State of Wonder

Thoughts sowbyap by Ann Patchett, Harper Audio 2011, 12 hours 25 minutes

Challenge: Readalong!  #StateOfWonder
Genre:  Contemporary Lit, Med Lit even maybe
Type/Source: Audiobook / May’s Credit
 Why I read this now: I can’t remember exactly how it all came together…

MOTIVATION for READING: Because I loved This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and it made me want to read all of Patchett’s books.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Here’s the blurb from

Set in the Amazonian jungle, State of Wonder is a major and explosively ambitious new audiobook from the New York Times-bestselling author of Bel Canto and Run–both a gripping adventure story and a profound investigation of difficult human choices.

I love short blurbs. This is perfect.

****** YOU WILL BE SPOILED WITH THIS POST IF YOU READ ON. TOTAL SHARING COMMENCING *****  To be honest, I hate doing this because then you are setup that there are SHOCKS and AWE and I wasn’t aware of them until I got it spoiled. Just sayin’.

WHAT’s GOOD: Hope Davis is now one of my favorite audiobook performers.

What’s NOT so good: Ok, I really did love most of all of it. I admit that I had read many not-so-positive reviews looooong time ago that made me not tbr this (though when I look NOW at what my goodreads friends thought of it, all seemed to praise it well enough.)

Katie who no longer lives in Massachusetts but dwells in the dells of Texas now is writing a spoileriffic post where we will be soon discussing THE ENDING! I can’t wait.

I’m trying to anticipate her issues with the ending with my own wonderings of my reactions – including spoilers here, be only slightly forewarned. oh, I already warned you? Are you ready?

I first must say that I want to blame Aths for spoilering me anyway even as I attempted to avoid being spoiled. But she had a comment in her review – WHAT?! WHY THE HECK DID I READ IT BEFORE I WAS DONE WITH THE BOOK!??!!? – about how the wife of Anders suspected he wasn’t dead (“He can’t be dead; I’d know” and the romantic in me wants to believe that.) and that is why Marina agreed to go get answers. Yes, this nagged at the back of my mind without me really examining it.

“…and the wife is convinced that Anders isn’t dead. And so begins Marina’s incredible journey to Brazil,…”

The quote above is lifted directly from Reading on a Rainy Day’s review of this book. Her stating this AND after reading the choice quote she included to kickoff the post nagged at me…

GUESS WHAT!  Anders ends up alive.

  1.  How did he not get killed by the scary deadly cannibals?
  2. She (Marina) was able to find him in a quick trip down the river after many MANY mentions how hard everyone thought it was to find the RIGHT tributary?
  3. Of course, (pls read that ‘of course’ with dripping sarcasm), we had to sacrifice the FAVORITE character in the entire book!!!
  4. OK – I also thought that Marina was going to end up staying to carry on Doc-What’s-Her-Crazy’s work…  I did. I really thought she was going to stay.
  5. I was sad the baby died. I was.
  6. I agreed with Dr. Crazy – women shouldn’t have babies late. I think the idea is nuts. I liked the juxtaposition (simplified as it was) that we could develop a drug for all-aged-women fertility vs malaria vax? Whoa.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  It was fun. The anaconda scene was worth everything. Some of the ‘thoughts’ seem very simple as I think back on it – cartoonish even. Rapp mushrooms?  Lavender moths? Only place in the world? Whatever.

I enjoyed(?) the dilemma discussions of ‘saving’ primitive peoples. Even as Doc rallied against a lot of it, she was still attempting a huge savior move with a malaria vaccine.

Someone on Twitter asked me…  AS A SCIENTIST, does it seem REAL to you and the question threw me. Off-tilted me. Science is so many things. Patchett writes very well and she can put the reader in that time, that place, very realistically. So can Stephen King. Do we ever ‘question’ the reality of his books?! no, we enjoy the ride of crazy because it is buoyed by true imagination, creativity and emotion. EMOTIONS is the button we love.

Does anyone want to discuss the title?

RATING: I rounded up to 5 slices of pie. Fun read. All sorts of existential questions, real or not; the questions ARE real.

No mention of pie.






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21 thoughts on “State of Wonder

  1. I really loved this book when I read it and imagine I’d still enjoy it if I picked it up again, but I’ve since read a few similar books (Euphoria, The People in the Trees) that felt more real to me and kind of knocked this one down a peg or two.

    1. Oo, this is such an interesting point by Shannon. I read State of Wonder — and quite liked it! — well before I read The People in the Trees, and now I’m thinking it would be super interesting to read the two of them side by side. They’re very different books, but they share a lot of commonalities, and. Hmmmmmmmmm. That would be really cool. Do I have time to do that? Is that a thing I want to do? HMMMMMM.

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I loved this book when I read it years ago (even though I did not get all the hype around Bel Canto)…and agree that a 70 year old woman should not be having babies!! For so many reasons even if it were medically possible. So many interesting things to think about in this story…

    Looking forward to Commonwealth this fall.

  3. **This is spoilery****

    It’s been a while since I read this book but I found the ending to be very out of character for Anders to leave Easter behind the way he did (I think I have the names right.) and that really bothered me.

      1. that’s my only issue with the book as well ~ Anders seemed so casual about it; especially after all we learned about him planning to take Easter back to Minneapolis AND teaching him how to read and write, etc. etc. Ok I won’t get carried away in the comments but still! WHY!!! WHY!!! oh Easter you poor baby!

  4. You’re making me want to read this again, because I can’t remember it well enough any more to follow everything you’re saying! But, oh well, it was good when I read it and I’m glad you liked it so much!
    I love what you say at the end about whether or not a book feels real. If the writer is good, then the book will feel real, even if it isn’t. It doesn’t matter.
    The book I’m reading right now (The Naturalist by Alissa York) also takes place in the Amazon and has made me think of this one and a couple of others. But, it’s also different. Can’t wait to find out how it ends!

  5. Erm…. Oops. I had to go back read my review so I could remember what I wrote. Lol! I did sneak a slightly spoiler detail in though technically it’s what Marina thinks, not necessarily what happened. But…. Yeah, a statement like that would bother me too. Oops again. Sorry about that. But you enjoyed the book anyways right? Right?

    1. Yes, I enjoyed it and don’t worry about me blaming you for anything! I shouldn’t have read your post. Couldn’t resist! Go read Katie’s reread post. It’s fun.

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