Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Children of God

Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
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's review
Mar 14, 09

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, groups-buddies, orphaned-and-quasi-orphaned-kids, reviewed, novel, speculative-fiction, gr-a, aaalt
Recommended to Lisa by: Sandi
Recommended for: every reader who has read the author’s The Sparrow but none who have not
Read in March, 2009

I am so glad that Mary Doria Russell continued with the story from The Sparrow. I was so happy to see some of the characters from that book in this one. It’s my favorite kind of science fiction: character driven and thought provoking. This one had me sobbing at the end.

This is a fascinating study of human and other sentient being psychology and cultural and social anthropology, which is how I saw it what with my predilections, and because my personal philosophy differs from many of these characters and from most people, I did not see it as a story about G-d or religion. I do like that the author has converted to Judaism and I do like the references to Judaism in the book, a lot. It was particularly moving to read about this subject when the events are taking place on another planet with humans and two sentient species native to the foreign planet.

She writes very interesting characters although in this book I felt as though the plot got bogged down at a few points and it took me some time to warm up to many of the new characters. I felt impatient occasionally which did not happen with The Sparrow. I also feel outrage that (unless I missed it?) a certain character did not tell another something that would have been of great solace to him and that also would have also been better for the story, I think.

This book could work as a stand alone book but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who hasn’t read The Sparrow. I don’t think this book is as well crafted as The Sparrow but I can’t conceive of reading The Sparrow without finding how this story continues and what happens with the characters and their descendents. I now think of these two as one book.

As a vegan both these two Mary Doria Russell books gave me much “food for thought” and I think that was even more so with Children of God than it was with The Sparrow.

If I wasn’t reading this as a continuation of The Sparrow it would have probably received only 3 and maybe only 2 stars from me.
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Reading Progress

03/10/2009 page 12
2.59% "My non-renewable library books not quite in so reading this next. Not too long after reading The Sparrow. Eager to discuss when done."
03/11/2009 page 31
6.68% "Unfortunately have to get some sleep. So happy some of the characters from The Sparrow are characters in this book too!"
03/11/2009 page 47
10.13% "I'm loving this! I'm so glad I'm reading it not too long after reading The Sparrow."
03/13/2009 page 169
36.42% "I'm really enjoying this but I'm spending more time on Goodreads than I am reading, and so many books I need to read asap."
03/14/2009 page 309
66.59% "Enjoying but have to get to bed. Was thinking too many characters added but just starting to make sense why."
03/14/2009 page 391
84.27% "Suspenseful. Should be working on a project but I might try to finish this today so I can review it then post in a discussion here, finally."

Comments (showing 1-35)

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message 35: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I have read two of this author's books. I totally loved them, but they were not the science fiction ones. I really hate science fiction, so I guess I shouldn't try this book. Nevertheless, it is tempting....

message 34: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Chrissie, they're not really like science fiction at all. Yes, the story takes place on another planet but it's more about relationships, faith and healing. This is the follow up to The Sparrow. I loved this book.

message 33: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan I'm reading The Sparrow for an online book club. It had been on my to-read shelf because I loved her book A Thread of Grace, which I highly recommend! Anyway, someone said something about The Sparrow (which I wish I had not read) and also mentioned readers should read this sequel, so on to my list it went. A Thread of Grace is about as far away from science fiction as it gets; it's historical fiction and really terrific, although violent in parts.

message 32: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, Which two of hers have you read?

message 31: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Children of God is a sequel to The Sparrow Chrissie so if you read this you should read The Sparrow first.

message 30: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Hi Lisa,

I'm a friend of Chrissie's. Sorry if you thought I was butting in. I just wanted to tell her that I enjoyed Children of God more than The Sparrow. I also loved A Thread of Grace and look forward to reading Dreamers of the Day.

message 29: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Lee, Oh, I love comments from all members. There is not "butting in" at Goodreads. Thanks: I'll have to check out Dreamers of the Day.

message 28: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Whew, I was worried for a second that you were wondering who the hell I was sticking my two cents in. I'm pretty sure Chrissie recently read Dreamers of the Day and really loved it because I remember talking with her about it. Have a great day!

message 27: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Hi Lisa and Lee, I have read Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day. Both got four stars, but actually I think I liked Thread of Grace best. I am so tempted to read The Sparrow and then Children of God, but I really don't think I can take it happening on a distant planet. I am so stuck on learning a little bit of history or geography. I am kind of allergic to scince fiction....... On the other hand I really enjoyed Bulgarkov's Margarita book. However it was possible to learn stuff there too. I wish I could borrow them at a library. I think it is so nice that we can all talk to eachother about books that interest us! Toodles.

message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, Re different planets and good SF in general, There's always something to learn. It might not be about actual history, but in exploring human relationships/philosophy, there's always something to think about and something to learn. You might want to give them a try. On the other hand, there are so very many great books out there that perhaps you should read those. I've read my share of fantasy/SF and learn as much from them as "realistic" books. A Thread of Grace was wonderful. I gave it 4 stars also.

message 25: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, I thought of something else to say. Re SF books: If they're about real relationships, even if they take place in a made up place, it's not really that different than us in our cultures reading about a real, but different from ours, culture re time & place. It's the emotions elicited that matter, at least to me.

