I really enjoyed this book. The author has an understanding of faith and explores the question, "Why did God allow this to happen?" in the science fiction genre. This book is beautifully written and I looked forward to listening each day. The narrator was excellent and captured the "voices" for the various characters in this book very well. However, he is very soft and hard to hear at times. So be prepared to crank up the volume at those parts.
My star rating reflects the audio quality - not story quality.
Actually, Im not quite done with this book, an hour/thirty listening time left. Im finding the story to be good, I like the characters, and it keeps my interest. Until about 3 hours ago, the narrator kept a nice pace, and I was comfortable with the listening experience.
Then, all of a sudden, it felt as though the recording was sped up fractionally. The pace is now a bit rushed, and, although it doesnt sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks, the narrator has begun to grate on me. Perhaps they were trying to meet a time-length goal, but the result has really damaged my ability to take in the story without being annoyed.
I definitely would recommend this book as sci-fi-lite. I found that the character-based storyline was a nice change from my preferred sci-fi genres, where the main goal is world-building and techno-expose. This was a nice leisurely exploration of alien encounters, but READ the book in hard copy, and skip this download.
I didn't really enjoy this book but could easily see how others would really like it and get a lot out of it. If you are looking for a book that explores the Catholic Church from a very critical but loving point of view thru hard sci-fi this book may be for you. But if you don't really care to deeply and critically spend a whole book exploring the depth of the Catholic Church and the way it interacts with the world and itself then skip it.
When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!
I listened to The Sparrow and immediately moved on to The Children of God. Enjoyed listening to both and following the adventure into the discovery of other intelligent live in the solar system. Many well developed and memorable characters with dialog which propelled the story forward to discover a world beyond our own. It has many political and societal issues woven into the story, if you pay close enough attention to catch the author’s attempts to make statements about the church, capitalism, politics, belief in a higher power, slavery and population control. Some of the characters switch from good to bad and back several times during each book. These are novels that can make you listen for a while and then think about how this effects our present, our past and our future, for just as long. I found myself often stopping to contemplate these issues before continuing on with the story. If you have two credits and want several hours of intelligent novels, by all means get The Sparrow and The Children of God. (please note, you don’t need to get COG, but you really must start with The Sparrow. I don’t think you would understand near as much of COG without first listening to The Sparrow.)
Can't express fully how much I loved this book. It sounds like one that I'd maybe avoid: A sci-fi novel about a group of Jesuit priests and their secular colleagues who travel to a distant planet from which radio songs have been detected in order to spread the gospel and/or visit God's other children. But it starts from the end, when the sole survivor returns to Earth near death and is implicated in debauchery and the murder of a child. The revelation at the end of what's really happening on the planet is profound and deserves long contemplation. Plus the writing itself is stunning, both beautiful and smart.
The narration was perfect.
Bechdel test: Unsure.
The author's decision to focus a science fiction novel on the main character Sandoz' crisis of faith and crisis of guilt is ambitious and interesting, but the accidental event that catalyzes these crises falls short. It comes across as an awkward act of a cornered author, not an act of God or a sin of Sandoz'. This event also leads to a great deal of drama of Sandoz being accused of heinous crimes, but this seems quite contrived when we see that he could just clear up the matter with a few sentences.
There are other examples of the author sacrificing plausibility and character integrity for the sake of drama. For instance, the novel flashes between 2019, when Sandoz and crew visit the planet Rakhat, and 2059, when Sandoz is recuperating and telling his tale to the Jesuit bigwigs. This frame structure is just there to create suspense--we know that something horrible has happened but Sandoz won't tell the Jesuits (or us) why. But since Sandoz' reticence doesn't fit with his character and the events, the entire frame structure comes across as a suspense tactic.
Finally, the novel's pacing is odd, and not ideal for an audiobook. Most of the book is plodding, a cast of sanitized characters bantering blandly and thinking admiring thoughts of one another. Then the last quarter of the book is very rushed, with the events almost entirely told and not shown, as though the author were under deadline pressure.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
What an outstanding series debut! Sparrow follows a interstellar Jesuit mission that takes place, because music signals are detected through SETI. While it may not sound like it, this book has it all: alien cultures and ecosystems, evolution, love, friendship, mentorship, loss, betrayal, brutality, slavery, meaning of life, moral obligation, etc. Additionally, this book has the added theological discussions that inevitably emerge when people decide to walk with God but are good friends with atheists and agnostics. The mission crew members are described in detail giving the reader textured insight into their motivations. Basically, this is a great book. I can't wait to listen to the sequel.
