Ann Patchett has created a compelling and luminous book. From the first few moments I was drawn in to the beautifully written story. Hope Davis renders the characters in a way that enhances the ever more engrossing narrative. There are many threads to pay attention to in State of Wonder - the complex relationships of the characters, the scientific mystery, the growing ethical questions - but even the Amazonian jungle becomes a character in its own right. I've listened to hundreds of books from Audible in the last 5 years. Ms. Patchett's goes in my top 5. Listen to it...you will be doing yourself a favor.
Spectacular setting, spectacular writing, spectacular narration. There is much that I love about Patchett's work, tops on the list is that she stays away from the usual relationships and customary pairings, going for combinations which might seem strange on the surface but really do make sense from an intuitive point of view. And "State of Wonder" has this quality in spades. Minnesotans in the Amazon - can't get much more disparate than that! I also think that the Amazon basin is a complete character in this book, and without it there could be no story. The plot lines are drawn with precision, and I am sure it would have been possible to predict the ending, but I intentionally ignored that aspect in my listen, knowing that if I really thought about it I could have seen it coming, but I preferred to be surprised.
The narration was ideal. Hope Davis develops the story in a mellow, even tone, managing characterization without unnecessary dramatics that can distract.
I love that in the 50's or 60's we'd have two old guy scientists duking it out in the jungle - certainly with firearms involved - but now we have two women, one middle aged and one almost elderly, having a sedate, scientific dialogue about "phantastic" pharma from the rainforest. What's not to like?
I almost gave up on this listen after the first hour. I am so glad I didn't because the book suddenly took off and I stayed awake all night just to see what would happen next! The story is so well written that you will feel yourself a part of the adventure. I even caught myself scratching imagined insect bites. Hope Davis did a fine job as narrator. Well worth slugging through the first hour.
I, too, was looking forward to listening to this book. Loved Bel Canto. But this one really disappointed. The overall concept of the plot was interesting, but the details as it unfolded were not believable. I found Marina to be wishy-washy and naive. She really irritated me! And Hope Davis's narrative style added to the disappointing experience. Her voice was very flat and uninteresting. I plodded on to the end just to find out what happened, but cannot recommend this book to anyone.
This is the first Ann Patchett book I've ever experienced (never read anything, just listened). I loved this story. It was engaging and interesting and I connected with the characters. Hope Davis' narration was pitched perfectly, and she handled the Australian accents with ease. Loved this story. It made me go looking for more Ann Patchett.
As a literature teacher and voracious reader, I was excited to listen to a book with so many wonderful reviews. A quarter through the book, I was still waiting for the brilliance. It takes forever to get to what I thought was the plot. I patiently continued, still waiting, ending with little satisfaction. While this book is very well read, the plot is so thin and ultimately ridiculously unrealistic, it completely lost me. If you like science/medical-related plots, don't bother - it lacks any kind of reality. I'm still questioning all the accolades of this book, the wonderful reviews, the placement on 'best of' lists - I find it baffling. As a fairly eclectic reader, I can find some value in most books - not this one. Don't waste your money or your credit.
I don't really know if I liked this book or not. Its overall is higher for me than either the story or the narration deserves because the writing is actually really good.
The premise is odd, and the characters all behave weirdly. Plus- I don't want to give anything away here- the ending is very hurried. Some fairly major things happen which ordinary people would definately have some moral hesitation over, and there's basically zip by way of ethical crisis despite the fact that every emotion throughout the rest of the book is pretty thouroughly canvased. People act out of character too. The whole thing just feels like the author had a word limit she realized she was closing in on in the last chapter and decided to finish in ten pages or less.
Plus, the whole thing was depressing. There is no part of it where there is a real celebration of life or the sense that things will be better or any kind of true happiness. Even the thing that is supposed to be happy is tainted so that it doesn't actually feel like a good thing at all.
The writing is very good though. The author can string words together in very precise ways to evoke specific emotions or to paint a truely vivid scene. If you ignored the story, it would be worth it for the writing.
Ann Patchett is an excellent writer and Hope Davis was an excellent choice of narrator. Part mystery, part comedy, part soul searching - there is a bit of everything in this book. There are points of the novel where one has to suspend disbelief but overall, it was well worth downloading.
Lured in by thoughts of the jungle unfolding before my eyes, howler monkeys screeching over head, the roaring of jungle cats stalking through the grasses, native tribesmen with bundles of shrunken heads for sale along the banks of the river...WAIT a minute!!! That's the Disney Jungle Cruise...Not since I saw the "back side of water" have I been so disenchanted.
Not even decent writing can save this creepy (more about that) ridiculous story. Unlikeable characters, stereotyped natives, absurd plot, with a made for LifeTime channel ending that had me wanting to hit myself--just for finishing. Creepy? Pregnant great-grandma's do that to some people.
Suggested reads for those wanting some jungle adventure where the only creepy things have more than 2 legs and are crawling on the ground: The River of Doubt, Lost City of Z.
I was absolutely consumed by Ann Patchett's newest offering which takes us to the depths of the Amazon for drug company research. I knew very little about the book when I began other than it was written by the author of Bel Canto which was a huge recommendation and that it took place in the Amazon, another positive. The two books by Patchett couldn't be more different. I pretty much tuned out the rest of the world for hours at a time while I looked for excuses to listen to just a few more minutes. I found the pace of this much quicker than that of Bel Canto which I read in paper not audio format. I won't re-hash the plot because you can read that elsewhere and I don't want to give too much away but I found the entire premise of the book compelling and was completely mesmerized by the storyline. Two such varied titles as Bel Canto and State of Wonder make me marvel at the abilities of this author.