The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Science Fiction

In 2019 a radio telescope picks up the first songs broadcast by an alien race. While the world governments tried to decide what to do, the Jesuits did what they always did when new civilizations were found. They went to explore them.

The Jesuits got a several-year head start on other exploration teams.  By the time the next people from Earth reached Rakhat they found only one survivor of the original mission.  Father Emilio Sandoz was physically maimed and emotionally broken.  They got him back on his ship and set the auto pilot to Earth.

Now it is 12 years since the radio reports of Father Sandoz’s rescue reached Earth and his ship has just arrived.  The Jesuits have secluded him in Italy to get his side of the sensational story that the other human team sent.  But Father Sandoz is not talking.

The story alternates from there from how the original crew of eight people met each other, traveled to Rahkat, and lived and died there and the present time with the interrogation of Emilio Sandoz.  I liked this format because it added a layer to the suspense.  You knew the mission was a disaster but you didn’t know how.  As you were meeting all these people and getting to know and like them there was always that black cloud ahead.

The writing is very good and draws you in quickly.  I read this book over a few days because I found it hard to put down.  I wanted to know what happened..  I enjoyed the flashbacks to before the mission and I liked the interrogation chapters but I found the time on Rakhat fairly boring.

There are some plot points that I want to complain about but I can’t without giving everything away so I’ve started my very own spoiler page.  Now I can rant about things that I want to in peace.