In Patchett’s newest novel, State of Wonder, Marina Singh, a pharmaceutical researcher, is sent by her company to the Amazon jungle to find a missing colleague, Anders Eckman. This former colleague is also a former mentor from Singh’s days at medical school before she dropped out. Anders was sent some weeks prior to track down the allusive and intimidating Dr. Annick Swenson and retrieve updates on her progress for a sonder drug being created to assist in fertility.
The novel follows Singh on her journey into the jungle and out of her comfort zone. Patchett manipulates her characters in such a way that they are forced to give the story and each other everything they have.
Singh is forced into a situation where everything is strange and unusual, the rules of conduct are different and it seems as though everything is against her. She rises to the challenge and with force, obtains passage to the remote area where Dr. Annick Swenson resides. Once there, she eventually surrenders herself to all that surrounds her. Her quest is one that will only be successful if she allows herself a change in perspective.
State of Wonder is perfectly paced with a cast of very likable and well thought out characters. The plot of the story isn’t merely a musing on modern drug creations and the west’s effects on tribal cultures, but also a multi-layered exploration in the power of environment, philosophy, ethics, with a small smattering of mystery to keep you only wanting more. The novel delves into an exploration of nature versus nurture, where in the end, your own views may be influenced.
The title has been perfectly defined, as the novel suspends you and its characters in a state of wonder. Intricate descriptions of the Amazon jungle and all of its characteristics: vegetation, lifestyle, inhabitants, sounds and smells. State of Wonder is an adventure worth undertaking.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Zach.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.