Great plot, great pacing.
Right up there with the best, I could have done this one in just one sitting! Even the recipes seemed sinister as read in the dead pan narrators style. Somehow it really works. As the character sees things in colors, I tend to see things in flavors so this tour of exotic locals in terms of food really appeals!
Mr Matthews has a great career ahead! There is room for improvement in the sex and violence scenes. The sex is a little boring and violence of the torture scenes needlessly graphic. Sometimes less detail is more effectively chilling.
Having said that, this is a fast, well developed and very tightly plotted novel. Right up there with Silva, Le Carte et al, don't miss it!
All in all worth the credit, unputdownable 9 out of 10! I can't wait for the next one!
I think I will need to buy this one in print also since I do want to make some of the recipes!
I'll start with the important stuff; Written extremely well, interesting style with a great inside feel, characters are great and the chemistry built between them works and brings you into the lives of the players on an emotional level, the narration is a perfect match for this book and feels right for the age and position of the characters, there is suspense and a lot of effort put into the character development phase, and it does not bog down as some books do, instead it helps you understand the trade craft involved in this very delicate and dangerous game. This book has all the elements to make it a classic of the genre, one of the best like it out there for international espionage - Highly recommended.
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
I never thought I would be interested in a spy story. Red Sparrow, however, was a great listen. I am very glad that I gave this new type of novel (for me) a chance and that I stumbled across this particular book, thanks to the great reviews from other listeners. I am hovering between four and five stars and only at the end of this review will I know what I decide.
There are lots of descriptions of what the story is about, so I won't try to do my own version. I will just say that I was captured right away and spent the greater part of two days glued to my little mp3 Sport, listening. It wasn't easy finding enough things to do that could support also listening to an audiobook for those many hours!
I enjoyed the characters, all of them. They were each fascinating in their own way, the good along with the evil ones. I especially liked Dominika, who was certainly not one-dimensional and often surprised me with her behaviors. And yet, her behavior was always reasonable given her circumstances, once I thought about it for a while.
I feel this is an author that knows his stuff and he confidently shows it. He knows it from the inside, which you will learn if you read his bio. I am sure we will hear a lot more from him in the future. Additionally, the narrator did a great job, too.
So, I am giving the book 4 1/2 stars and rounding up. Highly recommended to anyone who likes spy stories and those who would like to give one a try. I will be purchasing book 2 in the series in the near future!
I love books!
First time author for me and debut novel for James Matthews. It was a page gurner and I couldn't put it down. The author is a retired CIA officer and got much of the book from his background. This is a classic Russia versus the USA and it's current day. The author must've written this book 2-3 years ago but the event he decscribes are the ones going on right now in Ukraine and elsewhere. He states that Russia misses being a superpower and now being considered second class. Vladimir Putin's goal is to creat a USSR vesrion 2.0. With this backdrop the author creates some interesting characters on both sides and an intense, hard hitting story of spy versus spy. Using current events makes it even more plausible. The author is supposedly writing a second book using these characters, I'll look forward to it.
This is one of the best books I have read in years. The story is edge of you seat suspense, with a spy style love story mixed in. The writer worked for the CIA so it just doesn't get more realistic. Narration is excellent. This book left me racing back to the computer to see if Jason Matthews had other books. I could not believe this was his first. Destined to become a must read classic.
Red Sparrow is the debut novel from retired CIA retiree with 33 years experience. It has a certain ring of authenticity throughout. Good thing he can write also!
A few things that set this book apart from other spy novels (for better or for worse):
1. The main character has a "sixth-sense" that allows her instincts to 'sense' what another personality is feeling (ie., anger, betrayal, deceit, lust, etc...).
She can see another person's "aura" which shows their true "colors" and this aura flares when agitated regardless of other outward appearances by the person. This would give an obvious advantage to the person who could read this aura. This didn't particularly bother me, as I just put it down as a literary form to express heightened instincts that were visible to the character and reader, or etc...I could see how this might bother other readers though, as it borders on the supernatural or silly when in the context of a serious espionage novel, but it was fine.
2. Each chapter ended with a recipe for a food that was tasted by the main characters somewhere in the previous chapter.
I actually enjoyed this aspect, although other reviewers had stated an annoyance or the superfluity of it. Being a spy novel it could easily be seen as a way to pass information to a knowing party, where another party would see it only as mundane information. Another reason I liked the recipes included, is because they were interesting. They added a dimension to the story that I often listen for: sights, sounds, SMELLS, tastes, etc...
The author really seemed to love cooking and the food sounded really tasty at times! I didn't think this was overdone either, as the recipe normally took about one-two minutes to recite.
It was otherwise a satisfying spy novel, and the conclusion was somewhat unique. I would highly recommend to fans of this genre.
Favorites: Invention of Wings, Cutting for Stone, All the Light We Cannot See
Everything: characters, plot, narration.
Lot of twists and turns. Hard to stop listening.
The red sparrow.
Intelligent spy thriller
Other books I've liked, so readers can get a sense of my taste: Gone Girl, Suspect, Guilty Wives, Witness, The Unlikely Spy, Cutting for Stone, most Daniel Silva, most John Le Carre. I wish other reviewers would put their top likes as well.
This is a great espionage novel, masterfully read. Deep characters, intricate plot, high quality suspense. I’m happy that 2/3 through, the seduction portions are very powerful support for the story, but few and far between. What great about the story is those few events provide a huge dimension of the story without all of the “detail”, which would be distracting. The reader does an excellent job. J Bobb is superbly matched – right up there w/ “13” by RK Morgan and the Jasper FForde novels which are very well matched with readers.
Really enjoying the story - love to see just how the plot is unfolding at every turn.
I felt like I was in Russia, in the SVR.
Reality in fiction. Compared to other espionage books, this seems more real.