Review: The Sparrow
A lot of the books that I read this year came from the Sword and Laser Book club on Goodreads. It's a fun little community and it's always got good ideas for books and keep their picks fresh. It's one of the reasons why I was so excited for this one. It seems like it should be my kind of thing. The story of how a religious group takes charge of man's first contact with alien life forms. And of course it also records how all of that goes to hell.
The book starts off in the right direction. It builds us with characters that have interesting back grounds and forms the foundation for a reasonable explanation of how a religious group could insert itself into the mechanism of the search of extra solar life. How a human race in the beginnings of commercial and every day space travel could provide for the interesting build up of the meeting between man and alien and the obvious ways that it was always going to go wrong. At the same time it explores many of the great questions about god and man, life in the universe, and the innate morality of existence. Unfortunately that is where is essentially stops.
Lost in the awfulness of the tragedy it presents the book becomes so pretentious about the spirituality of the characters that the author forgets to resolve their fundamental theology. This book gets lost in questions that are to old for a simple introduction. If you don't have anything knew to say on the subject, I don't know why we spent the whole of the novel discussing these age old theological questions. The ending without any attempts at an exploration of a new conclusion or a new way of looking at these questions simply leaves us with some attempt at shock value for the condition of the coincidences of the characters position.
For all it's talk of divinity the story is nothing but hollow words and effusive description. Two stars out of five.