David Claudon's Reviews > The Sparrow

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
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's review
May 08, 2011

it was amazing

A group of seven explorers, sponsored by the Jesuits, set off on a mission to the planet Rakhat. Think Avatar with priests, scientists, two Sigourney Weaver characters (one young, one old), and a complex main character priest who becomes the only survivor of the journey. We know from the beginning that things end badly, but the suspense of the book comes from learning not what happened, but why it happened. "You have the facts, but still don't understand," says one of the characters. I found myself at times having to put the book down because I didn't want to end the characters before I was ready. All the characters, including those inhabitants of the planet, were well drawn.

Russell has created a world of lush beauty and harsh realities, which remains compelling even after I've finished the book. It's taking a bit to shake off her world and return to reality.

How do we accept that God leads us in our choices when bad things happen to people that we care about? (It is not surprising that one of the women is of Jewish descent, for the previous question is infused with the horrors of the atrocities of the 20th century.) The book is on my list of must-reads.


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