blogged about here) is a great writer who can manage a complicated story with the right mixture of action and explication, create sympathetic, compelling characters, and explore unknown territory with vigor and excitement.
State of Wonder describes a Heart of Darkness type journey, with the Amazon standing in for the Congo and a renegade doctor, Annick Swenson, as Kurtz. Charles Marlow is transformed into Marina Singh, a pharmaceutical researcher sent by her employer in Minnesota to Swenson’s research station in Brazil. Marina is charged with discovering the answers to several mysteries, including what happened to Anders Eckman, the man originally sent to find Dr. Swenson, and what, exactly, is taking Dr. Swenson so long to finish her promised research. What is she up to out there in the jungle? And why is she so reluctant to communicate with her sponsors? The answers to some of these questions provide unanticipated plot developments that kept me reading late into the night.
Marina, unprepared and alone, must navigate a complex web of social and environmental obstacles to find Swenson and figure out what’s going on. Some of these obstacles include a complicated past history with Swenson, who was a former teacher of Marina’s; Swenson’s recalcitrant gatekeepers (a hippy dippy Australian couple); a journey up the Amazon river; and crushing heat, insects, snakes, native tribe members with poisoned arrows, and psychedelic mushrooms. I really enjoyed the tension and sense of adventure that this book offers. It’s a great combination of relationship story and action novel.
(Book 23, 2011)