Laura's Reviews > The Sparrow

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
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's review
Jul 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club, books-i-have-listened-to-while-comm
Recommended to Laura by: Nora O'Donnell, Book Club
Read from August 18 to September 02, 2011 , read count: 1

Russell's character driven novel certainly elevates the genre of science fiction, and her background in anthropology made the behaviors and cultures--both on our future Earth and on the alien planet Rakhat--believable, natural, and interesting.

The narrative, told in flashback, slowly unfolds what happened to the crew of priests and scientists after their inter-stellar mission returns only one man, a mutilated and shocked Jesuit priest named Emilio Sandoz. It's a tension raising technique that never feels like a gag and it never falls flat. The fate of the crew is hinted at and revealed in nice contrast with the present day scenes of Sandoz trying to come to terms--with not much help from the priests "helping" him--with what happened to him and his friends.

Although I enjoyed the story, I did have some issues with the dialogue. The characters, who are all very good friends, are constantly joking themselves into hysterical laughter. What they're actually saying, though, is never really that funny. Also, the dialogue, especially that of Anne (or Ann? I listened to the book...) was always perfectly ironic, sarcastic, or pithy. No one talks like that all the time. It's forced and unrealistic, and it really drove me nuts.

That aside, however, the novel was a successful exploration of faith, healing, and behavior.

One final note on the audiobook: don't listen to it. The narrator, David Colacci, is an American who has to do accents for a Puerto Rican, a Texan, an Englishman, an Israeli, and others. And he does them, badly. Really badly. Read the book instead.

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