Guest Review: Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
June 4 2013
Received from publisher
Yummy Man – Nathaniel Nash
Kick Ass Chick – Dominika Egorova
From Goodreads –
In today’s Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA’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. Seeking revenge against her soulless masters, Dominika begins a fatal double life, recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington; hunt down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Putin’s intelligence service. Dominika and Nathaniel’s impossible love affair and twisted spy game come to a deadly conclusion in the shocking climax of this electrifying, up-to-the minute spy thriller.
What can I say but wow. I have to be honest here as I would have never picked up this book on my own accord in a million years but I’m so very glad that I did. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is a complex tapestry of sex, secrets, deceit and espionage. Riveting and bone chillingly good from start to finish, this book really had it all from the get go.
Red Sparrow is a story depicting the incredible and arduous lives of intelligence operatives from both the United States and Russia and how their lives are intertwined in conquests of power, greed, country and self preservation. Jason has a writing style that takes you from your reading chair and plops you down into the thick, slick and gritty atmospheres that he conjures. Often I could feel the damp Helsinki air and the doom and gloom of the rainy day or the horrors of the brutal Russian prison brought to life with such strong description and literary elegance. Jason writes of Moscow and Europe as if he had lived there his entire life and is simply showing you family photo albums of memories and moments with every page. Furthermore, Jason has a gift for bringing his characters to life. His choice for words and meticulous but tame attention to detail brings quirks and images to the reader with ease. A phrase pertaining to a character’s chipped glasses as a result of carelessness was a personal favorite of mine. Not necessary for the story to progress but made the read that much more enjoyable and memorable.
I cannot write this review without taking a moment to reflect on the books tragic heroine. Dominika is a symbol of grace shattered by politics and duty. She is so captivating and wonderful, I found myself swooning for her hard demeanour yet pitied by her tragedy. She is so wonderfully constructed that at times I thought of the potential movie from this book and was challenged to find an actress so complicated yet very simple to fit her role. Dominika finds a way to bring herself from the ashes and rise again as the phoenix. Her journey is not something I’ll soon forget as the tears are still a little bit fresh from the final few pages of the book.
Another thing that was fascinating was the fact that I didn’t get lost in this book! Granted, there was quite a bit of CIA and espionage lingo but Jason doesn’t flood the pages with it and queues in explanations right at the times where I felt it was most needed. I loved the peppered Russian phrases in the dialogue and have Jason to thank for a new repertoire of KGB approved cuss words. But on a serious note, the inserted Russian just added to the flavor of the dialogue and made the character interactions more human and believable. Jason also ends all of his chapters with a recipe for food featured in the previous chapter. A nice touch but it made me hungry for snacks at 11pm! Nothing a handful of pretzels can’t fix.
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is the first book of its kind I have ever read and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to read it. From cover to cover, the work put into this story is clear and presented like a silk spider web. I can only imagine how hard it must be to weave an intricate tale such as Red Sparrow and pull off a memorable story that tugged on every emotion in my repertoire. Red Sparrow is a gem that should not be passed up.