Ok, so it’s been at least two weeks since I finished reading The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (see The Sparrow Midway Check In) and I’m ashamed to say it is growing fuzzy in my mind. I read it along with several others in a Sparrow Read-A-Long organized by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, and I just want to thank Trish for getting me off my butt, peeling away my fears and intimidation and making me read this book. It was transformative.
I’m not even going to try to summarize the story. Saying that it is about a Jesuit mission that goes into space to search out other planetary life is just to reductive. I can say that it is an epic journey, with a wonderful cast of characters and deals with issues of faith. The writing is supreme and the storytelling is captivating. More often than not The Sparrow is categorized as science fiction and i think this does the book a grave disservice. It is one of the most complex literary novels I’ve read in a long time.
For those of you who have read The Sparrow, I have one question for you: Will you read the sequel, Children of God?
I don’t know the answer to this question yet. By the end of The Sparrow I felt that Emilio had been through so much that I didn’t want to see him suffer anymore. I was exhausted and devastated by the end. As much as I liked The Sparrow, the state of existential crisis it put me and the characters in was too much. But now, two weeks later, part of me does want to read the sequel. Russell is a brilliant writer. I fear that Children of God won’t live up to The Sparrow, but is that a reason not to read it? There are few books out there that can take my breath away the way The Sparrow did.
I don’t know exactly why, but I never really had a desire to read the sequel. I think I might be afraid that it would change the way I feel about The Sparrow and I want to keep it the way it is? I did, however, by MDR’s Doc and really hope to get to it soon.
I know what you mean about wanting to keep The Sparrow the way it is. I kind of feel that the sequel will be a let down. I do look forward to reading something else by her though.
I did start The Sparrow. I think I got about 5 chapters in when a few library books came in, and they got priority. I also didn’t want to rush it and feel like I just wanted to hurry up and read it, so I decided to pick it up another time when I have more time to appreciate it. I can tell already that it is going to be engrossing. Hopefully, I will get to it soon. You make it sound amazing. I didn’t even know there was a sequel. I do recommend A Thread of Grace!
Yeah, it’s good if you don’t have to rush this book. Do like you did with Cutting for Stone, dedicate a chunk of time to it. In fact, so much of what you said about Cutting applies to this book too.
Well, this sounds intriguing. I’d not come across The Sparrow before – your first sentence of summary may seem reductive it’s definitely eye-catching
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I don’t think I’ll read the sequel. Or maybe I will but definitely not right now. I have been hearing great things about another book she wrote called Doc and I might get to that one first.
Glad you joined us on the journey Tanya. It wasn’t an easy read but it was absorbing and chilling and one hell of a ride. I loved these characters so much and am so impressed by Russell’s writing.
Sorry I wasn’t able to participate in the read-along, but I did read this book and I LOVED it. Transformative is indeed the word for it. Great review, as always!
I would argue that many books of science fiction are complex literary novels and that categorizing a novel in this genre is not a disservice. It’s the way some people feel about the genre that does many novels a disservice. Sorry, I get all defensive about science fiction and fantasy, they are my babies :). I do feel that limiting books with specific genres is usually a not good thing – a good book often falls into many genres, not just one.
2. I don’t think I could read the sequel. I’ve talked to people who have, and they found it disappointing and I agree with everyone here who wants this book to remain pure awesomeness, untainted by other words.
You are right in saying that many sci-fi and fantasy books are also quite literary. I misspoke there. I guess what i feel is that The Sparrow wasn’t too out there, too sciencey or too futuristic. I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief too much and for that I’m grateful. I never read sci-fi so i guess it wasn’t what i expected out of that genre. I have something much more like Star Wars and Star Trek in my head.
Either way, it was an amazing book. I don’t know how i didn’t know of its existence sooner.
I know! I started hearing about it just this year and it came out a decade ago! What is with that?
And you and I have both worked as booksellers! We totally should have known about it. In my partial defense, i think i was living in India when it came out. i missed a lot that year.
At least you have an excuse – I have no idea where my head was at.
Gah! This book, man! I don’t know if I’ll be reading the sequel. I’m torn. It’s rare that I really enjoy a book and don’t read a sequel, but Emilio! Good heavens, he’s been through enough! Or is there another team? Will they meet the same fate?! I don’t even knoooooow!
It’s been a couple years since I finished The Sparrow. I have a sequel sitting on my shelf, but like you I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. I loved The Sparrow and I almost want to reread that before reading the sequel.
You know, I was completely ready to read the sequel until the last chapter. I felt so unsettled by the end yet not in a way I think will be “fixed” by reading the sequel.
I agree — the book really does not belong in the science fiction category. It truly is a transformative reading experience.
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