In contemporary Russia, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova has been drafted to become a “Sparrow”—a spy trained in the art of seduction to elicit information from their marks. She’s been assigned to Nathaniel Nash, a CIA officer who handles the organization’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception and, inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow.
“Red Sparrow” is definitely action packed. From beginning to end it’s a whirlwind of intrigue, misdirection and the complexities of humanity. Matthews spy jargon gives the story authenticity where he lacks in character depth. He definitely tried to bring depth to his characters but fell short with the two main characters, Nathaniel Nash and Dominika Egorova.
Matthews missed the mark with connecting readers to his main characters. Honestly, I felt that I had a better idea of who the 2nd level characters were than the main two. He put some real work into building Dominika into something deep and almost got there with her but I left the story feeling very unsure of who she really is on a level beyond the surface. With all that she endures her character should of left a deep impact before the book ended but I felt no real connection to who she really is. The best stories are stories that don’t feel like stories. The tales that worm their way into your psych and leave pieces of themselves inside you that shape the way you view the world. Matthews fell short of that greatness. His story is good, it’s just not great. I can see why it’s been turned into a movie. Much is left to the imagination regarding Dominika and I think Matthews should consider reeling in the mystery with her. She should leave a strong impact on the reader. She should feel much more real.
Nash leaves a similar impression. I feel like I know who he is on the surface but beyond that it’s vague and lacking. I have the same issues with him that I have with Dominika. I just don’t feel anything for him and I should. I really should.
I also strongly disliked the weird recipes added throughout. It was just…..weird. One of those cringy things that make you embarrassed for the author so you try not to see them.
The meat of the story is great. The levels of politics are intriguing. If Matthews puts in more work on building his characters he has a bombshell story. Until then, it’s just good and somewhat forgettable. I’m going to give him another shot and buy the next book hoping he’s worked through some of the first books woes.
I’m rating this book at 3 stars.
The Technical Data:
Title: Red Sparrow | Series: Red Sparrow Trilogy | Author(s): Jason Matthews |Publisher: Scribner; Media Tie-In edition / Publication Date: 6-4-2013 |Pages: 577 (Print) | ISBN: B008J4PK86 |Genre(s): Mystery / Spy / Thriller |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 | Date Read: 5-25-2018 |Source: Copy from personal collection.