Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Format: Paperback

Pages: 408

Series: The Sparrow #1

Source: Library

Genres: Science Fiction

Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random House)

Publication date: September 8th 1997 (first published January 1st 1996) 

There is a difference between being responsible and being culpable

First impression

When I first finished this book I needed some time to re gather my ideas. I fell for the narrative and continued reading because at every step of the book the typical interpretation of things is questioned. How relationships are built and what makes a sentient society. How we define culture and friendship and abuse. The end (no spoilers, don't worry) of Sandoz's story made me cringe uncomfortably mostly because it made so much sense and the sorrow and hatred he had developed suddenly fell right in place with all the context. While I liked this book in general, I cannot bring myself to go for the sequel. 

It's like all sickness [...] His heart desires something he cannot have

Final thoughts

The Sparrow jumps from different time points: Early in time the discovery of extraterrestrial life and the quest to find it in person and in the future the story told by the only survivor who makes it back to Earth, Emilio Sandoz. He is a changed man and through the book we learn what type of person he was before joining priesthood, while on Earth and after traveling to Rakhat.

As I advanced in the book I noticed that I just needed to know more about each character, even if at first they would feel secondary to the story; while I admit that the beginning was quite a slow start for me, once the pace picked up I was passing pages like there was no tomorrow.

My favorite characters were by far were Anne and George Edwards, not only as a couple (a very nice and complex couple) but as individuals they were so interesting. How I would love to have dinner parties like theirs all the time! Imagine the fun of it. I cannot say that there was a character that I didn't like, even the priest (and I just forgot his name) that was so against Sandoz. Because all of the characters come from such different backgrounds, they add to the complexity of the team in an intricate way that for me at least made it even more involving and more touching as I learned more about them.

I absolutely loved the way the author deals with the subjects of faith, love, friendship and off course, culture. Particularly when presented with the 2 main alien groups. Unlike a lot of other reviewers, I didn’t cry but I have to admit that it was a very emotionally charged book, for all the subjects I mentioned before. Every character that left the story did it in a way that you would remember them.

More than a religion questioning, I feel the main point of the book is an anthropological question. That said, and as interesting as I found this first installment, I can’t find it in me to go for the sequel. I keep feeling that The Sparrow moved me as much as it could and it genuinely scares me to ruin the experience if the sequel doesn’t live up to expectations. I would recommend this book for fans of Science Fiction with a lot of philosophical questioning behind.

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