message 24: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Yes Lisa, I couldn't agree more. While some science fiction does focus on the technical aspects etc., these particular books are more about relationships and philosophy. The protagonist in these books is a fascinating character; an intelligent, unhappy and tortured priest. I found myself feeling deeply for him.

message 23: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Alas, I have tried to read the Sparrow several times and couldn't get past the second chapter. I finally sold it back to the used book store.

message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Lynne, I hope I have an easier time than you. I have so many books I need to read, including some for book clubs that I hate to waste time on books I don't like. I'll see. I will probably start The Sparrow tomorrow.

message 21: by Chrissie (last edited Jan 26, 2009 12:43AM) (new)

Chrissie I listen to what each of you say and think I agree with all of you. Of course learning about relationships is important, BUT don't you think that often the reader best relates to the book when the point of the book agrees or in any case is concerned with what one's philosophy of life was before they even picked up the book? How often does our philosophy change? Maybe one better understands why we think what we think, and of course that is learning! So to hear the other point of view, Lynne what pissed you off with the book and thus caused you to sell it back? Was it just plain boring or was there something specific that annoyed you? I know I am really weird in spending so much time deciding which books to even open up!!!

message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, It depends; my beliefs are different from many but I frequently enjoy reading about others different from me; if I did not, I wouldn't like most books. But what I meant when I said emotions was simply universal human feelings: happiness, sadness, etc., not necessarily big philosophical questions and differences. I think it's possible to be interested in and empathize with those very, very different from us.

message 19: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I am in total agreement. Empathy is not limited only to those with whom one shares common beliefs or circumstances. Your heart bleed or pounds simply because you care. No way is it due to any logical reasoning!

message 18: by Lynne (new)

Lynne To be fair, any SF book starts out with two strikes against in my book and I just couldn't get past that. None of the characters interested me enough to keep reading. I sold it back to make room for new books from the library book sale. Alas, purging books is an unpleasant necessity.

message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Lynne, Do you mean Children of God or The Sparrow or another book? Because this book, Children of God, is a sequel to The Sparrow, which probably should be read first.

I just started The Sparrow. I can't tell yet whether or not I'm going to enjoy it. So far it's taking place on earth, in the future: 2019 & 2059-2060.

message 16: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was still thinking about the Sparrow. (I did like Thread of Grace!)

message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan Lynne, Thanks. I really liked Thread of Grace too. I'm hoping I'll like The Sparrow. I have some time to read tomorrow and Friday and the weekend this week.

message 14: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Well, I do not think I will try The Sparrow or The Children of God, because they are science fiction. Nevertheless, I recommend both The Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day. As I said previously I preferrred the first one. I wish she would write another historical fiction. I wonder which way this author will turn. Let me just say here - The Pure Land is a fabulous book about the overthrow of Tokugawa shogunate and the opening up and industrialisation of modern Japan. We are talking the latter half of the 1800s. The book is about a Scottish man, Thomas Blake Gordon, who played a central role in this process. I have to recommend the book. I am sort of changing the subject here, but I had to tell you about this book. Just fabulous!

message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Vegan I recently added The Pure Land to my to-read shelf, I think because of you Chrissie.

message 12: by Lynne (new)

Lynne The Pure Land was already on my list, but I am moving it up in priority based on Chrissie's rating.

message 11: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Me too, The Pure Land sounds like something I will love. Thanks Chrissie!

message 10: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I have added more to my review of the Pure Land. I am still wondering why the author puts a spiritual twist at the end.

Lisa Vegan Well, just to report: I"m on page 78 of The Sparrow and so far it's not way out there SF but a character driven novel and I'm enjoying it, but I still am not sure what's going on. I must say I do like some SF, although it's certainly not my main genre. I have extremely eclectic tastes. One of my favorite books from Childhood is SF: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

message 8: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Lisa, First I want to tell you I was a bit uncomfortable about even mentioning the Pure Land, here under The Sparrow comments. Sorry! You are so very right about Wrinkle in Time. I read that ages ago and yes it is SF. I loved it too. I have given it 5 stars. Also one of my favorite childrenbooks. Lucky you if you have a child to read it to now!

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, I like discussion here that are varied so no need to feel uncomfortable on my account. Actually, we're in Children of God but maybe The Sparrow comments fit since Children of God is its sequel. Anyway, I'm enjoying The Sparrow so far, but everything so far is taking place on earth.

message 6: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I can't wait to see what you finally think!

message 5: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Lisa, I'm glad you continued with this one and enjoyed it because I loved it!

Lisa Vegan Lee, Me too. I'm glad I didn't wait too long after I finished The Sparrow also. When I recommend these, I'll suggest people read them in succession.

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, I really liked it. It was very moving. I do think The Sparrow was somewhat better constructed but for the joy of following the story this one was great too.

Sandi I'm so glad you went ahead and read this after finishing "The Sparrow". I do think "The Sparrow" stands quite well on its own, but "Children of God" really brings the story to completion.

Lisa Vegan Sandi, I agree 100%. I'm really glad that she decided to continue the story. I see you're the member I put down as "recommended by" so thank you. I probably would have read it anyway but I'm so inundated with too many to-read books that I can never be sure.

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