State of Wonder is a story that conveys a wonderful adventure of stunning scope and scenery. Marina Singh is sent into the isolated regions of the Rio Negro to investigate the death of one colleague and meet up with her former professor and team leader Dr Swenson. Dr Swenson has been pursuing a biologic drug candidate which could revolutionise treatment for women. The investors, funding the research, are keen to understand the details, but it is shrouded in secrecy. Will they ever get it out of the Amazon basin or will it remain another secret of the rainforest?
The narrative keeps us balanced between the wonders of the remote rainforests and the dangers ready to inflict damage at any moment. The wonderful writing creates imagery that enables us to step inside this world and see the expanse and allure of the rainforests, feel the humidity and atmosphere of the jungle, and get a sense of the hidden tribes in these regions. Many tribes have never engaged with the outside world and some are still cannibalistic, while others have accepted interactions with these strangers. Each tribe is very territorial with its own unique characteristics and secrets. There is a wonderful feeling of authenticity through the rituals and cultures as they dictate so much of the actions taken. Many are just so alien to our experiences.
I love the pace Ann Patchett delivers in her books that is gentle and flowing and just keeps you wanting to turn the pages. It is a brilliant engrossing story of exceptional insight and fantastic backdrop of the rainforest. I love Patchett’s writing style and I highly recommend this book.