State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder - Ann Patchett

What a journey this book takes you on. Deeper and deeper, coiling the tension, or, more often, taking a turn you'd barely had the wherewithal to anticipate.


The story is clearly modeled on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, except I really liked it. ;) A pharmaceutical company is developing an important fertility drug, but it hasn't heard from the doctor running the project in the Amazon for some time. The researcher they sent most recently to investigate has died with barely any additional information accompanying the note informing the company of this. So a new researcher, the protagonist, Dr. Marina Singh, is sent next to learn more.


The book is suspenseful, but one of its chief pleasures for me was the tangle of its relationships and the shifting of my attitude toward the characters (and Marina's changing feelings about her goals and the people involved). These are subject to the ethical issues raised by researchers working amongst an Amazonian tribe and what Marina learns about the drug being studied, amongst other things. Colonialism and racism are huge problems in Heart of Darkness, and State of Wonder tackles them head on.


I think if I read this book again, it would become a favorite. Or, maybe the fact that I want to read it again already indicates it's a favorite!