Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews
(Sorry for misquoting some lines, I didn’t read it in English I’m just translating it from my native language, thanks.)
Red Sparrow is a book about post-cold war Russia and USA government spying on each other using various methods.
We follow the story of Dominika Egorova, who was sent into Sparrows school, a training school for learning how to professionally seduce important people into getting valuable information from them.
Dominika also has a type of synesthesia but she doesn’t just see numbers and sounds as colours, she sees people’s auras. For some reason. It doesn’t even help the story, but let’s not get into that.
After few years Dominika works for SVR and is assigned to seduce CIA agent Nate Nash and get information from him about who is Russian traitor leaking secrets to USA government.
Shockingly, Dominika and Nash realize they have feelings for each other, Dominika changes her loyalty from SVR to CIA and we read about her journey as a double spy.
Calling it USA propaganda would be very accurate, because USA is described as the ideal dream country, filled with honest, kind people. Every man was attractive, trustworthy and warm. (Unless they’re from FBI.) Every Russian man was ugly, bald, fat, cruel and manipulative.
Let’s talk about the author for a minute.
I usually don’t read books about women written by men because I don’t have patience to read about main protagonist’s breasts every two pages, but sometimes the book is kind to me.
Jason Matthews is former CIA agent who married also CIA agent and they have two daughters.
Sounds like he does have a proper respect for women and will treat his female characters right?
Surprise, surprise, he does not.
These are the actual lines from book “he was looking at his niece, at her blond hair, blue eyes and 75D chest,” “her breasts heaved in fear,” there was an action scene with shooting and dying people, but of course “Young guy hugged his wife. He may not realize they just started new life. His wife was attractive, her nipples were showing through her shirt.” But my favourite one must have been fight scene between Nash, Dominika and serial killer: “Dominika’s breast fell out of her bra and she was fighting with one nipple out.” Thank you, Mr Matthews, this was very important information, what would we do without this.
Another thing about the author. He likes cooking. So in every chapter the characters are eating some fancy meal and in the end of the chapter there’s a recipe for the said meal. I didn’t mind it that much but if you exclude every recipe and every lunch scene, the book would be 100 pages shorter. And it was obvious how no matter in what situations the characters were, they still had time for dinner.
Matthews tried to make it more authentic so he used many Russian words in direct speech. But those words were translated right after, so God forbid you understand Russian. Because you might read lines such as “What a stupid man, thought Dominika, what a stupid man.” “My love, my love.” Not annoying at all.
But… it still could have been worse. The story was often stuffed with irrelevant information, descriptions and backstories, but it kept moving forward and sometimes I couldn’t keep eyes away from the book. I wish the author changed the direction of his writing because it could have been interesting story about spies, tormenting, hired murderers and Sparrows. Putin was there too, poor guy. Instead we get this tiring cookbook.
It was made into movie starring Jennifer Lawrence so I watched it and I kind of enjoyed it so. Watch a movie, don´t buy a book (especially when you’re broke and you only buy it because main character has the same name as you), and I’m giving it 2/5 stars, not willing to read a sequel.