Monday, April 19, 2010

Required Reading: The Sparrow

The Sparrow
Mary Doria Russell

Oh, The Sparrow. Where do I even begin?

I finished this book weeks ago, and yet I have not been able to put metaphorical pen to paper, until now. The interim has been filled with ceaseless pondering, The Sparrow continuing to occupy my mind even as I read several other novels.

Even now, scenes and characters from the novel still wander the halls of my mind, poking in at inopportune moments. When you consider that this is MDR's first novel, my envy is complete. Damn you, woman.

Before beginning with the obligatory summary, I must first state, as others have before me, that, although The Sparrow is classified as science-fiction, you should ignore this label if sci-fi ain't your bag. Although it may feature elements of sci-fi, this is literary fiction all the way.

Okay, on with the obligatory: The Sparrow follows two different timelines; we begin in 2059, when Emilio Sandoz, the lone survivor of an expedition to a faraway planet called Rakhat, returns to earth. Immediately an inquest is opened to discover the fates of the other explorers, but Sandoz is far too traumatized to offer up his secrets.

Before we can get too far, however, we are returned to 2019, as humanity first discovers life exists on Rakhat. While scanning the skies for extraterrestrial radio transmissions, beautiful, hymn-like singing can be heard. Because such music is nearly identical to our own songs of worship, many wonder if Rakhat can offer proof for the existence of God.

Quicker than you can shake a finger (or maybe not, if you happen to be Sandoz), eight intrepid explorers are off to meet the inhabitants of Rakhat. What they encounter is beyond all imagination and prompts them to question the meaning of faith, existence, and humanity. As an agnostic (something I dislike about myself, thanks to Yann Martel), I found this book very powerful; believers and non-believers alike cannot help but be affected by this novel.

In a nutshell: This crap review falls quite short of the power that is The Sparrow; simply put, you MUST read this book.

Oh, and Brad Pitt is set to play Emilio Sandoz? BLASPHEMY!

Oh, and, and -- many thanks to Heather for bringing this book to my attention!

Bibliolatry Scale: 6 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: Personal copy, woot woot


Heather J. said...

You are so very welcome! I'm thrilled that you gave the book a shot, and even more thrilled that you loved it as much as I did. YAY!

Book Quoter said...

Putting this on my list.

I agree with you on Beatrice and Virgil. I thought about whether I liked it or not for days.

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

wow...i love reviews like this! books that render me speechless (or at least make me struggle when it comes to writing a review) are so far and few between. i'm guilty of not reviewing unbelievable books because i can't find the words for them...(the gargoyle).

i'm going to check this book out of my library and hope to remember where i read about it when i'm done. i'll check back in and let you know how it went for me!

Aarti said...

I just read this recently and really enjoyed it! I can't wait to read the sequel. There was just so much THERE to think about.

Florinda said...

Woohoo, another convert! *rubs hands together in glee* I'm so glad you discovered this novel indirectly via our Read-along, and that you loved it too. It is very hard to do it justice in a review, though, other than to say "you MUST read this!"

Book Quoter said...

I thought I'd come back and tell you that I really liked this book. It's on my list. Thanks for the great review.

Anonymous said...

One of my all-time favourites!!

Esha Narayanan( the dreamer) said...

your reviews are so entertaining...i love them..:)
anyway im so badly want to read this one too!!!!!