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Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  10,506 Ratings  ·  1,222 Reviews
In today’s Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA’s m ...more
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Scribner
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Jenny I've read both Red Sparrow and Palace of Treason, and it's difficult for me to figure out why anyone would give either of them less than 5 stars. I…moreI've read both Red Sparrow and Palace of Treason, and it's difficult for me to figure out why anyone would give either of them less than 5 stars. I read a lot in this genre, and just about every other author pales in comparison. (less)
Pavel V Zaychik Palace of treason, a real masterpiece. I read it first, before getting the copy of "Red Sparrow". I'm native Russian speaker and can appreciate…morePalace of treason, a real masterpiece. I read it first, before getting the copy of "Red Sparrow". I'm native Russian speaker and can appreciate Jason's mastering of complex Russian expressions, capturing (as very few could) of the meaning of some of the most difficult ones. Five star(less)
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783 books — 865 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 25, 2014 Kemper rated it really liked it
Maybe we Americans were just a little bit hasty when we said that we won the Cold War? ‘Cause it’s seeming more and more like that we were really just leading at halftime.

Modern Russia with Vladimer Putin running the show is essentially the Soviet Union with a better public relations department, and the old spy games between their Foreign Intelligence Service and the American Central Intelligence Agency are back with a vengeance. Young and ambitious CIA officer Nate Nash is the Moscow handler o
Jul 09, 2014 Trudi rated it really liked it
Recommended to Trudi by: Kemper

Think the Cold War is over? Think again.

I'd always had somewhere in me (I mean, really, who doesn't?) an interest in Soviet history and everything Red Army, KGB, Iron Curtain, and Gulag. It's one of the greatest stories ever told after all -- the rise and fall of a mighty and murderous political and geographic monolith that aggressively absorbed many nations and languages and religions into its insatiable machinery in a quest for ultimate global supremacy. A nerve-wracking Cold War entrenchment
Bob Milne
Jan 18, 2013 Bob Milne rated it really liked it
Like the coldest, most diligent of intelligence officers, I have been patiently sitting on the secrets of this book for nearly 6 months now. I was quick to accept when Simon & Schuster Canada proposed the mission - to review, and to be a part of the tour - and gave it a read almost as soon as the ARC arrived on my doorstep. It reminded me of the cold-war espionage thrillers I read growing up, and I drafted my review right away, while the source material was still fresh in my brain, safe from ...more
Sono d’accordo con il critico del NYT Charles Cumming: inserire Putin tra i personaggi di questo romanzo è un errore, in qualche modo ne mina la credibilità – come lo sono le ricette gastronomiche a chiusura di ogni capitolo, tranne l’ultimo, sia perché smontano la suspense sia perché la ricetta più leggera è pari a diecimila calorie.
È vero però, proprio come scrive Charles Cumming, che questi sono errori marginali.
L’errore vero è tutto il resto, a cominciare dal considerare questo
How to do The Mendacious: Dec 2015

... and Trump is great, Blatter should get the Nobel, so what if we lied about being in Ukraine and such a shame that black box was broken but the economy is doing well...

Description: In today’s Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is
Heather Fineisen
While I was reading this, I kept going back to my Goodreads account and looking at the reviews, perplexed, but coaxed to keep reading. I finally came to the conclusion that this is one of those books that appealed to most, but not to me. Dominika is a training to be a Red Sparrow, a Russian female seductress agent, and she also has the gift of synthesia, or seeing colors in an aura around people that reflects their spirit, a mood ring sort of thing. Promising. Where the author lost me is the sex ...more
Aug 21, 2013 Esteban rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I very nearly despaired of finishing this book a couple of times.

In one review they compared this book to John Le Carre, I don't think so! That was the MAIN reason I picked it up and gave it a go.

So slow, so boring, so full of words that said almost nothing. Sometimes you get a book very rich in words which tells a rich story, this was not the case, it gave me the impression of the author's infatuation with his capacity to link words in sentences, then in paragraphs, pages, chapters and so on.
Apr 03, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 Stars -- Definitely Worth Reading But You'll Need To Be Patient With It

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review, which follows.

I am an avid reader of thrillers and am particularly of espionage thrillers. So, I figured that Red Sparrow would be "right up my alley." However,the book's slow pace during the first hundred pages orso kept me undecided as to whether I was liking it or not. This is because it took me awhile to get used to the
Marty Fried
Mar 05, 2017 Marty Fried rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this a lot. It's a real spy vs spy story with Russians against Americans in fairly modern-day times, with Putin as the Russian president. It's mainly about recruiting moles for each side, with a twist of two spies trying to recruit each other. To make it more interesting, one is a beautiful Russian spy who is very capable. She started out as a dancer, but a competitor knocked her out of that, by breaking her leg. Her uncle was a high-ranking spy, and when she wanted to become a spy, he ...more
Jul 13, 2013 Darren rated it did not like it
Awful Writing and No Command of Fiction Craft

