State of Wonder

Ann Patchett, acclaimed author of Bel Canto, has written another New York Times Bestseller. State of Wonder takes it's readers from the frigid pharmaceutical company in Minnesota into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The protagonist in this novel is research scientist Dr. Marina Singh. She is sent into the rainforest to find another researcher, Dr. Annick Swenson, who is working for the same company as her. There have been few reports from Dr. Swenson on her progress and she is for all purposes, impossible to track down. No one knows where she is, and the last person sent to get updates, Dr. Singh's colleague, Anders, died before he could return. The premise of the novel is interesting enough for any reader to want to pick it up, but what makes this novel sublime is the ability Patchett has to completely engross her readers in this foreign world yet still make it connectable. The juxtaposition of the beauty of this wondrous world and the dangers that lie underneath is another highlight of the novel. The only thing I didn't like was the hasty conclusion. Similar to Bel Canto, the climax of the action and adventure is just a few short pages from the ending, leaving much of the wrap-up and reactions to the big-reveal in short sentences that leave a little too much for the reader's imagination. Yet, it was an eye-opening look at two worlds, science and nature, colliding in a majestical environment. And, however much I didn't like the ending, State of Wonder was a fantastic novel that pulls you in and won't let you stop reading until the very end. Rating: ★★★★


Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

It takes a lot to destroy tradition, to uproot a society that has not changed for hundreds upon hundreds of years, yet, it can happen. Japanese society was largely un-influenced by Western society. Instead of submitting to Western imperialism, as China had, Japan became an imperial power. As the 20th century wore on, Japan grew stronger and stronger. Nonetheless, in World War II, Japan's enemy, namely the United States, destroyed the very bonds that had held Japan together since the beginning. Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe expresses the demise of the Japanese culture of self-protection into selfishness in his novel Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Also known as "Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring). A group of 15 reformatory boys are sent to live in a remote village in the Japanese mountains towards the end of the war. From their arrival to their abandonment to their community to their destruction, the boys are self-protective and attempt to hold on to their spirit of camaraderie that has been instilled in them since they were young. The reason that this novel is so interesting is because it is a reversal of roles; instead of the elders trying to salvage tradition, it is the kids. Instead of only fighting for their best interests, the boys stick together. Their self-protection creates a community in Japan similar to those found before the war "sent its mass insanity flooding into the convolutions of people's feelings" (26). The novel was translated into English by Paul St. John Mackintosh and Maki Sugiyama. It was Oe's first novel, written when he was only 23. He won the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature. It reminded me of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, yet it wasn't the same at all. I hope you enjoy reading it! Rating: ★★★★★


One Year!

I can't believe that it's been just a little over a year since I started (Welcome Post). Time flies! I've been pretty busy with schoolwork, so once its break or I have a lull in my tests, I will continue to update...