I had high expectations for State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I loved Bel Canto and thought that Run was an entertaining read. Maybe that was the problem.
Let me back up just a bit.
The premise of State of Wonder is this: Marina Singh, who works as a researcher for a large pharmaceutical company, is asked to travel to the Amazon when the company receives word that one of its employees, Anders Eckman, has died under unclear circumstances. In order to clarify what happened, Marina must locate Dr. Annick Swenson, a gynecologist who has spent years studying a tribe whose women have been able to give birth into their late 70's with the hopes of obtaining the secret to extended fertility. Anders was sent to Brazil to gauge the progress of Dr. Swenson's work after she failed to send regular progress updates.
The reader comes to learn that Marina's and Dr. Swenson's paths have crossed in the past. And Marina is romantically involved with someone at the company. And she acts as the liasion between the company and Anders' distraught family. And she must deal with a whole cast of characters that await her in Brazil, not to mention the diseases, insects and other challenges that await her in the jungle.
Much like in the other books I've read by Ann Patchett, I appreciated the character development in this book. I cared about or was interested in a lot of them, particularly Marina and Dr. Swenson, but some seemed like extras on a movie. There was so much going in in the plot that it was as if Patchett kept adding characters and trying to flesh them out just to move the complicated plot along and get to the end. I was left wishing that she would've found other ways to reveal some of the characters' traits rather than adding in more people and storylines. I will, however, be left thinking about the details she imbued into the story, particularly the descriptions of the jungle, for some time to come.