I was prepared to enjoy State of Wonder just as much as I had Bel Canto — but I was disappointed. Not that the setting, the Amazonian jungle, is not mysteriously and alluringly rendered. Not that the premise, which involves an obscure and wonderful Amazonian medicinal compound, a passionate researcher gone native in more than one way, a missing scientist, and the colleague who is sent to investigate, is not uniquely intriguing. Not that the characters are not pictured with multiple layers of feelings and thoughts. All that is wonderful, and I did find myself at times completely engulfed in the story and the jungle atmosphere.
But without giving away the plot entirely, I just could not accept the mechanics of it. How would a prosperous pharmaceutical company accept that a wayward researcher not give any status update for years? How would the company send not one, but two scientists to find her, armed with little more than a credit card and a vague idea of where she might live? And could the president of said company, alarmed when the second scientist fails to return, pay a personal visit at that point without any entourage, only to leave her, the second scientist, behind when he leaves after just a couple of days, despite the obviously fraught environment and the little detail that she also happens to be his girlfriend? The details just do not compute and greatly hindered my ability to lose myself in the otherwise perfect setting of the story and the complicated relationships between the characters.