Mary Doria Russell - The Sparrow

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Posted by Sulkyblue (21st Apr 2005, 12:40)

This is a beautifully written and absolutely compelling and will feature highly in my all time favourite book list. I can't remember the last book I read that had such a large number of characters who were so amazingly realistic and fascinating. The depth of these characters is so great that it's actually painful to read when you know from the very outset that most of them are doomed, I spent most of the book dreading what would happen while being completely unable to put it down. It's rare that a book told in the flip-flop past/present method actually works without making you impatient for more speed however Russell maintains interest by contrasting present characters with their origins and having some of the actual storytelling told by the characters in the present, particularly powerful for the final punch of the storyline. The story is fascinating with mystery, drama, romance and tragedy all with a marvelous humour spread over it. Despite knowing from the start that certain things are going to happen, I didn't find a single part of the book that dragged or didn't do something interesting and unexpected.

I was originally doubtful of the religious aspects, but this really is not a book about religion, rather it is about faith. The discussions are frank and fascinating with characters representing all sorts of opinions and frequently realising that everyone is right. Likewise it's not really a book about science-fiction, it just uses science fiction as a framework to explore various issues.

About item:

- The Sparrow

Related items:

- Children Of God

About author:

- Russell, Mary Doria

Related authors:

- Russell, Mary Doria

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read biography for - bigbob

 bigbob ( 21st Apr 2005, 13:16, Rank: Psycho Historian )  reply

>Likewise it's not really a book about science-fiction, it just uses science fiction as a framework to explore various issues.

as any really decent sf book should

read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 21st Apr 2005, 13:36, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

well, yes. fair point. That was a particularly dumb comment of mine I suppose ;0)

read biography for - karne

 karne ( 22nd Apr 2005, 11:20, Rank: GSV )  reply

It's not SF?! Well it could be written as historical fiction I suppose (missionaries vs cannibals) but I don't see how else it could be set.

read biography for - karne

 karne ( 22nd Apr 2005, 11:23, Rank: GSV )  reply

Here's a question: did you have less or more sympathy for the human team as the book went on?

For myself I rapidly lost ot as I realised how much what happened was the result of their own blinkered thinking.

read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 22nd Apr 2005, 18:01, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

I don't think I really lost sympathy for the humans during the first book at all. Maybe because nothing they did seemed wrong to me either, beyond the very concept of setting foot on the planet in the first place. Maybe without the knowledge of doom hanging over the story I would have been less sympathetic and have a greater attitude of 'duh'. I didn't actually realise what their terminal mistake was until it was pointed out to me, maybe that was me being slow, but they didn't really lose my sympathy because I knew they meant well.

The focus on the characters themselves and skimming over the mission prep and any real debate over whether they *should* go or not, meant that I never really actively thought about the morals of landing on the planet until after the event. I had a much greater irritation and even anger over that reading the 2nd book.

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