Why do we write tragedies? I know the Greeks thought that through pain and negative emotion we cleanse ourselves of bad feelings. Well, sobbing over a book just makes me feel worn out and sad.
The Sparrow was beautifully written and composed. The characters were believable and interesting, and I found the exploration of levels of faith to be intriguing. The entire book works from the past and the present to one event. The whole book, you know everyone but one person is going to die. I spent the entire book bracing myself for the deaths. I knew they were coming. That didn’t make it any less shocking.
The book alternated between present tense descriptions of the characters as they began and undertook their trip to another planet and descriptions of the one survivor after he returned to Earth telling his story of what had occurred.
I was a little disappointed that the moment the whole book was leading up to, the event that changed everything, was not told in present tense. I wanted to see and feel everything and instead it was all just told to me. It was like the difference between reading a book and having someone tell you a quick plot summary.
Instead of hearing and feeling and living with the characters as they died and suffered, the reader was put into the same position as the priests who were listening to the sole survivor tell his story. I suppose that made it easier to empathize with them, but I really didn’t care about the priests. I cared about the explorers. And they all died unceremoniously.
I was expecting them to die off one by one in tragic ways. But no. They were killed really quickly and in violent ways. Maybe the author was trying to shock readers. I was bracing myself for the deaths but I was still shocked.
I really appreciated that there was a paragraph that clearly demonstrated why the book was called The Sparrow. It made everything fit nicely, the whole tragedy packaged up with a neat little bow. And lots of sadness.