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State of Wonder

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  106,938 ratings  ·  12,954 reviews
Award-winning "New York Times"-bestselling author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, The Magician's Assistant) returns with a provocative novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest--a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devour
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Hardcover, 353 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2011)
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Agnes I found the characters stiff, without life, and the style of the writing very forced. You could feel the sweat of the author trying to craft…moreI found the characters stiff, without life, and the style of the writing very forced. You could feel the sweat of the author trying to craft sentences, but they were not flowing. I wanted to like this book just because of its connection to Minnesota, but the unnaturalness of the characters was alienating. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle McClellan
I thought that Ann Patchett had made her great contribution to literature with "Bel Canto," which seemed to me to be the perfect novel, and stays high on the list of my very favorites. It is the book that I sold by hand as a bookseller and the book that I still pass along to friends. I should keep a stack of them since I have handed mine off so many times that I never know if I have a copy or not. A jewel box of structure, character, and language that left me overwhelmed with admiration.

Since r
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Carol.
Mar 18, 2015 Carol. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: perhaps Patchett fans?
Alas, I did not reach a state of wonder reading this. I would say I was in State(s) of: Interest, Appreciation, Mild Irritation, Interest Modified by Moments of Irritation, Shock, and then Milder Shock that dwindled into a State of General Annoyance, which would possibly make it the longest book title in history.

A super-summary: Although she trained as an OB/GYN doctor, Marina is working in service of evil a pharmaceutical drug researcher who has studied cholesterol for the past seven years with
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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clare Cannon

A scientific jungle experiment/investigation involving an elderly and rather secretive matriarchal doctor who leads the experiment, a missing/deceased company representative who was sent to investigate what the experiment is up to, and a female company representative (who happens to also be a former medical student of the matriarch) who is sent to investigate what happened to the previous company representative.

In spite of lengthy descriptions of the experiment and professorial soliloquising by
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Maggie
This novel was just what I've been looking for this summer: a dazzling story, a meaty pile of ethical questions, characters that endure long after the book is over, and prose that gets more beautiful the more you notice it. I didn't love the novel's end; it was a bit too rushed for me, and the sudden pile-on of action left me wanting more of the slow build-up that carried us to the climax. It occurs to me, though, that wanting more of a book is as good a sign as any that it won me over completel ...more
Paddy
After all the rave reviews, my expectations were high. But this is no Bel Canto. The infuriatingly hapless heroine does not look ahead to scout out minor(everyone knows to pack some necessities in carry-on luggage, including cell phone)or major consequences of her actions and is locked in past failures and losses (one grows tired of her lost father nightmares and all her screaming). One could also hope for subtler symbolism and metaphors, less stilted dialogue, more skillful writing. For example ...more
Kerry
I really wanted to like this book. After all, there are all the raving reviews, and it's the kind of story that usually grabs and holds my interest (jungle adventure + medical drama), but I couldn't finish it. In fact, I gave up after the 4th disc (the audio book has 11 discs). The story plods on like the stifling heat of the jungle, so slow, that it was all padding and no plot for almost half of the book! The author wrote painstaking all the tedious details of Marina's past (she has father issu ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Apr 03, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cultural: S American - Amazon
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Arah-Lynda Hay
I won’t give too much detail; you need to read this spoiler free. It’s deliciously gloomy and atmospheric, a dark adventure with Hitchcock style suspense. You’d expect a fearless heroine in a novel like this; instead you get Dr. Marina Singh, a neurotic woman with a really bad case of low self-esteem quite content with her life as a pharmacologist. That is till her boss & lover Mr. Fox (exactly the kind of ass insecure women go for) bullies her into taking on the quest of finding a missing c ...more
Uomo di Speranza
WARNING: SPOILERS PRESENT!
When everyone was in about second grade, their teacher taught them about how each butterfly was once an entirely alternative being called a caterpillar. She also must have thrown in the term "cocoon" while you were thinking about how mean the cockney in front of you was for stealing your colorful eraser. Nevertheless, most everyone conceived the concept that there were two inseparable stages to a butterfly's life, two states completely indistinguishable from one another
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Arah-Lynda
This marks the third time that I have dipped into the writing pool of Ann Patchett and let me tell you, she does not disappoint!
Dr. Marina Singh embarks on a trip to Brazil in an effort to determine two things: What happened to her colleague, who had died there scant weeks ago and what kind of progress was being made by her former mentor in the development of a new fertility drug that was being funded by her pharmaceutical company. Both of these tasks prove to be most complex and difficult to a
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JoAnne Pulcino
STATE OF WONDER
Anne Patchett
This marvelous atmospheric and multi layered novel takes place in the Amazon jungle where an emissary from a pharmaceutical company dies under mysterious circumstances at a research facility.
Dr. Marina Singh is sent to find the remains and effects, but must first locate the famous and reclusive gynecologist, Dr. Swenson who is in charge of the research. Dr. Swenson is researching the women of a local tribe who can conceive well past middle age, and other secret remedi
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Julie - Book Hooked Blog
My all-encompassing love for Ann Patchett is not a secret. She is my absolute favorite living author and I own every single one of her books. (Side note: remember that time she came to Chattanooga and I couldn't afford to go to the signing - still bitter about that). I've been anxiously waiting on the release State of Wonder for a while now, so when TLC gave me the opportunity to review, you know I was all over it. The day it came in the mail I called Luke at work because I was so excited. And w ...more
Bucket
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenn
This book has made me despair for the American publishing industry in a way I hadn't, yet. Why despair? Because it is only the constant pressure to produce, to publish, that would make a company like HarperCollins and a writer with the ability of Ann Patchett push forward this work, which is at best uneven and at worst something that I would expect to emerge from a blinded-by-friendship writer's group. Does that seem harsh? If it is, it's because I expect -- perhaps unfairly -- more of Patchett ...more
Madeline
Full disclosure: I fucking hated Heart of Darkness, so when I read that this was sort of a female version of the story, I was wary. But State of Wonder is, fortunately, nothing like Heart of Darkness. For one thing, it's coherent (bazinga!) and although there are thematic similarities, the story stands on its own merits. Conrad can suck it.

