Book Review: State of Wonder

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

Holy crap, now that was a BOOK.

First of all, let me say that whoever designed this book cover and chose this title should be taken out and beaten upside the head.  Awful.  The only reasons I picked this up to read it is because after I scanned the “Lucky Day” section at my local library and found NOTHING else I half heartedly threw it in my bag, and then Swistle told me to read it, and you should know that I pretty much just do whatever Swistle tells me to do.  It had been sitting on my nightstand for a week and I had no real intention of actually reading it, I was just utterly defeated by the beige cover and the beige title anytime I even thought of reading it, and it doesn’t help that the front flap blurb reads something along the lines of “life journey boring mumbo jumbo finding herself exploring the nature of life time and the existence of man boring boring boring life journey mumble cakes”.  That and the fact that the author’s previous work, Bel Canto, was such an intense slog that I place it in the sacred trifecta of “everyone sure does seem to love it an awful lot  but GODAMN is it boring” books.  The other two titles in that short list are Angela’s Ashes and Memoirs of  Geisha, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, I read State of Wonder in about two minutes because I could not put it down, and man, it was INSANE.  The jungle is written about with such force and intensity that it exists as nearly an entire character on its own, and it’s like you’re right there with these crazy native people and giant snakes and blow darts and malaria and the mind melting heat and people are having babies all over the place and it’s got these twists and turns and I don’t know, it’s been a long time since I went on such a crazy ride with a book and yet it all made sense and was beautiful and amazing and it made me think and I am still sad it’s over and all I can say, again, is Holy Crap, that is a BOOK.  And you should read it so we can talk about it.

And P.S. I am NEVER going to the jungle.

13 Responses

  1. I loved this book, too. However, I was disappointed there wasn’t more jungle – it took so darned long to GET to the jungle. Still….. It was a wild ride once she finally got there!

  2. I had mixed feelings about that book. The writing is great but…i don’t know, i did not love it.

  3. I need some book ideas for the 18 hour flight I’m about to take to visit your cousin in HK. They need to be long and serious page turners. I’ll put this on my list.

  4. I loved it too! SO intense and the ending – whoah the ending – was actually really satisfying! And not cheesy! (At least I didn’t think so.)

  5. I just read Run by Ann Pratchett last week, and I felt the same way about it! I got it from the e library for my Nook on a whim, but it was so very good.

  6. First Swistle recommends it and now YOU? How can I not read this book? It sounds very mysterious but also awesome.

  7. YES. Yes. I am NEVER going to the jungle. The first bug bit Marina in the city NEAR the jungle and I was already “Never mind.”

    Even now that I’ve read the book, I STILL don’t know what the title thinks it’s referring vaguely/profoundly to.

    • My “I am never going to the jungle” moment came when she said that she had learned to sweep at the bugs rather than smack them because otherwise you kind of mooshed them further into your skin. I really want someone to interview her and ask her what that title means. I need to know!

  8. I loved this book, but I have to tell you, I loved the cover, too. I just thought it was pretty.

  9. That’s THREE recommendations now, from you, Swistle and Catherine Newman, so… definitely going to get read. But for what it’s worth, I already knew I was never going to the jungle. NEEEEVEEEER.
    Also, I personally liked Bel Canto, but lent it to my brother in law, who usually shares me taste in books, and he was literally PISSED at me, so much did he hate it. And he stopped reading three fourths of the way through, something that he has actually never done before in his LIFE. So. Clearly it’s a love it or hate it thing.

  10. We are totally book twins. I felt just the same seeing my mom reading this book, but I am downloading it to my Kindle now.

    Did you ever read Love Walked In?

  11. I am in complete, COMPLETE agreement about Bel Canto. I just don’t get it. So I was pretty afraid of this book. I’ll have to check it out, since we have similar feelings on Bel Canto.

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