Didn’t trip my trigger

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
After having read several positive reviews, I’d begun seeing ominous headlines about this book—things like “Mixed reviews causing greater buzz.” Stuff like that. So I figured, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book. But I was wrong about that.
I read this book, and I liked it plenty. But also I was bothered by it. All at the same time.
On the positive side, I was pulled into this story from the start, and I didn’t want to put it down. Now, I must confess that “unputdownable” is a word I also would apply to The Da Vinci Code. It doesn’t mean the book is amazingly stupendously good; it simply means that I found it hard to put down.
And I had no quarrel with the characters, who were reasonably realistic and well-drawn. Sure, there’s a clear villain you love to hate, but later on, the “good” characters pull some vile moves themselves, so there’s enough ambiguity to keep it real.
And Patchett writes you right into the setting, so that was fine, too.
No, my big problem was with the plot, which seemed just way too farfetched… to the point that I told myself, “You are reading a work of speculative fiction here. Go with it.” Yeah, that didn’t work.
So yes, I am a hypocritical reader. The very same plot that kept me turning the pages with a compulsion also drove me to distraction with its oh-too-convenient twists and turns.
Basically, here’s the set-up: Anders Eckman is sent to the Amazon to check on the biomedical research progress of the intractable and incomunicada Dr. Swenson, who is working on a fertility drug. Swenson sends word that Eckman died, so his office partner, Dr. Marina Singh (who’s also the drug company CEO’s lover), heads down there to find out what happened, despite the fact that she had a horrible prior episode with Dr. Swenson. And all hell hatches.
Doggone it all.
Ann Patchett’s earlier novels—Bel Canto, which is one of my favorite book discussion books, and Run, which is simply one of my favorite books ever—set the bar frightfully high. And State of Wonder just didn’t clear it.

2 thoughts on “Didn’t trip my trigger

  1. I'm sorry to hear this. I, too, loved Bel Canto & Run and the review of this one from the NYT had me really excited. You make some points that I can see being the case for me as well, and while I'm still going to read it, but my excitement has been tempered a bit.

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