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State of Wonder

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  164,530 ratings  ·  16,482 reviews
As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy ...more
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published May 3rd 2011)
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Jill I would hope she would return to the jungle, leave her job in Minnesota. There was nothing in Minnesota to give her cause to return. In the jungle she…moreI would hope she would return to the jungle, leave her job in Minnesota. There was nothing in Minnesota to give her cause to return. In the jungle she was valued as an individual. She was part of a community. The Lakashi accepted her skills and presence among them. In the jungle she worked as the practicing physician she would never have the opportunity to do in Minnesota. Jungle girl, all the way!(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Peg I'm not sure why the ending is seen as unhappy. Marina has made several important transitions. What would have made it "happy"? Bringing Easter to Min…moreI'm not sure why the ending is seen as unhappy. Marina has made several important transitions. What would have made it "happy"? Bringing Easter to Minnesota? That's questionable. Certainly not a romance with Anders. Minnesota seems like a lovely fresh canvas at the end of the book.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  164,530 ratings  ·  16,482 reviews


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Tara
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
carol.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Will Byrnes
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle McClellan
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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. The book is a jewel box of structure, character, and language that left me overwhelmed with admirat ...more
Jen
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s a wonder I never got to this sooner!
There is always something mystical when a story takes you into the depths of the Amazon where civilization doesn’t exist; tribes and their cultures are what does.
Marina Singh is sent down by the pharmaceutical company she works for to track down a researcher who ignores all contact with the outside world and to find out how another close colleague of hers died while there.
Vivid colours, wildlife, insects, dreams and extraordinary customs.
Reminiscent of Eu
...more
Peter
Discovery
State of Wonder is a story that conveys a wonderful adventure of stunning scope and scenery. Marina Singh is sent into the isolated regions of the Rio Negro to investigate the death of one colleague and meet up with her former professor and team leader Dr Swenson. Dr Swenson has been pursuing a biologic drug candidate which could revolutionise treatment for women. The investors, funding the research, are keen to understand the details, but it is shrouded in secrecy. Will they ever get i
...more
Clare Cannon
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adults

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
...more
Arah-Lynda
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-said, 2011, top
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
...more
Maggie
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Brandice
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
State of Wonder was such a great story, one I was hooked on right from the beginning.

Marina Singh, a scientist working for a pharmaceutical company, Vogel, in Minnesota, is sent down to the jungle of Brazil to find out what happened in the death of her close co-worker, Anders. He had previously traveled there to check on the progress of a doctor whose research regarding fertility drugs is being funded by Vogel. This doctor, Dr. Swenson, also happens to be one of Marina’s former professors. The
...more
Paddy
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Diane
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's been seven years since I first read State of Wonder, and the novel is even more luminous than I remembered. Ann Patchett is one of my veryveryvery favorite writers, and rereading her books is such a joy.

The story follows Dr. Marina Singh, who is tasked with going to the Amazon to learn what happened to a colleague who died while working on a new drug. Singh's journey is both perilous and emotional, and this reader was captivated all over again by her adventure.

If you like beautiful writing
...more
Elyse  Walters
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars!
I was enthralled with this story. Yet, Its a good thing I'm writing this review 'now' --because the more I think about the details of the 'entire' story iself, my review could get get lower and lower.

I was going to give it 4 stars (some inconsistencies going on in this novel), Yet, this was also a compulsively readable book!

Have you ever read a book that you loved 'while' reading it...yet, the more you started thinking about the absurdity of the storyline....you found yourself laugh
...more
Joy D
Dr. Marina Singh is sent from her home in Minnesota to the jungles of Brazil by her employer, a pharmaceutical company. Her purpose is twofold – to find out what happened to her colleague, Dr. Anders Eckman, who has died of fever in the rainforest, and to determine the status of research on a new wonder drug being conducted by her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson. Dr. Swenson has been in the field for many years, but details have not been forthcoming.

This book is a slowly developing multiple m
...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 colle ...more
Bucket
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madeline
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Betsy Robinson
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my second Ann Patchett novel, after meeting her through The Dutch House not long ago, and I'm so pleased and surprised. I'm pleased because her writing is so technically sound (beautiful narrative, no structural glitches, real characters, complex relationships) that my editor's head goes on vacation and I can simply enjoy like a normal reader. And I'm surprised and delighted by her range: State of Wonder is completely different from the family drama of The Dutch House; it is a great ...more
Margitte
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
From the official blurb:
"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, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of
...more
Uomo di Speranza
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jenn
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Debbie
omg. Fantastic book! Goes on my favorites list and is in fact one of my all-time favorites!
Sue
Patchett brings the Amazon to life in this novel. It's a smothering, overwhelmingly hot, green, creature-filled jungle approachable by waters infested with beings that can kill humans in myriad ways. Yet it's also home to tribes of natives who live with and from the jungle. There are fantastic birds and scary insects and snakes. And there may be a cure for infertility. That is the beginning of the story and the basis on which the protagonist, Dr. Marina Singh, travels to Brazil to track what hap ...more
JoAnne Pulcino
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Reddwhine
Sep 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
The second time around for this one. Ironically this time it was a book club selection that I chose. I was curious whether I would think it was as horrible the second time around. I'm a glutton for punishment, what can I say? Here is my review combined with my previous review...and for the record, nothing has changed.

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 rather intriguing and so I decided that ma
...more
Julie G
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
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 ...more
Sarah
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sara
Sometimes you can really enjoy a book while you are reading it, then when you are completely done and reflect for a few minutes realize it is not just improbable, but impossible. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called drama "that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment” and Patchett knew what he was talking about, she is able to make you do that completely.

Somewhere in the wilds of Brazil is Dr. Annick Swenson, researching a fertility drug and refusing to tell even the head of the drug company w
...more
Victoria
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautifully crafted novel with a unique plot that never became preachy or politicized issues so I was never taken out of the story. The characters were interesting--flawed and often unsympathetic--but like real people, there were moments of redemption. And the setting was vivid and artfully rendered without too much detail, it never became bogged down in descriptions, yet you felt the overpowering atmosphere at every turn.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy Ann Patchett’s writing, she i
...more
Julie
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
My interest was captivated by the first paragraph and it lasted until the last line. This book is an example of "slow and steady wins the race." I believed in the existence of each character. Great summer read!
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11,286 followers
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
...more

Articles featuring this book

Malarial mosquitoes, 15-foot anacondas, and a fertility research team gone AWOL—the author of Bel Canto talks about State of Wonder, her new...
10 likes · 6 comments
“Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.” 1696 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.” 133 likes
More quotes…