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Extended Audio Sample State of Wonder: A Novel Audiobook, by Ann Patchett Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (66,968 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ann Patchett Narrator: Hope Davis Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2011 ISBN: 9780062072498
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Ann Patchett raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.

Research scientist Dr. Marina Singh is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared in the Amazon while working on an extremely valuable new drug. The last person who was sent to find her died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding answers to the questions about her friend’s death, her company's future and her own past.

Once found, Dr. Swenson is as imperious and uncompromising as ever. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself and will ultimately ask of Marina.

State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness and then shows us what lies on the other side.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Outlandishly entertaining…[with] a brilliantly constructed plot.”


  • “The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane—from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman’s hair.” 

    O, the Oprah Magazine 

  • “A thrilling new novel…The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid…Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects and your own head will still be hot.”

    More magazine

  • “Emotionally lucid…Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle.” 

    New Yorker

  • “Packs a textbook’s worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story…Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “An engaging, consummately told tale.”

    New York Times

  • “This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer.”

    Washington Post

  • “Extraordinary…Is there nothing the prodigiously talented Ann Patchett can’t do? . . . Patchett’s last knockout pages proceed full-speed ahead, with more twists and turns and treachery than the Amazon River. Nothing is as it seems, and the ending is as shocking as it’s satisfying.”

    Boston Globe

  • “The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously…The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won’t end.”


  • “Patchett is a master storyteller who has an entertaining habit of dropping ordinary people into extraordinary and exotic circumstances to see what they’re made of. In this expansive page-turner…Patchett’s fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure, a juggernaut of a trip to the crossroads of science, ethics, and commerce that readers will hate to see end.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A superbly rendered novel…Patchett’s portrayal is as wonderful as it is frightening and foreign. Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn…Powerful and captivating.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett. . . . Thrilling, disturbing, and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett’s breakthrough Bel Canto.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “The audiobook equivalent of ‘couldn’t put it down’ must be ‘couldn’t pause it.’ There was little pause time during this reviewer’s amazing experience of Patchett’s new novel. Hope Davis astutely paces the suspenseful odyssey from a sedate Minnesota pharmaceutical lab to the darkest Amazonian jungle…Davis intuits each of the powerful personas…[and] expresses a vivid vocal range of ages, as well as Australian, German, and Brazilian accents. Patchett’s exquisite prose immerses the listener through the novel’s striking climax, which shatters the jungle’s ferociously guarded mysteries. Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • A 2011 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 NPR Best Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Winner of the 2012 Audie Award
  • A Bookpage Most Anticipated Book of 2011
  • Shortlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction
  • Finalist for the 2011 Wellcome Trust Book Prize for Fiction
  • The #1 BookPage Best Book of 2011
  • Selected for the June 2011 Indie Next List
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2011
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • One of Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book in 2011 for Fiction
  • An Amazon Best Books of the Year in 2011 for Fiction
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michele | 2/20/2014

    " This was such a good book and I would've given it 5-stars had it not been for the ending, which was a bit disappointing to me. Definitely still worth the read though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 James | 2/18/2014

    " IN an age of cell phones, ubiquitous GPS devices, computers of every size and shape we have here a novel that opens with an aerogram letter reporting the mysterious death in the jungles of Brazil of a scientist employed by a pharmaceutical company of presumably substantial size. This event left me as the reader of a story about employees of a global enterprise in the twenty-first century in a state of wonder that strained my credulity. The ensuing story tells of a search, by another research scientist, Marina Singh, who at the request of the President of the company goes to the jungle of Brazil, somewhere beyond Manaus, to find out the details of the death of the scientist, Dr. Anders Eckman, and also report on the status of a mysterious research project led by Marina's one-time teacher, Dr. Annick Swenson, who has been in the jungle for decades purportedly looking for a miraculous drug. The journey of Marina and its outcome comprise the majority of this sometimes tedious and often improbable novel. She is sent on her journey by Mr. Fox, the CEO of the pharmaceutical company, who is something of a cypher. The best aspect of the novel is the ease in reading the prose which allowed me to read it quickly, for I did not want to linger in the omnipresent heat of the Amazonian jungle, with its insects, spiders, bats, snakes, and poisonous plants, for any longer than necessary. Marina often, practically every night, escaped into a dream world that was often nightmarish and may have helped her bear the difficult environment. Her dreams and her personal psychological issues, while making her a more sympathetic character, added to my wonder at her willingness to stay with Dr. Swenson. The story is reminiscent of Conrad's Heart of Darkness in outline only, for it has none of the depth of philosophic or moral emphasis found in that book. Here we have in Dr. Swenson merely a nasty person ruling over her jungle fiefdom with an iron fist. I was hoping that my experience reading State of Wonder would be better than that I had reading Patchett's earlier creation Bel Canto; but I my hope did not bear fruition leaving me in a state of wonder where other readers find the enjoyment in her novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily | 2/8/2014

