Friday, March 23, 2012

State of Wonder

by Ann Patchett
June 27 - August 15, 2011

State of WonderIf you pay attention to the dates above (the length of time it took me to read the book), you'll notice that I read State of Wonder about seven months ago. To say I'm behind on blog posting would be the understatement of this young year. But, because I'm so late, I was able to reference other sources that have given State of Wonder the prestigious honor of being on several Best of 2011 lists. And of course you regulars of Read My Mind know that Ann Patchett is a favorite author of mine, so I quickly purchased her latest title less than three weeks after its release. Unfortunately, I do not understand how this landed on so many "Best of" lists.

I think I've said before that I feel like I read faster when I'm on my kindle. Truth. But even so, it just seemed like Patchett took a lot of time building up some spectacular surprise, and I was eagerly anticipating a big reveal. By the time I got to the "wonder" of the book, I was underwhelmed. Dr. Marina Singh is a research scientist who must travel to the Amazon jungle when she learns that a colleague of hers has died unexpectedly and suspiciously. Once in Brazil, Singh is also charged with "nudging" Dr. Annick Swenson; who for years has been researching and failing to properly report her discoveries on a fertility drug that will allow women to conceive well into their 70s and beyond. (No thank you!!!)

Our protagonist was actually rather boring on paper. It's almost as if Marina was the "wrong" lead character. Dr. Swenson was much more feisty and mysterious. And perhaps the jungle itself, so vividly described that it came to life in my mind's eye, was the true heart of the story. Even the native boy, Easter, who never spoke a word, left me wanting more.

In no way does my blasé attitude toward State of Wonder mean that I'm finished with Patchett. It simply means that I don't have to love every book she writes. And while I ultimately found the ending outrageous, it was thanks to Patchett's talent with a pen (or keyboard) that kept me committed until the final words.

"Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find."

* * * *