Thursday, May 26, 2011

reading more....State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I confess...I post my blog entries on FB and yesterday did spark some debate so I'm more inspired to write a book review that I'd been waiting on a bit (have another I'm nearly done reading and have a tour one due to post next week). 

I once again feel the need to emphasize that I'm a tough grader.  And I really want half stars...I'm not limited on my blog entry but I crosspost to Goodreads and Amazon, both of which have only whole star options that go up to five stars.  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (who also penned Bel Canto which I enjoyed very much) is another 3.5 star book for me.  I'm opting to round down here, a decision that really only came after the final pages of the book.

Marina is a research scientist with both an M.D. and PhD (I have many smart friends, the one I think is smartest is an MD/PhD so they impress me).  She is working for a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota and is having a tryst with her older boss when they get a letter that a colleague has died.  This colleague had gone to the Amazon to check on research done by another colleague (and a former teacher of Marina's) who is studying a remote tribe and is not really providing progress updates.  After a request by the colleague's widow and her boss, Marina travels to Brazil and eventually the tribe in search of answers about both the researcher and the research. 

I found a lot of the book interesting and enjoyed the different settings (MN lab, the city in Brazil, the remote location of the tribe).  I thought the places were well-developed, at times moreso than the characters.  I also found the research topic interesting and it raised some good questions about what we should and shouldn't do physically and about the complexities of research funding.  The prose was easy to read but I didn't find it as engaging as I found Patchett's work in Bel Canto.  I tend to be a reader of characters and style and felt more like this was a plot book....nothing wrong with that, just not my style. 

So, through most of the book it was a solid like but definitely not a love, which put it in 3.5 stars territory.  However, I really didn't like the way the ending went.  It felt like the author rushed to wrap it up neatly in 20 pages and just did so to make it all clean and "complete."  I tend to prefer messier endings.  So, it got rounded down to 3.  It's an easy read and I'd encourage folks to read it if they want a book that's easy but does have depth to the story and raises issues worth talking about.

This was another book provided by the lovely folks at Harper whom I thank for feeding my book addiction and leaving me the money for my red wine.

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