This had enough plot twists to keep me guessing and enough description of the Amazon jungle and its tribes to keep me interested even while nothing much was happening. I liked it better than Run, but I read Bel Canto so long ago that I can't compare it to that (although I remember also liking Bel Canto better than Run).
In State of Wonder, Dr. Marina Singh is a scientist - a former doctor-in-training - who goes to the Amazon jungle to confirm the unexpected death of her colleague and to get an update on a drug that Dr. Swenson (her former teacher) has been developing for years. Along the way, she loses her luggage two times, battles maternal urges, and learns to practice medicine with almost no supplies. She also learns a surprising truth about the medicine under development and its implications. There are cannibals, a battle to the death between a snake and a human, poison arrows, live births, still births, and hallucinogenic mushrooms and tree bark with mysterious properties, not to mention lies galore (both implicit and explicit) and screaming nightmares. There's also a love story or two thrown in for good measure, as well as some footloose and fancy-free bohemians. What's not to love? I read this in the summer and enjoyed it, but it would also be a good book for the icy months of winter since it's set in a hot, tropical climate.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Harper, 2011)
My rating: 4 stars