Spy novels are not my normal genre, but Matthews' book was strongly recommended and I gave it a shot. The story is gripping and stays with you long after you've paused for the day, and forces you to lock your self away in your room with your head phones for hours. The performance by the narrator is excellent and from the opening lines his slow gravely voice oozes 1950's noir. I also liked the subject matter, setting a spy novel in post cold war American/Russian espionage was genius in my opinion. I did have a few complaints that are going to keep me from giving Matthews novel 5 stars. I know I just praised the story for its originality on peace time espionage but as a reader who has never worked in intelligence and rarely reads spy novels I was hoping Matthews would build in an understanding as to why some seemingly small scenes were/ are so important, basically teach me more about peace time spying than what I gleam from the story. Character development was great you quickly become familiar with the cast and you learn their personality's but with that in mind I think the author should have developed the story as much as he did his characters. His excellent characters create the color for the story unfortunately the reader is then invested in the characters and not the story and by the end of the book you or at least I felt like I had missed something, not a cliff hanger but more like dissonance it doesn't feel complete and I feel that is due to the lack of story development towards the end. All in all a really good listen, I have the luxury of working outside and can listen to books at work so I flew threw the "red sparrow" in a few days. I would still recommend this book, and then after my friend finished I would ask "so what did you think?"
The recipes at the end of each chapter. I will try some Russian cooking.
The end definitely moved me. I'm suspecting there will be a sequel given the way it ended, but I felt sadness for Marble and Nate both.
the description of present day Russia and the background of the main characters
too many to choose
One of the best, hits all the marks w/ great storytelling and narration.
It's not really a life changing book w/ memorable moments, but there are great moments of anticipation - it's a novel about spy’s and adventure. It’s not boring or overcomplicated in trying to figure out who’s good and who’s bad- just the right balance.
He does not go high and whisper when he does a female voice- and he's got enough range with the male characters that you are never confused about who's speaking.
No, but I found myself going around the block one more time to listen a little longer before ending my commute!
It's hard to create a good spy story- I think- without it being all about technology or clichés - and this was about the characters, but there was still enough fast paced adventure to make it interesting. I'm looking foward to this being a series.
Chose this book on a whim and was very happy I did. The premise, the characters, and the detail were wonderful and it all kept moving at a perfect pace. The narrator was also excellent. Looking forward to a follow up!
For simply incredible prose and superb fiction check out the Louise Penny novels featuring Chief Inspector Gamache.
There are not a lot of reviews on this book which is why I will chime in with my thoughts.
This is a first time author, and he has done an excellent job. I will certainly be an early reader of his next offering.
The Publisher's Summary is a tad melodramatic, but it is designed to sell as we all know. Still, no major errors.
This is for sure a clever spy novel, but to compare it to John le Carré as did one reviewer? Nope... but that is NOT to say it is not a great read. It is just that le Carré expects a sophisticated and highly educated reader and allows the plot to develop in the readers mind, and for that reason, he writes for a far more narrow audience.
Jason Matthews is what I would call, “A writer for the common man”, and that is NOT a negative. John le Carré is a hard read for many. With Matthews there is no need here to have your dictionary nor a bucket of patience at hand awaiting plot development. Matthews does an excellent job of building suspense right from the start... something I learned early to my regret in Chapter 1 when I decided to be late to a meeting just see what happened to the protagonist Nathaniel Nash. Caught me nicely off guard.
If you have read the other reviews, you see some negative comments about the recipes. Oh geez people... get over it. This author ends each chapter with a recipe. So what! Sometimes they are what the characters ate in that chapter... other times just recipes more or less related to location/country. Any time an author uses his imagination to make his novel a bit different is, to me, a clever divergence from the norm. Just make sure you are not reading this book on an empty stomach... some of those recipes sound awfully good!
Ummm... I have no idea if all the details are authentic, and I doubt if there are many who do. Dominika (the Russian agent) supposedly was sent the Sparrow School where female spies were taught the sexual arts to use as agents. There seems to be no hard data to confirm the existence of a Sparrow School, but Tom Clancy did introduce the idea in one of his books. Who cares? It plays well in this book. As for all the other details? Same thing... I really read books like this for enjoyment. They call it fiction for a reason. It feels authentic and to me that is what is most important in a fiction novel. The CIA certainly does not come out looking much better than the old KGB, but that should probably not be much of a surprise.
OK... now I have your attention... Jason Matthews writes really good sex scenes! No raw nasty overdone fornication here. He gives the reader the passion without the need for vulgarity. I suspicion women will like this (though I may by just be inadvertently a sexist pig). In fact he writes it so well, especially from what I am guessing is the female point of view, that Jason Matthews is clearly in touch with his feminine side. Further, as sex between the lead characters is forbidden, it makes the wait all the better.
Jeremy Bobb tries. He really does. However, he just reads... That's it. He simply does not have the breadth to bring life to the many characters and makes no attempt to add the accents and characterization so important in a novel of this type. I would suggest someone like John Lee for future novels, though there are certain many who could master the accents and make the book even better.
The book offers lots of intrigue, action, suspense and enough humor that the other stuff does not overwhelm the reader. Unlikely to win any awards, but absolutely worth a credit and a few hours of your time. Get it.... oh... and be prepared for a follow-up novel. We leave a character nicely dangling!
One of the better books I have listened to in a long time. I cannot wait to see what this young author will produce as his style progresses.
Because of its location, it feels like "The Tourist" which is another brilliant novel.
Too many to count. Seriously.
Das vidanya, comerade
Don't think, just buy and listen.
This is right up there with LeCarre and others, gripping, and authentic. Written by an ex-cia operative, it takes place in the current post KGB era with characters like President Putin of Russia.
No doubt, particularly based on the way it ended, that there will be subsequent installments. The characters are likable and the plot is believable.
There were times when the story would go so deep that you find yourself thinking "OK. I get it!" but he pulls it off the burner just before you say it. Its all worth it in the end.
Retired 35 year policeman from So CA, relocated with my wife to South Carolina with "Toby" our cat. I listen to two books a week
For first time writer Jason Matthews, his insight made this book superb. A times I felt this could be used as a training manual for becoming a spy. Also, Jeremy Bobb was a perfect fit to narrate this story.
I have listened to 200+ audio books and "The Sparrow" will go down as one of the top 10.
This story should lend itself well to a follow-up or sequel, I can only hope.