I abandoned this book after 90 pages. I don't care if the plot eventually improved; the writing is terrible. For one, there is a lot of needless description. He describes plateware and names the fancy cologne a character is wearing. Who cares? Don't waste my time with the research you did on trivial nonsense. He even describes an airport terminal as containing shops and restaurants. Really? Why waste words on describing an airport? We all know what th
Jun 06, 2015 Meredith rated it it was amazing
Captivating spy novel with some romance mixed in. I highly recommend. I can't wait to read the Palace of Treason.
Jul 07, 2013 Skip rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
4.5 stars. An excellent spy thriller. To quote the NY Times: "there hasn’t been a first-rate American spy novelist who claims to have worked as an intelligence officer ... until now ... he has turned his considerable knowledge of espionage into a startling debut." A newly trainer Russian spy, Dominika Egorova, is supposed to recruit Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer, handling the Agency’s most important Russian mole. However, she is an independent thinker and refuses to do as she is told. Well ...more
Jul 21, 2013 Cullen rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, since I feel like I've exhausted all the great espionage and this was getting a lot of buzz because the author is former CIA. I made it just past the halfway point before I had to give up.

The initial 100 page of setup was a struggle because virtually every paragraph about the heroine mentions how sexy she is. Then she goes to sex school to really sex up her sexiness. She also has a nearly magical power to read peoples emotions and intentions, which the author
Jul 09, 2013 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
What do spies really do in the real world? They really spend their time recruiting another country's government employees, soldiers, officers or those with access to its secrets to work against their own national interests for the spy's country. Sometimes the spy lures in a potential asset with money. Sometimes a potential asset comes to a country with secrets because of his agenda or because the secrets are perceived to be destabilizing. There are many reasons to betray one's country. To the US ...more
Max Rudenko
Jun 19, 2013 Max Rudenko rated it really liked it
I almost never write reviews but I had to write one for the Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews. Regretfully, grudgingly, I'm giving this book 4 stars although many parts of this book deserve solid 5 stars. This is a very good espionage thriller, superbly written in a literary sense, with riveting, sometimes even mesmerizing plot, strong characters, either positive or negative, and appropriate, well-timed insertions of humor. In a word, all what in my opinion any good book should have. All this evoked ...more
Jim Leffert
Oct 07, 2013 Jim Leffert rated it it was amazing
People often praise a book by saying “I couldn’t put it down”. My experience is that the better books are the ones that I’m not tempted to plow through in a single sitting. Happily, Red Sparrow is a book that I could put down, first because it is a well-plotted, character-driven, and authentic sounding spy novel, and second, because if I had continued to read it too close to bedtime, I would have been too jumpy to get to sleep! Jason Matthews had a 30+ year career as a clandestine agent with the ...more
Apr 02, 2017 Veeral rated it it was ok
Jason Matthews, the author of this book, is a former CIA officer, and unfortunately, he can't keep his bias in check. At all. The CIA are good guys in this book. ALL of them (okay, maybe bar one or two minor characters). Well, Latin America would beg to differ, Mr. Matthews (and many other parts of the world). It's CIA, not NASA. Get off from your high horse.

The Russians on the other hand, are EVIL, except those who have turned against their countries and are spying for the USA.

The protagonist,
Valerie Frankel
Aug 15, 2013 Valerie Frankel rated it it was ok
No, this author is not the next Le Carre, Graham Greene, or Len Deighton. Yes, he does have considerable knowledge of CIA operational strategies and techniques. But that isn't enough to craft a good story - you also need some believable characters that you can get involved with. I found too much of this book to be trite and stereotypical, from the dark, menacing, unattractive Russians to the fatherly, dignified, handsome Americans. And too many Russian phrases dropped through the narrative, as i ...more
Amorak Huey
Jul 08, 2013 Amorak Huey rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
A decent spy story hampered by an excruciatingly slow start. Takes 100+ pages for the two main characters -- Nate of the CIA, Dominika of some Russian agency -- to end up in the same city, and even longer before they end up in the same bed. It's a tedious courtship.

The third act is pretty exciting, with the high stakes and cool tradecraft stuff you want in a spy novel, but there's far too much backstory before we get there. And Matthews seems unsure of whose story he's trying to tell, offering t
James Hollis
Jun 12, 2013 James Hollis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow has been described as being in the grand-spy style of John le Carré. Indeed, Matthews has crafted a complex tale of intrigue, twists, turns and convolutions that undoubtedly inhabit the intelligence/counter-intelligence world.

Red Sparrow is an exciting read. Although it is as deep and rich as a le Carré novel, the masterful pacing will easily catapult this author into a category whose books are a challenge to put-down once started. With Matthews’ real-life experience
Aug 07, 2013 Barry rated it it was amazing
Red Sparrow is one of the finest espionage books that I have ever read. Jason Matthews is, in my fragment of a mind, the equal of Daniel Silva and Jean Le Carre', although their styles are all very, very different. The plot is intricate, complex and satisfying to read, the characters are richly crafted, realistic and diverse and the writing is straightforward yet eloquent.

