The Sparrow

Mary Doria Russell
The Sparrow Cover

The Sparrow


The Sparrow is a novel about a first contact mission that goes horribly wrong.

That's no spoiler; we know this from the start. The story is told from both ends. We get plenty of hints about the things that happened from the future strand, and the past strand leads us towards the explanation. We get to know and like all the main characters before they are thrown into the alien environment, and because of that, we know that what we've been told in the future cannot be the whole truth, and maybe too we don't want it to be true.

We've been told things all along, and not known how much to believe, and that is really quite a clever way of not giving away the ending, and leaving it with some room to surprise.

I liked the writing. The characters had depth and dimension and variety. The alien culture was interesting. The point... well, it certainly leaves you with something to think about.

I'm not sure I want to read the sequel. I don't know if it was conceived as a two-parter, or if the second book was bolted on later, but I suspect the latter. The Sparrow stands perfectly well alone. It leaves questions unanswered, but those aren't the questions it is asking.