Monday, December 8, 2008

Short Review: "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow is the kind of book I would like to write--while it can often be found in the science fiction / fantasy section of bookstores, it is more appropriately classified as a piece of moral or philosophical fiction.

The basic storyline of the novel revolves around a Jesuit mission to another planet, but Russell deals explicitly with issues of family and faith as it follows the rise and fall of the faith of Emilio Sandoz, the main character. Perhaps the most fundamental question the novel addresses is that of faith in a God who is not always nice. Anne Edwards, the agnostic character whom Russell describes as her own voice within the novel, often complains that God gets the credit if her patients survive while she, the doctor, gets the blame if her patients die.

Russell, a paleoanthroplogist, is incredibly skilled at both characterization and creating believable alien cultures. A former Catholic who has since converted to Judaism, she presents penetrating questions about science, religion and faith, as well as about morals and cultural mores. I would definitely recommend this book.

(If any of you end up reading this book--which you should--email me, because I would love to discuss it with you. The end is absolutely fantastic, but I don't want to write about it here and spoil it for anyone.)

11 comments:

Chatty Cathy said...

It sounds interesting. Hopefully I get around to reading it...maybe after I finish 1984.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

So... never, then?

Chatty Cathy said...

correct...hahaha.

Homero said...

I'll make sure to add it to my already gigantic "To Read/Finish Reading" pile. Sounds really interesting.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

It's REALLY good. I'm still debating whether I want to read the sequel, since this one was so strong I'm almost afraid that there's no where to go but down.

Daniele said...

I LOVED that book! It's been a while since I read it, but I remember it really made me think and I like books that do that. The sequel was still good, but not as good as The Sparrow.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I know--I keep stumbling across books that were written a while ago but make such an impact on me that I want to write to the author. I sent an email to Russell, but she will probably take one look at it and think, "Who is this fool? I was done talking about that book ten years ago."

Anonymous said...

Lindsay was wrong. lolz

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

D'oh! I hate when that happens!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're more ok with it in this case...

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

True, I was pretty psyched to be wrong this time.

But now I'm still waiting for that "up-and-comer" Sanderson to write me back...

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