Red Sparrow does not rely on countless shootings, chase scenes, ambushes, killings and other types of assorted violence (to
Robert Intriago
Mar 26, 2014 Robert Intriago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage, 2014
I decided to read this book because I like the genre and the author was nominated for an Edgar for the best new book. After reading some of the reviews and seeing some bad reviews because it did not read like a Le Carre book, it gave me more of an incentive to read it since Le Carre's last 4 or 5 books were, in my opinion, terrible. This book reads more like a Robert Littell cold war spy novel, something in the order of "The Company".

Mr. Matthews is a master of the spy trade craft and his knowl
Nancy Oakes
Jun 06, 2013 Nancy Oakes added it
Recommends it for: readers of cold war spy novels
On a scale of 1 to 10, this is about a 7.5. I'll give an abbreviated version here; if you'd like the long one, it's here. Considering that this is Matthews' first novel, it was for the most part, very well done and I wouldn't hesitate at all to recommend it to other readers of spy fiction

The post-WWII Cold War era may officially be over, but one of the main ideas that runs through this book is that while Russia's system of government may have changed on the outside, underneath the facade the sa
Paul Pessolano
Apr 30, 2013 Paul Pessolano rated it it was amazing
“Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews, published by Scribner.

Category – Mystery/Thriller Publication Date - May, 2013

Excellent, one of the best spy novels I have read in a long, long time. Jason Matthews is a retire CIA officer with over thirty-three years service and obviously speaks from experience.

Red stands for the Soviet Union, and Sparrow is the name given to women who are enlisted by the Russian Secret Service to be trained to seduce either men or women to reveal intelligence secrets. They are
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 08, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Skip
"It isn't about money or ideology, it's your self worth... Then something screwy happens. You realize that you thrive on this life, on the risk and the trickiness, and the ice, and the deception and the secret in your head every day.... What are you going to do without all of this?"

I think Jason Matthews asked this question when he retired from the CIA to southern California. There was nothing left other than writing a spy novel, right? He throws in his favorite things - descriptions of food are
Oct 25, 2013 Chuck rated it it was ok
I read this book because I saw it favorably compared to LeCarre's "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold". That comparison turned out to be an insult to LeCarre. The biggest problem with this book is the characterization. LeCarre understood human nature and the characters in his book were real people. Matthews' characters are stereotypical without much true depth to them. For example, all of the CIA guys and the two Russians who work for them are decent people. All of the FBI agents are ignorant boo ...more
Pat C.
May 14, 2014 Pat C. rated it really liked it
4 -5 stars. I loved this book and really wish that Jason Mathews had started writing 20 years ago so I could read his whole backlog of novels. Now I have to wait a year or more for his next book. I hope he brings the Red Sparrow characters back.
The plot was suspenseful and exciting, the characters were complex, and I learned to hate Vladimir Putin.
Soul Survivor
Sep 30, 2015 Soul Survivor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Too awesome for words ; and a debut novel , too ! Glad I read him early , so I don't have to go back

and read 14 previous works .
Charlene Intriago
Excellent spy novel.
Steven Z.
Jun 11, 2015 Steven Z. rated it it was amazing
If you were going to create the proto-type writer of espionage thrillers you would want someone with experience in the art of spy craft. Someone who had engaged in clandestine collection of national security intelligence, who recruited operatives in the Soviet Union, Middle East, and East Asia. You would want a person who had been a CIA Station Chief, managed covert operations, and worked with American allies in counter terrorism over a career that spanned thirty three years. A person with this ...more
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Factual error - Scandinavia 2 40 Jan 05, 2014 08:18AM  
  • A Foreign Country (Thomas Kell, #1)
  • The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)
  • Night Heron
  • The Cairo Affair
  • Cold Shot (Kyra Stryker & Jonathan Burke, #2)
  • Dead Spy Running (Legoland Trilogy, #1)
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  • Slow Horses (Slough House, #1)
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  • Jack of Spies (Jack McColl, #1)
  • The Foreign Correspondent (Night Soldiers, #9)
  • Death of a Dissident (Porfiry Rostnikov, #1)
  • Once a Spy
  • The Abomination (The Carnivia Trilogy, #1)
  • The Prodigal Spy
  • Twelve Days (John Wells, #9)
Jason Matthews is a retired officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate. Over a thirty-three-year career he served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in clandestine collection of national security intelligence, specializing in denied-area operations. Matthews conducted recruitment operations against Soviet–East European, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean targets. As Chief in variou ...more
More about Jason Matthews...

Other Books in the Series

Red Sparrow Trilogy (3 books)
  • Palace of Treason (Red Sparrow Trilogy #2)
  • The Kremlin's Candidate (Red Sparrow Trilogy #3)

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“I’ve always loved Russian humor,” said Nate. “It’s a shame there’s so little of it.” 13 likes
“Benford’s office looked like the atelier” 3 likes
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