    " The plot just did not keep my attention. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becky | 2/4/2014

    " Amazing. Could not put it down. Fast moving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 2/1/2014

    " Very interesting; well written. A woman scientist goes to the amazon to find the dead body of her friend and lives with a community of women who are very fertile even into old age because they eat the bark of a special tree. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Olivia | 1/22/2014

    " Well-written, but the pace is quite slow. I was expecting to be riveted the whole time and that was not the case. The story is interesting, just keep your expectations low regarding the amount of action in the plot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barb | 1/21/2014

    " Couldn't make it through Bel Canto, but really liked this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leora | 1/18/2014

    " Couldn't stop listening. Compelling writing . But I ultimate ly felt cheated. Still think het best book was Thw Magician'sWife. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 1/17/2014

    " Interesting characters and story line, but it left me feeling like parts were put in to make the reader a bit disoriented, though maybe this is part of the author's purpose. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Neufeldt | 1/14/2014

    " What a fascinating tale of a woman, a mysterious primitive place, medicine, intrigue, love, and loyalty!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Olivia | 1/12/2014

    " A good read and something new if you liked Bel Canto (Patchett's other book). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 1/8/2014

    " I agree it was a bit slow going to start. I enjoyed the story although I think I've come across a similar story in my past . The author seemed to end this book as if a sequel is to come. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne Pistacchio | 1/6/2014

    " I didn't love this book but I liked it enough. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Anothermattking | 1/1/2014

    " A waste of a tree. And ink. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Courtney Chase | 12/14/2013

    " I sorta felt like I wasn't 'getting' it. Like a bad poem. Are you not getting it or is it just not that deep? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 12/11/2013

    " Not her best work: lots of threads that were brought up then dropped or unnecessary plot lines. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joanna | 9/20/2013

    " Unexpected ending! Great imagery of the Amazon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kirsti | 3/19/2013

    " 2.5 stars. Very slow start, some interesting character development, and then several very exciting plot twists. Ultimately unbelievable, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marti Campbell | 2/2/2013

    " Looking forward to discussing it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky Noble | 1/10/2013

    " Loved the picture she paints of the setting for this book - the Amazon rain forest. Worth the read for that alone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shg | 12/27/2012

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this book but felt the plot's end wrapped up too quickly. Very engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 10/28/2012

    " read for book group. good conversation book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristy Noel | 4/8/2012

    " I actually really enjoyed this book. It was recommended to me by a coworker and at first I didn't think I would like it but it was actually a very touching story with a bunch of twists and turns. I especially loved the ending even though it left me a little sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diana | 1/23/2012

    " The book was good overall, but I found the ending to be lacking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 6/30/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book - love reading about the Amazonian rain forests. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie | 6/29/2011

    " Beautifully written, although I found the first half to be slow at times, I couldn't put the rest down. In retrospect, I should have seen a lot of the surprises coming, but the twists and turns make it a good read, along with the descriptions of the setting and characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 6/29/2011

    " Enjoyed the read... had enough to keep me turning pages "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gail | 6/29/2011

    " Whew. I really loved "Bel Canto", but I'm going to have to think about this one for a while. Three and 1/2 stars so far... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 6/29/2011

    " Loved this! I couldn't put it down, Patchett's best novel yet by far ... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nichole | 6/29/2011

    " My favorite author has written another engrossing, beautifully written novel. I loved every second of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 6/29/2011

    " What a perfect book to read to bring the memories of being in the rainforest last summer flooding back. wonderful, vivid descriptions, interesting story, and thoughtful ethical questions all included. I loved it and wished I hadn't finished it so quickly! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Felicia | 6/28/2011

    " An excellent trip to "the heart of darkness" with Marina Singh, the American protagonist journeying to the Amazon and the sense of her self. Highly interesting and entertaining. "

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About the Author
Author Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is the author of several previous novels including The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; and The Magician’s Assistant. She has written for many publications including the New York Times, Atlantic, the Washington Post, and Vogue. She lives in Nashville.

About the Narrator

Hope Davis, an actress and Earphones Award–winning narrator, has starred in more than twenty feature films, including Arlington Road, American Splendor, and Next Stop Wonderland. Also an accomplished stage actress, she earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the Broadway play God of Carnage. She was voted Best Actress in 2003 by the New York Film Critics.