The story follows Marina Singh, a researcher at Vogel Pharmaceutical. For years, Vogel has been funding a research project in the Amazon, led by Singh's form
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Sarah
I read this at my mother's request and recommendation. She rarely recommends books and even more rarely asks me to let her know when I've finished so we can discuss it. And also, it talks place in the Amazonian rain forest, a place where I had recently spent some time. As you can probably tell, I'm delaying the start of this review. The book was okay. And I guess for me it falls into those categories of books I sometimes describe as "writers workshop-y" where the author's hand of god is felt for ...more
Debra
This was my first Patchett book and I wasn't disappointed. I've read the thoughtfully-written positive and negative reviews, and can see the points some people have made about the main character's (Marina) unbelievable naivety, stupid choices, and deep feelings about a seemingly shallow relationship with her boss. Thoughts of marriage to him, come on! One reviewer said she should have run off with Milton and I absolutely agree. I wanted to shake her silly sometimes. And, yes, the science doesn't ...more
Dana Stabenow
I should have known there would be opera. After Bel Canto, I should have known. I'm sorry, but Patchett, Pretty Woman and Moonstruck notwithstanding, I just can't get behind the idea of opera as a redemptive force.

A modern retelling of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, that feels more like Apocalypse Now. Beautifully written. Some good situational humor ("The shaman would no doubt have direct billing with Vogel."). Plot wandery and repetitive, and, I suppose most damning for me, I didn't give a hoot a
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Katie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
☮Karen
Most definitely my favorite Patchett book. Such an adventure, interesting and complex characters; and throughout the jungle scenes I found myself thinking of Barbara Kingsolver and the many wonders she has created for us on the pages of her books. I had imagined so many horrible endings from other reviews I read, but nothing like what played out here. The "rushed" conclusion seemed fitting to me, to match the emotions and actions that developed. I know that down the road this story will come bac ...more
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
I really liked this story a lot, but at times found myself getting bored. What? Bored? I think this had to do with Patchett's language being so straight forward at times, when what was happening was so fantastical, magical, and extraordinary. It might also be unfair, as I have been reading some very provocative writing styles.

