Friday, January 27, 2012

State of Wonder

Book Review

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I think I stumbled upon this book in a listing of new books. I had never read Ann Patchett before, but she has written several books, some which I would like to read.

So why shouldn't I start with the most recent?

No reason.

Except that all of the library copies were checked out. I had to request this book. And I did request it.

And it finally arrived.

I needed to start reading it right away. I could bet that there were already more requests for it. Once there are requests for a book, I can't renew it at the end of my three weeks.

Add to that, this book is 526 pages in the large print form. I needed to get started right away and finish in under three weeks.

No sweat.

Well, we'll see about that.

See, I read my large prints on the treadmill every morning.

State of Wonder

This is a novel centers on a doctor trying to find information about how her colleague died. The trouble is that he died in the Amazon and there is no reliable means of communication between his group in the Amazon and his employer and family back in Minnesota.  Dr. Marina Singh goes to the Amazon herself to find out what she can.

Our author gives us a nice, in depth look into Marina's character. I like this. We get to learn about some of her childhood, her time through college and her choice of profession. Action is not the name of the game during the early part of the book when we are learning all of this.

But once we know enough about our protagonist, things start moving. Even during the action, we get plenty of descriptions that helped me imagine the setting. This gave the setting a depth that could have easily been glossed over or skipped. I'm glad it wasn't.

We never get much insight into our antagonist. In spite of that, I never felt like she was one dimensional. All of her motivations are single-minded, but maybe that is just how some people are. Wait. I know people like that. Maybe that's why she didn't feel overly simplified. She accurately represents a set of highly focused people, some of which I work with on a regular basis.

The plot is focused and yet doesn't get us to the finish line without a few brief detours. I didn't like that the end of the book felt very rushed compared the rest. Maybe our author was up against a publisher's deadline. Maybe she just wanted it finished. I would have liked to see the last part of the book written with the same attention and detail that the rest of the book received.

Overall, I liked this book. I like the details of the setting and the characters' reactions to the setting. I liked the linear, but curved, plot line. This was an enjoyable read.

And in case you were wondering if I finished it less than three weeks... yes, I did.

I probably covered 40 or 45 miles on the treadmill during the time I read it. I don't know exactly how many miles it took me to finish it. I know how many miles I do each day. I just didn't keep track of how many days I was reading it.

Reading is just about the most enjoyable way to get my exercise!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome your thoughtful comments.