Wednesday, October 03, 2012
First Wednesday Book Review Club: State Of Wonder
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
I cannot say I found this an entirely successful outing for one of my favorite writers. This is the story of a trip by a female scientist to a primitive part of the world. And the best part of the book is the evocation of that world. How alien it seems to us. And to Dr. Singh. Snakes, rats, cannibals, disease, drugs that are almost as difficult as the problems they solve. It is part of her assignment.
When a scientist for a pharmaceutical company disappears, his death is assumed, and another employee is sent to check on the details. The company is investigating the ability of a group of natives to both resist malaria and to have babies into their seventies. The second ability has the most cache for the company. Dr. Singh meets up with an early nemesis--the doctor who presided over her failure as a gynecologist. Now she is part of the research taking place in this remote place.
I found much of this book interesting, but I have to say the characters seemed more like voices for the moral quandary the doctor finds herself in than fully fleshed out characters. There is far too much discussion of the morality of scientific research to fully engage the reader. And yet, I finished the book so it had to have something. Maybe you will find it too.