Sunday, February 12, 2012

The State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

cover image from LibraryThing
Let me tell you things come together in unexpected ways sometimes.  This is one of the books that I downloaded onto my Nook to read on our Mexican vacation.  What a great beach read it was!

This is the story of an unexpected journeys
       - from the cold of Minnesota to the wilds of Brazil
       - from the known sterile world of a pharmaceutical lab to the completely unpredictable world of 70 year old pregnant Brazilian women who gnaw on trees.
       -from the ordered life of Marina Singh failed gynecologist and clandestine lover of the company CEO to Dr. Annick Swenson the Amazonian queen of research

So - as I sat on the beach on my own journey I read about Marina and Dr. Swenson.  Marina, afraid of rocking the boat in so many ways and Swenson who not only will drive the boat, she will command anyone who touches the boat and perhaps burn them at the stake if they cause any problems. There could not be two more dissimilar characters.
As the paths of these two women intertwine - both in Marina's schooling and later at the research facility and finally in Brazil they take on one another's qualities...much to their dismay.

The story begins with a letter from Brazil announcing the death of Marina's research partner who has gone to Brazil to find out why it is taking Dr. Swenson so long to create a fertility drug from a tribe of women who still bear children in their 70s.   Marina is charged to go to Brazil to find Anders body and return it to his wife as well as check on the research.

As you would expect things don't go as they are expected to...there are cannibals, a hippie couple who hold unexpected information, a deaf child named Easter, and a jungle so full of insects that...well it gave me the creeps.

As Marina makes her way to the tribe - she is greeted with natives holding torches in the so happened that I read that part the day that we took an hour boat ride to a darkened island where the torches on the beach welcomed us...there were no critters, but it was an interesting moment.

I enjoyed the way this story spun itself slowly out.  There were so many hidden treasures and half truths that worked their way into the tale.  This was a good one.

Girl Who Played with Fire and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest By Stieg Larsson

Both these were page turners - in completely different ways.

cover image by LibraryThing
Lisbeth is the center of a police investigation in the Girl who Played with Fire.  It is an investigation into a double homicide and the gun has her fingerprints all over it.  As the police and the press search for a mentally unstable, lesbian, demon worshiper - Lisbeth quietly begins her own search for the killer. A search that pushes her friends to the limit - did she really kill these people, how well do they know Lisbeth, how far would she go?

How did she get involved???  The truth is a bit surprising - a series of unfortunate events you might even call it.  But - by then Lisbeth is deeply embroiled in the search for her own beginnings that she has to see it through.

This is one of those books that I hesitated to begin.  I really liked Lisbeth at the end of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I felt sorry for her and the way she was victimized and I didn't want the harassment to continue. So, I put off reading this second book.  I didn't want her at the mercy of her Advocate again.  Well...
Once I started reading her situation was much worse and much better than I had imagined.  I mean really - how could I feel like Lisbeth was a victim?  Her resilience is clear.  But in this book she begins to understand that her decisions have effects on her friends. In fact, it is in this book that she really decides she has friends at all.

cover image from LibraryThing
As The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest begins life for Lisbeth has been reduced to a hospital bed. This wonder woman is in terrible physical shape after being shot and buried alive. she is caught.

Then things take a mighty unexpected turn.  This is the installment that is all about strategy and planning and behind the scenes work.  The first two books were raw physical power.  This one is raw brain power... well sort of.

Lisbeth is charged with a series of crimes. Nothing impossible, just difficult.  But, the real maneuvering is in the government. A division of the secret police so secret that they have operated outside the law most of Lisbeth's life.  And they have now reconvened to take her down.

This is the book where Lisbeth really understands that she is not alone. She is probably her most vulnerable and her strongest in this one.  And I have to say it was my favorite. i really like all the finagling and rangling and planning.  I like the way Lisbeth evolves into a different character.  Maybe it's growing up - but I think it's much more because for the first time she is really not alone. REALLY not alone and we all know it.

These are amazing stories and many threads are still hanging.  What a story Stieg Larsson had to tell!!!