The Sparrow

Mary Doria Russell
The Sparrow Cover

The Sparrow


What a bizarrely twisted tale of first contact. The entire book has religious overtones, but thankfully is lacking the preaching and other BS that often comes along with that genre. There's a lot of talk of morality and meaning and god, of course, but the book is all about the trials and tribulations of the first detection and eventual meeting of the first aliens Earth has found.

It's hard to give much summary of the book, besides stating to much would ruin all the reveals. And there are a lot of reveals. Essentially this tale is the recollection of a highly damaged and torn individual forced to endure ages of isolation with radio transmission of his exploits reaching Earth far before he does. Most of the book is his testimony about what transpired. The last third of the book is pretty much just twisted reveal after twisted reveal, often times seemingly forced by religious morality. I don't think I really care about reading the second book, because I have a feeling the religion goes overboard in it, but this was a very good book.

The only problem I had with it is most of the book is direct recollection, but some chapters are from a perspective that is just not possible. I get that the protagonist could have gleamed some details from his hosts, but it really detracts from the book to have almost everything be first hand testimony and then jump to the thoughts, actions, and rationale of an alien. That sort've killed the otherwise interesting narrative.