The characters were wonderful. Mary Doria Russell created multi-dimensional people and made me not only care for them, but also wish they were in my life.
This is my first tentative foray into speculative fiction so I don't have much to compare it to. I NEVER imagined I would enjoy science fiction so much. The characters' depth was similar to those in The Prince of Tides--these are people I who will stay with me.
There were so many poignant scenes. The best was probably the moment of contact, when Father Emilio was overwhelmed with the sense that his whole life had led to that moment , and he finally experienced God.
I laughed, I cried, I gasped. I will need at least a week to recover from the horrific events that unfold in the final chapters. And I am already pining for my "friends."
If you steer away from science fiction because it's "not your thing," I encourage you to try this one. The writing is beautiful and smart--there's plenty to stimulate almost any reader. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, anatomy, medicine, linguistics, anthropology, Latin, psychology, faith...all wrapped up in some very clever storytelling. Honestly--don't skip over this one just because it looks like it's about aliens and other worlds.
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.
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.