I’m not going to lie. I put this book on hold because I wanted to read it after seeing the movie that came out this year starring Jennifer Lawrence. I was surprised at how popular this book and its sequels are – there was a really long hold time at the library. I put the book on hold when the movie came out in March and the e-book just became available to check out.
The two main characters in Red Sparrow are Dominika Egorova and Nathanial Nash. Dominika was a prima ballerina until her career was sabotaged by a jealous dancer in the company. Desperate to find a way to provide for her mother, Dominika is approached by her uncle, a high-ranking intelligence officer, who offers her a position in Russia’s spy network. But her uncle has his own agenda and forces Dominika into becoming a Sparrow, operatives who are trained to seduce their targets. Underestimated by her colleagues, Dominika learns to use her wits and body to get what she wants.
Nate Nash is a CIA officer who is the handler of a Russian spy, code-named MARBLE. When a planned meet-up goes wrong and MARBLE is almost discovered, Nate is exiled to Helsinki. Russian intelligence knows there is a spy leak and knows Nate is involved somehow but does not know the identity of MARBLE. Dominika is sent to observe and seduce Nate to see if she can figure out who the mole is.
I enjoyed this book. I found it to be an intriguing spy novel with covert operations, clandestine meetings at safe houses, and a lot of sneaking around. It’s a book where you don’t know who you can trust, but that just makes the story all the better.
Did I think Red Sparrow was a great and fantastic book? Not really. There’s a lot of sexism and stereotypes. At times I wondered if I was reading a book written in the 1950s. I also felt some of the sexual content was a little over the top and I found myself rolling my eyes. The author is a former CIA agent which is evident in all of the terminology and surveillance techniques in the book. But while the author is superb at writing these spy depictions, his skill at writing romance and sex scenes leave a lot to be desired in my opinion.
The best and most random part of this book may be the recipes. Each chapter ends with a recipe for a food or dish that was mentioned in the previous chapter. There are a lot of mentions of food and eating food in this book and I found myself trying to guess which meal would show up as the recipe.
The movie Red Sparrow does a fairly good job of following the book. There are some differences in the book and the movie and, as usual, the book goes more in depth. I found that I understood more of what was going on in the film since the book explains some things that are not clear in the movie.
Like I said – for the most part I enjoyed this book and I’ve already put the next 2 books on hold at the library.