This is a story of a secret lab in the Amazon who's researchers have discovered a tribe who have amazing abilities. I won't spoil what these are, only to say they are extr
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Nancy
I've read two previous Ann Patchett novels (Bel Canto and Run) and was disappointed by both. I wondered if I was being sucked in one more time by erroneous good reviews. No. I raced through this book, finishing it on Thanksgiving even though I had house-guests.

State of Wonder weaves together a number of threads that build a good novel where nearly everyone can find a personal "hook"-- personality conflicts, infidelity, secrets, wilderness exploration, science, medicine, parenting. One is the end
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I had a good time with this book, and would like to give it 4 stars for enjoyment, but some significant flaws detract from my ability to recommend it to others.

State of Wonder is about a scientist, Dr. Marina Singh, working for a pharmaceutical company that is attempting to develop a new fertility drug in the Amazon. The company sends Marina to the research site to report on the progress of the drug, the brainchild of Marina’s former teacher, Dr. Swenson. But Marina, naturally, finds much more t
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Reddwhine
I don't understand the 4 and 5 star ratings for this book. Maybe Patchett and I just don't speak the same English. I disliked Bel Canto intensely but the description of State of Wonder made it seem really appealing and so I decided that maybe Bel Canto was a fluke. Wrong! I forced myself to finish this book only because the premise was really interesting and I kept hoping that as I got further into the book it would do something...anything. Marina was so flat, her relationship with Mr. Fox so un ...more
Christina
it's been a while since a book has forced me to keep reading.. I have hated the interruptions of work and sleep.
Ann Patchett writes amazing people....Marina, Dr Swenson, Anders, the Bovenders, Milton and Thomas and Easter.
This is a keeper. This is a book to read again!
Colleen
I really liked the first half of the book. It had the right amount of science mixed in for me and seemed plausible. The second half of the book lost me.
Joy H.
Added 7/24/11. (Book first published in 2010)
I love Ann Patchett's writing.
I hope this book will be as good as her others.

Jan. 2012 - Finished reading this wonderful book. Loved it! Below is a post I made at my group concerning this book on 12/28/11:
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I'm in the middle of reading State of Wonder (2011) by Ann Patchett. I picked it up from the library's new book section on the spur of the moment. Glad I did. It's just as good as (if not better than) Patc
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Ed
I am not sure what's going on between me and Ann Patchett. This is the third time around the block with her. I remember good things about The Magician's Assistant many moons ago, but seemed to be in the minority when it came to Bel Canto. While I thought it was quite good, I struggled with what I just didn't "get" that apparently a whole lot of others did. Such is the case with her latest, State of Wonder, which seems to have critics and a lot of readers swooning. Again, I found it to be quite g ...more
Vivienne

It was fairly obvious that Patchett's tale of a trip undertaken into an inhospitable jungle in order to track down a maverick researcher had taken inspiration from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness; even the official synopsis above directly evokes this reference. While I've never read the original novel, I have seen Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and so made the connection quite quickly. Of course, since Conrad's time the issues have changed and yet in other respects they are perennial. M
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Who was the father of Dr Swenson's baby? 23 747 May 13, 2015 01:23AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett 1 8 May 11, 2015 02:39PM  
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Bailey's/Orange W...: * Feb 14 Archive State of Wonder 41 22 Jan 03, 2015 11:50AM  
did anyone else catch this? SPOILER! 130 2710 Nov 13, 2014 07:58AM  
Book Broads: Twelfth Book 1 1 Nov 12, 2014 08:47PM  
talk talk 1 22 Nov 03, 2014 03:48PM  
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Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi
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More about Ann Patchett...
Bel Canto Run Truth and Beauty The Magician's Assistant Patron Saint of Liars

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“Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.” 1629 likes
“Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don't know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it's not. It's a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.” 94 likes
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