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The Sparrow | [Mary Doria Russell]

The Sparrow

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience - the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life - begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.
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Publisher's Summary

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience - the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life - begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

Sandoz is a part of the crew sent to explore a new planet. What they find is a civilization so alien and incomprehensible that they feel compelled to wonder what it means to be human.

The priest is the only surviving member of the crew, and upon his return, he is confronted by public inquisition and accusations of the most heinous crimes imaginable. His faith utterly destroyed, crippled and defenseless, his only hope is to tell his tale. Father John Candotti has been charged with discovering the truth, but the truth may be more than Earth is willing to accept.

©2008 Mary Doria Russell; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (618 )
5 star
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4.1 (439 )
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Story
4.3 (436 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (12)
Performance
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  •  
    Sandra St. Louis, MO, United States 05-07-10
    Sandra St. Louis, MO, United States 05-07-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
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    94
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    "Unique and Thought Provoking"

    Unbelievable! Very thought-provoking book. It was a little slow in the beginning and Russell spent a great deal of time with character development that sometimes seemed unnecessary. Hang in there and you won’t be disappointed. I loved this book but it would not be complete without listening to the sequel, Children of God, which really finishes answering all of your questions and leaves you wanting even more! The narrator sounds a little robotic and I had a hard time listening to him in the beginning. After a while, I got used to him and he became the voice of the characters. I would have given the narrator 3 stars, but the story is so good, he can’t take away from the story!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Glendale, WI, USA 07-02-09
    Anne Glendale, WI, USA 07-02-09 Member Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
    "Intriguing"

    Based on an interesting premise, the plot of this book sets up the conflict in the main character when his belief system is totally shaken. I enjoyed this thought-provoking story. As an audiobook, it was difficult to keep track of the switching back and forth in time (and locations) but I caught on after a bit. I agree that some characters lacked dimension. The narrator, David Colacci, was fabulous--different accents, ages, genders--were no problem and I never found myself being conscious of the reader. All around an enjoyable book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron Troy, MI, United States 06-06-09
    Aaron Troy, MI, United States 06-06-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    132
    ratings
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    57
    19
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    4
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    Overall
    "Sci Fi for the Lifetime Channel"

    This should be entitled "Get on with it". I suspect the positive reviews are from women and the mediocre to poor are from men - not trying to be sexist, but I think women have different expectations when it comes to science fiction. This reads more like a romance novel. The pacing in this thing is a nightmare. I had heard that they might make a film of this - if they do, please let them hire a good script doctor. Some fine ideas here, but my god is it slow - it takes half the book for them to get moving; no, really - skip the first third. The character development and dialogue is so cliche I almost gave up on it entirely. If the author had just bothered to proofread her own work and ask herself "have I ever heard that particular joke or phrasing before" and, if so, rewrite it or remove it, this would have been a much better book, but still not great. The protagonist is a idealized cypher, the rest feel like they walked out of a movie of the week. People this smart shouldn't have such mind numbingly dull things to say to one another.
    Also, if you aren't a funny person (that is, if people don't think you are funny) then don't try and write humorous characters. Ms. Russell isn't funny and her comic relief in this mess isn't funny either. She relies heavily on bland stereotypes rather than developing actual characters.
    Also, way too much exposition - don't tell me, show me.

    8 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DaBears113 09-16-08
    DaBears113 09-16-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    101
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    9
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    2
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    Overall
    "Where does the book start"

    I am not an impatient person and have no problem with the author giving me character background and other foundational story lines before the actual story or plot is unveiled. In this case I gave up after about two cd's because the story just never seemed to start at all. In fairness I listen to books in parts as I drive back and forth to work and run errands but if the book is in any way easy to follow I have never become lost and confused until now. Maybe it got good later on but I did not have the patience to wait for it and moved onto another read.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tripp Southern Southeastern USA 07-10-13
    Tripp Southern Southeastern USA 07-10-13 Member Since 2010

    I work from home and to prevent cabin fever I walk my dog for hours each day, listening to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    130
    8
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    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "This book is NOT as smart as it thinks it is"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I have no idea who would enjoy it. I imagine someone who doesn't much care about the past. Not ancient history, but like hours or days in the ago, back when they read the first two-thirds of The Sparrow, when it was a (flawed sure but enjoyable) different book, than last third.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Mary Doria Russell again?

