|Ohmmm||Buckle Your Seatbelt|
|Rated G||Rated R|
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In late 2017 I was perusing a Books to Movie list for 2018 and Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews immediately jumped out at me. I’m not sure if I’ll go to see the movie (more below), but I absolutely will finish the trilogy.
Dominika lead a comfortable life in upper-middle class Russia until her ballet career ended and her father died in quick succession. She is then recruited by her uncle to become a spy and forced into ‘Sparrow School’, where they teach the art of seduction for state secrets. Dominika is assigned to Nathaniel Nash, a handler of a Russian mole, and is charged with finding the mole’s identity. Dominika, however, has plans of her own and takes her career, and life, into her own hands.
I have to break this down into a few different categories:
Plot – The plot was well thought through and grabs the reader’s attention. It’s the best part of the book, and makes it worth a read.
Details – The author is former CIA, and it shows in the details of the places, the action, the people, the gear. He writes as someone who knows what it’s like to be looking over hisshoulder, studying faces on the street. The details cause the reader to lean in and soak it up. That said, I wasn’t familiar with all of the spy and government jargon.
Sentence Structure – I struggled to follow some of the sentences, which could get a bit long. Sometimes it was to show the fluidity of a stressful time, having things run together with little punctuation. But I found it more distracting than helpful when trying to understand the scene.
Recipes – At the end of every chapter there was a recipe for a food that someone ate during the chapter. Sometimes it felt like the author forced a food scene so he’d have a recipe at the end. But I also didn’t understand the purpose of it. I found it distracting and often skipped it to move on to the next chapter.
Finally, it is worth noting that the ‘pro-US, anti-Russia’ feelings of the author do come across pretty strongly throughout the book. Knowing that both countries have their share of good people and bad people at the helm, and their share of faults, it would have been nice to see the love – and criticism – more equally distributed. But what else can you expect from a book written by a former CIA officer?
Would I recommend it?
Yes for people who like spy novels, and novels around the Russia/US conflict.
No for people who are sensitive to violence and violence against women. A couple scenes get a little too graphic… as in, I literally skipped pages until it was over… so maybe it wasn’t too graphic? I guess I’ll never know. But it was enough to make me hesitate to see the movie.
How did you feel about Red Sparrow? Did you see the movie? How are the other books in the trilogy?