March 1, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (audiobook): Review

Pin It

I've never read anything by Ann Patchett before. Nope, nothing, which is weird because she seems to be a Big Deal. Anyway after I read Andi's review of State of Wonder and noticed that the library had it as an audiobook, I'd thought I'd give it a shot.

Marina is hoofing it to the jungles of the Amazon to find out how of her friend and colleague, Anders Eckman, spent his last days on earth. Poor Anders got a fever while tracking down a reclusive researcher Dr Annick Swenson, who refuses to talk to anyone, including her boss, about the fertility drug she's working on. There is a tree the natives eat the bark of that keeps them fertile until they die of old age. The thought of being 70 and having babies gave me the willies but drug company Vogel execs have dollar signs in their eyes. Not only does Marina have to get Anders' body home, she has to check on Dr Swenson as well.

I won't say much more about the plot other than to tell you Marina finds out a lot more once she's knee deep in mosquitoes. 

The story takes some interesting twists and turns as Marina pushes her way into Dr Swenson's world. Her view of things changes and I found my own view of things changing as well. I was surprised by this and didn't realize how I felt until some other characters show up near the end. It was sneaky of Patchett.

I loved the setting; I felt like I was there in the jungle with the heat and the itchy bugs. The story was darn near perfect until near the end when the plot went wonky and some people did some things I did not approve of. Also, there were a lot of questions left unanswered. Generally, I like this but I needed at least some ends tied up and I thought there should have been another chapter or two in there. One other issue I had was Dr Swenson who was nearly robotic in her interactions with people. Yes, you are an important science person now but didn't anyone hug you as a child? I wanted to ask. Yikes, she was heartless at times. I did, eventually, warm up to her a bit and could see why people treated her like a god. She sort of expected it. 

It took awhile to really get going but once it did I really enjoyed it despite some of my misgivings by the end.

About the Audio: I don't have any luck with Mp3s. They always sound muffly, just like this one did. WMAs are fine but so far Mp3s have been stinky. Interesting to note that I play all Mp3s through the Overdrive App and WMAs are just files on my Ipod. 

I also wasn't in love with the production (Harper Audio). There was a strange back of the throat thing going on with the narrator and some odd pauses that could have been edited out. Hope Davis, the narrator, read well, though she sounded tired, but those other things were distracting. I probably would have enjoyed it more as a printed book.

12 comments :

  1. oh this sounds good. I very recently read Bel Canto which was excellent and had a great setting and I can see why shes so popular.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I didn't care for Bel Canto so I haven't been itching to get to this one. What you mentioned with the narration would bother me though. Back of the throat stuff and awkward pauses? Not for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I kept involuntarily clearing my throat in sympathy.

      Delete
  3. I've never read Patchett either, but I think the way you described it sounds like it would be very interesting to me. Thanks for the great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Give it a try, Col. You might enjoy it.

      Delete
  4. I would say overall I can look back on this one fondly. I am glad I read it, even though I had some quibbles. Glad it worked well for you once it got going!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, once she got to the jungle things went a little faster.

      Delete
  5. This one started out with a bang for me, then dragged in the middle and I wasn't crazy about the ending. Overall, it was a pretty good read for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't crazy about that ending either.

      Delete
  6. I've been wondering about this one on audio--glad you mentioned the production as I think I'll opt for the paper version now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is on the someday list...but I'll be avoiding the audio version!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting! Please leave a comment. I've disabled Anonymous comments since I've had a barrage of Anon spam lately. Sorry about that.
Also, if you leave a legit comment but it contains a spammy link, it will not be published.

nrelate