    No.


    Would you be willing to try another one of David Colacci’s performances?

    Nope.


    What character would you cut from The Sparrow?

    Not worth the effort to even consider


    Any additional comments?

    After finishing this book I feel like I was...ummm...violated. If I wanted to listen to several hours of thinly veiled racism, classism, uninformed opinions and blind praise of religion I'd gone to my parents house for the 4th of July.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Eglestone 10-04-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    274
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    1177
    51
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    3
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    Overall
    "Worth a listen."

    Decent story line with believable characters. The production is worth a listen if you don't mind a very slow, involved setup which doesn't really add much to the plot development. The story wonders around a bit, but it will most assuredly make you think. The only problem I ran into was the last three hours. There must have been some trouble with the master tape at the recording studio because the speed keeps going up and everyone begins to sound like Alvin the Chipmunk. This flaw really messes with your mind.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 03-31-14
    Mary 03-31-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Religion or Porn"

    This is my first experience with Mary Doria Russell. The book was recommended by a friend who read both The Sparrow and Children of God. Initially the frequent changes from past to future made it difficult to follow the thread of the story. This continued throughout the book and the manner in which the changes were made was very disconcerting to me. The story held a lot of promise for me initially because I really liked the characters as they developed. I'm not a prude by any stretch but as the character of Anne developed and so much of her character was about her sex life and discussion and thoughts with the priest it just didn't seem to be really connected to the story; like a movie that has more sex thrown in to sell more tickets. The sexual discussion and the big part it played in the tragedy of the main character and his rape along with extensive focus on sex lives of the aliens seemed to be at the loss of further development of the story and other characters.
    The book spends about 2/3 of its focus in character development and about 1/3 on it's ending of the lives of the main characters after they have arrived at their destination. Overall I was disappointed and am not a fan of Ms. Russell's writing style. I do plan on listening to Children of God that I have already purchased. The storyteller was difficult to hear at times when the voice lowered and also seemed to increase reading speed during the last few chapters. The overall audio quality was the poorest I have ever experienced on an audible book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ProbablyNotBob United States 06-22-12
    ProbablyNotBob United States 06-22-12 Member Since 2010

    This profile is under my husband's name since Audible merged with Amazon. So just call me Bob. Or wife of Bob. Or the reader in the family. Whatever.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    23
    18
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    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Meh...."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I wanted to re-read this because I read it years ago and couldn't really remember any details. It's sort of intriguing, but OY, VEY!!! All the narrative tension could have been released by some plain old communication. When you spend 3/4 of the book wanting to smack the characters so they snap out of their idiocy...It's an ok book with an ok story but I would recommend checking it out of the library for free. Don't pay for it.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex Claremont, CA, United States 07-02-11
    Alex Claremont, CA, United States 07-02-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    14
    5
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    1
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    Overall
    "Fine, not good, not great"

    Labored, often cliche, and completely implausible. The book is so overwritten that you can space out from time to time and not miss anything. The lead female character is incredibly annoying -- you would hate her if you had to have dinner with her -- and the book often creates tension by using the cheap trick of withholding information from readers with the hope that they'll keep going just to find out what they haven't been told. Despite these and many other flaws, the central idea is intriguing enough that you can stick with the book and be mildly entertained.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Herndon, VA, USA 07-16-08
    Robert Herndon, VA, USA 07-16-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    6
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "A little slow."

    I would not buy this book again.

    1 of 17 people found this review helpful
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