Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review of State of Wonder

I was one of the few people I know who didn't absolutely love Bel Canto, so I was a little unsure about picking up State of Wonder. All I knew was that I'd been playing online Scrabble and Words With Friends way too much before bed, and I needed a new, good novel. And State of Wonder was fun. Marina is a medical doctor-turned-pharmacologist who is sent by her pharmaceutical company to find a rogue scientist, Dr. Annick Swenson, in the heart of the Amazon. Dr. Swenson has been working to synthesize a fertility drug from the bark of trees that results in prolonged fertility in a unique indigenous tribe deep in the Amazon. The company has not heard from Dr. Swenson in months save a recent letter informing the company that Marina's colleague, Dr. Anders Eckmann, who was sent prior to Marina to follow up on Dr. Swenson's progress, has died of fever. And you'll have to read the book to find out the rest.

Although not a feat of literary genius, State of Wonder quickly transports the reader into the hot, humid, and complex world of the city of Manaus, Brazil's gateway to the Amazon, and then the insect-ridden, snake-infested, malarial-haunted forests of the Amazon. The mystery surrounding Dr. Eckmann's death and the odd behavior of Dr. Swenson make for a good plot, and the creativity of the fertility sub-theme and everything that goes with it is what makes this book better than average. This is the perfect vacation-on-the-beach book, and one I would recommend if you're looking for a different kind of story.


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