A pharmacologist travels to the Amazon to learn about the death of a colleague. Patchett writes with skill and beauty, but it is not enough to make you overlook a rather dumb main character and a patchy storyline. I love Patchett’s Bel Canto and The Magician’s Apprentice. If you have read those, I would recommend reading this, but if you have never read Patchett, I wouldn’t start here.
What Patchett does best in this novel is capture the claustrophobic feeling of traveling abroad (and especially to less developed countries). This novel is something of a novel of Stockholm Syndrome, as the main character gets trapped by, and then falls in love with, her circumstances, her captor and her jungle location.
Patchett writes with her usual skill, but the characters were not as rounded as those in her other novels, aspects of plot were far-fetched and there was a disconnect between how people would really act/how the real world works. Some aspects of this led State of Wonder to read more like light chick lit (and the ending certainly didn’t help) than a piece of serious literature.
On a random note, Ann Patchett just opened a bookstore near where I live. Cool!