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Have you ever wondered if there is life on other planets? The year is 2019 and when singing is detected on another planet, a Jesuit group goes on a mission of scientific exploration. What they find will change life as they know it forever.
This book is a fantastic exploration of faith, religion and clashes of culture. The story is fast paced, the characters are well developed and I found the concept very interesting. — Molly R., Oxboro Library
Mary Doria Russell delves deep into her characters and this classic sci-fi/treatise on morality is full of the thought and meaning that sticks with the reader for over two decades, as it has for me. This novel introduced me to Russell's writing and she has quickly become my favorite author.
Fascinating in-depth exploration of human nature, being and drama on and off our planet. Classic science fiction worth a read or a re-read, more than two decades since publication.
This book and it's sequel Children of God are a fantastic read for those who like really intelligent Science Fiction. In fact you don't have to be a Sci Fi buff to enjoy these books. I've never forgotten these books and have recommended them to many people over the years, and bought many copies as presents.
One of the best books I've ever read! Great, wonderful and thought provoking, this is a must read for anyone interested in human nature and what it means to be "good". Any book club discussing the themes in this work will not be disappointed. I'm going to read the follow up (Children of God) soon, but I need to let this marinate in my brain for awhile. If you think "literature" (or even Sci-Fi) isn't for you , you should pick this book up today!
Further thoughts on this book: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/cmlibrarygjd0
I quit half way through and I don't even care what happens to these characters! I am surprised that so many loved this one. It sorely needed a good editor. So much of the book felt like character filler that just went on and on.
The book kept me reading to see what would happen to Emilio. But it was recommended to me by a librarian for my twelve year old. This is not a book for a tween. So I am glad I read it first
After reading the prologue and that haunting plea—"They meant no harm"—this rush of foreboding came over me and I sensed I was at the beginning of something extraordinary.
And I was not disappointed. Mary Doria Russell has crafted a gripping tale of what happens when good intentions meets, no, collides with, raw nature. Only the description "gripping tale" barely scratches the surface. There's so much more going on here: philosophy, religion, anthropology, linguistics, the relativistic effects of interstellar travel, social evolution, betrayal, and a test of faith unlike any I've ever read.
The Sparrow was an ideal recommendation for me. I love science fiction, though I especially love the not-too-distant-future sci-fi where the "what if?" scenarios are just as close to reality as fantasy. I want to be able to look ahead and think, yes, events could play out this way. Carl Sagan's Contact comes to mind. I'm also an agnostic who enjoys pondering the humanistic side of the faith question. Many dismiss "skeptic" and "faith" as mutually exclusive, but I find dilemmas like a crisis of belief, for example, to be one of the most intensely vulnerable and human experiences we wrestle with.
Mary Doria Russell writes with sincerity, precision and a playfulness that will not be contained. Consider me a new fan. I only wish I had discovered her sooner.
A charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist leads a twenty-first century scientific mission to a newly discovered extraterrestrial culture in search of spiritual treasure, but nothing can prepare them for the civilization they encounter. Russell creates memorable, strong characters who navigate the world of exciting ideas and disturbing moral issues without ever losing their humanity or humor.
Father Emilio Sandoz is a Jesuit linguist who is one of the first to visit the first planet found with intelligent life. His experience is a harrowing illustration at how deeply you can misunderstand words when they a from an experience that is alien.
My all time favorite book. Out of this world characters, you inhabit their skins, horrifying deeds done in the name of God and man, rich worlds and vistas and the drama of human emotions.
I abandoned the book after forcing myself through 14 chapters. Emilio's wonderfulness was as unbearable for me as Sofia's life history and genius.
I have to call this a "good" book because it caused an explosion of ideas and concepts in my head while reading it. I was impressed with the range of themes this story contains. It's theological, sociological, anthropological, psychological, and philosophical, with a fair amount of heavy science thrown in to keep the sci-fi nerds pleased. The characters are all just a bit too unbelievable for me though. Emilio was the worst. I could not relate to him throughout any of the book. He came across as whiny even before all the trauma he'd suffer on the alien planet. I also thought his relationship with Supaari after everyone else died was uncharacteristic. Yes, Emilio was mortified with grief at first, but he completely failed to communicate well with Supaari. In every other mission the priest had been on, everyone sort of falls in love with him, yet Supaari is utterly bored with him, so it was unbelievable when the alien discards him. Anne and Sofia were unrealistically perfect female characters. Any flaw they had was somehow excused, justified, or reconciled in some way or another. I love strong female characters, but they have to remain human. The author admitting that she saw herself as Anne was self-promoting and awkwardly narcissistic. I have so much trouble with the event that caused all the trouble of Rahkat, the alien planet: planting a garden with Earth plants. WTF?! I'm no type of scientist and I was appalled at the concept. Endangering the ecosystem and introducing the concept of farming to a sentient species who did not have it as part of their lives is such an obvious abomination, even though I'm not a naturalist (like the character Marc) or an anthropologist (like Anne). For crap's sake, that was just ridiculously stupid. Had they been less educated Earthlings, yes, I would have viewed it as an honest mistake. Those are my rants for this book. I did love the two alien races, and the concept of herbivore/carnivore and prey/predator was brilliant. I was in love with the gentle Runa species and thoroughly intrigued by the Jana'ata and their control of the planet.
Simply incredible. Moderately slow start, but very strong characters and plot. Mature content undoubtedly, but with a satisfying end. Now on to the sequel.
This ranks among my top 5 books ever. I need to invest in a new copy, I've loaned it out so many times. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to read the first 1/3 of "Children of God" for a different perspective of the events in "The Sparrow."
This book is amazing. Some heavy, and some gory, stuff, not for the faint of heart, beautifully written characters, and excellent use of multiple timelines to build up a bit of mystery.
I read this book with some trepedation as it was a sci-fi book placed in the future. It also pertained to life on other planets and first contact.
To my surprise I enjoyed this book immensley and had it haunting me after I had read it for weeks afterwards.
The book takes place in the 21st century. It has 2 time lines one is the lone survivor of a group of 6 returns from a planet. Emilo is a jesuit and is taken into the jesuit society to find out what happened to the rest of the group. He tells his story about what happened to their group. Not only is Emilo's spirt broken but his is also physically disabled.
A group of friends get together for a night of song and fun. Jimmy goes back to his office and hears music coming from one of the planets they are investigating. He tells his friends and they make plans to go to this planet with the beautiful music.
Great science fiction.
I especially liked the way it combined relatively modern day issues with science fiction.
The follow-up, Children of God, is also worth reading.
This is my favorite book! I have read it three times and enjoy it more with each read. MDR writes wonderful complex characters. I have an affinity for many of them.
Great book club book. Religion, prejudice and colonization great discussion topics.
Great story telling, and very well written. Unlike many sci-fi type novels (of which this is not your typical variety) The Sparrow does not waste time on mind numbing explanations of futuristic gizmos and doodads. Instead it keeps the story moving, and does it well. The mystery unfolds as you read, alternating between time periods before and after the main events. It pulled me in quickly, and I had a hard time putting it down. I highly recommend reading this book.