life has been upended and will never be perfectly ordinary again.
But the book is so much more than plot--no matter how riveting and engrossing. It is also about people, our connections, the choices we make and the effects those choices have on us and others.