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Book Review - State of Wonder

Bustle and Vim finds itself amidst a treasure of Guest Bloggers this season! Yay us!

My dear friend, Melissa, gave me State of Wonder by Ann Patchett with this review: "It's ... resplendent." Whatever is going on in my life, there is always room for resplendent.

State of Wonder tells the story of Dr. Marina Singh, a researcher for a pharmaceutical company, who must journey deep into the Amazon to find the rogue Dr. Swensen who may have discovered the cure for infertility!

Much thanks to Melissa for agreeing to review this book for the blog!

I am a fan of Ann Patchett and her writing including The Patron Saint of Liars and Bel Canto, so when State of Wonder popped up on the virtual Instagram book stacks of several influencers I follow, I googled it. A critic wrote that the book was resplendent. That is a strong adjective. I know because I looked it up. Resplendent means something is attractive and impressive through being richly colorful and sumptuous.


Yes, please. When I saw a copy at Half Price Books, I just knew this book and I were meant to be.

I finally plucked the book from my stack in June and began to dive into this amazing story. I admit, I pushed myself through the first 40 pages before I was completely invested, but once the story actually took me along to the Amazon, I was hooked. I loved the characters, especially Dr. Swenson. She completely cracked me up with her pragmatic humor and no nonsense manner throughout the book. How can a book seem so realistic and otherworldly all at the same time? Must be some Patchett magic, I guess. I just sat there shaking my head a number of times, processing the events of the previous chapter and trying to imagine what might come next. Most of the time I continued reading on, unable to wait to find out for myself.

The plot twists and unpredictability of all the characters, especially the protagonist (researcher Marina Singh), leave readers in a constant state of disbelief. For example, in the last moments of the book Marina does not do what I would do, nor does she do what I expected her to do after the time I spent getting to know her - but I have to say, what she does is somehow perfect and right. More of that Patchett magic, I guess.

In other words, I loved it. State of Wonder has it all - Saving the world, defying the limits of forgiveness and challenging the natural order of things, exploring the most foreign place I can imagine through written description and introducing the reader to some of the most interesting characters I can remember. Itʼs all there. Patchett is a gifted storyteller to be sure, and I am a big fan. I know this is true because I laughed and cried, and I felt a little sad when the book was finished. I reread whole sections to be sure I hadn't missed anything and I have subsequently purchased four additional copies of the book to share with friends and fellow readers - mostly so I can have others to talk to about this book. All while keeping a copy for myself so I can circle back to read it again one day. I very rarely do any of those things, so of course, I would recommend that you read this wonderful book ASAP.

It is that resplendent.

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