I struggled to get through this book.
Unfortunately the book breaks too many rules of writing. I am giving it 1 star only because 0 stars isn't available.
Why did I hate this book so much?
1. Implausibility of the story. The author didn’t create the framework that made the “mission” seem like it could happen. Why did the church do this mission? What was the thinking? No backdrop existed that caused me to think that these activities would happen. It’s cool that the Jesuits did it. Why did they do it? I guess the book assumed I would know. Well, I don’t. I simply don’t get it. If I missed something, and I was indeed told, then the explanation was so off key and out of context I didn’t understand. Either way, it didn’t work.
2. Faulty time lines – much of the story contained conflicting elements. The characters are constantly chit chatting, snorting, tossing their heads, laughing and distracting us. But worse, the chit chatting results in conflicting histories. Was Santos a bad kid who went “good” because of the church? Or a baseball player? Or one of the other things he was. I think he was also a runner. He was agnostic, which was weird. I really stopped listening after a while to the random interjections.
More on timelines. The dates didn’t work. The publishing date was 2008, but this read more like something from 1970. We’re not going to be mining asteroids in the next few years. Thus the context of the story failed. Maybe if the author would have made this 200 years from now it could have worked.
And yet another point on the timelines: If the book wasn’t meandering enough, we have this back and forth nonsense with Santos from mission to current day. That didn’t work either. We vaguely know that the church has the mission info, but they don’t have it, but they do, and they don’t, and then everyone’s surprised, so I guess they didn’t have it. Honestly, the back and forth had no continuity. And of course no one explains why or how the data might have been either stored or not stored. It’s a very head scratching experience.
3. The story is comprised of cardboard characters who didn’t act like real people, but like caricatures, who didn’t have the appropriate amount of emotion for the activity taking place. Any novel worth reading should have at least one character who changes over the course of the story. Not so here. In fact, the characters never seem to reach a new understanding about life based on the story. They are perfect cardboard cut outs. Well, not perfect. Flawed cardboard cutouts. Actually, think of them as stick people drawn on a napkin.
4. The book has a ridicules ending that made me roll my eyes and speak the words “good grief, I wasted my time for this?” I actually groaned because I could sort of see why the church was used as the mission facilitators. However, as with most of the book no framework existed that allowed me to come to an epiphany and suddenly see why everything makes sense. And I don’t feel bad about the final outcome (as I'm sure was intended), because when something bad happens to stick people I don’t care.
5. Show me don’t tell me – Much of the interplay between the characters, how they act and how they are thinking is expressed as telling. Please don’t tell me someone smiled like a Cheshire Cat (OMG!). The book has been machine gunned with these types of phrases. I feel traumatized from reading them.
6. The parts of the book that could have had action, didn’t. People just ended up dead. Scenes that could have had action and impact didn’t materialize and we had to hear the story being told second hand. If I’m going to have someone ripped apart by an alien, tell me about the conflict itself. Please don’t make me imagine what must have happened by describing other people walking back and forth with body parts in between vomiting. My imagination should be wrapped up in the event. Instead there is nothing to imagine. I’m told what the scene looks like and have to imagine the violent event. If these scenes were a POV technique, they failed. And no spoiler alert needed. The reader knows from the first page that only Santos comes back, so the tension is removed right from the start. Yet another failure.
7. The result = boring. This book is so boring that it made me a little angry as I continued to muddle my way through. Soon, reading it became a game. I was completely out of the story as I analyzed why a particular statement made no sense, or how a character could be saying something that contradicted what I thought they should say.
I don’t want to sound cruel, but this story needs a rewrite. It was worse than a waste of time. I don’t understand the high reviews.
Finally, if you’re looking for science fiction where man meets alien, you can try: The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (a little dated), John Scalzi (any book he writes, he is amazing) or maybe Pandora’s Star by Peter F Hamilton. These stories are very logical and have alien interaction as they should be done.
Now I have to go get another book so I can try and erase this one from my mind.