State of Wonder is an astonishing novel. As I read, I kept wondering how Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto) came up with the novel and then how she pulled it off so well. The story is gripping, the characters are compelling, the themes are thought-provoking, and long after you’re done reading you’ll still be thinking about all of the layers and questions the book poses. In short, this book is well worth your time and will probably be one of my favorites for this year.
The book unfolds a multi-layered but beautifully composed story about medical research in the Amazon, parent-child and student-teacher relationships, the origins and acceptable uses and procurement of pharmaceuticals, and how all of this ties in to ethics and the broader questions of how and when ends justify means. State of Wonder is fascinating at every single turn.
I think Patchett is an amazing writer, and State of Wonder does not disappoint. Given the subject matter, she does a masterful job of explaining the intricacies and multiple viewpoints of what can too easily be seen only through the lenses of capitalism, medical efficacy, or environmentalism. Moreover, the book uses those complex issues to explore an even more universal question about when or if wonderful ends ever justify questionable means.
State of Wonder is an excellent, compelling, and engaging novel and I highly recommend it.
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