Tuesday, July 26, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


A while ago, I listened to an interview with author Ann Patchett. Her new book, State of Wonder, had just been released, and upon hearing the interview, I was intrigued. After reading the book, I am a fan and will definitely read some of her previous novels.

After receiving a brief letter that a colleague has died in the jungle, the main character, Marina, is the unlikely choice of her employer to travel to South America. Marina’s company is involved in developing new pharmaceuticals in the Amazonian jungle, and she is sent to ascertain what stage the research is at. The head researcher, a former teacher of Marina’s, is unresponsive to all attempts made by the company to contact her. Although she is reluctant to go, part of Marina wants to know what happened to her friend and colleague, and answer some of the questions surrounding his death. Once there, Marina finds herself facing personal, physical and ethical challenges.

This is a well researched novel that is appealing for many reasons. The characters are richly drawn, and complex. The plot is tightly woven with many unexpected twists and turns (so don’t peek at the ending). In it, Patchett poses many questions regarding human behavior, science, and technology, and asks: just because we can do something, should we.

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