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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars -- Definitely Worth Reading But You'll Need To Be Patient With It!
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review, which follows.

I am an avid reader of thrillers and am particularly a fan of espionage thrillers. So, I figured that Red Sparrow would be "right up my alley." However, the book's slow pace during the first hundred pages kept me undecided as to whether I was liking...
Published 14 months ago by Bobbewig

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Spies. And dinner.
This was a very odd reading experience. At a fundamental level this is a spy thriller with a focus on a female Russian agent. And there is a bit of a love story. And, er, there are lots of recipes.

So, to the thriller. Starting with a very strong perspective on our Russian we see her grow into a role as an intelligence agent, mainly due to her incredible...
Published 1 month ago by Nick Brett


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars -- Definitely Worth Reading But You'll Need To Be Patient With It!, 11 Jun 2013
By 
Bobbewig (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Hardcover)
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review, which follows.

I am an avid reader of thrillers and am particularly a fan of espionage thrillers. So, I figured that Red Sparrow would be "right up my alley." However, the book's slow pace during the first hundred pages kept me undecided as to whether I was liking it or not. This is because it took me awhile to get used to the fact that Red Sparrow wasn't going to be a book filled with lots of physical action -- e.g., fist fights, gun fights, killings, dramatic car chases, etc.-- that I've come to expect from books of this type.

Soon after, however, I realized that Red Sparrow is an espionage thriller that is several notches above the typical book in this genre. It is filled with many fully dimensional, credible characters and location descriptions that make you feel that you are there experiencing all of the deceptions, schemes, and double crosses involving the various CIA and Russian intelligence agents and politicians --some of whom are moles for both sides. Further, it becomes quickly obvious that first-time author and former CIA operative, Jason Matthews, really knows his subject matter, as Red Sparrow is filled with an abundance of information about the inner workings within both the U.S. and Russian intelligence organizations that is not only interesting, it serves to create an atmosphere that keeps the reader shaking his/her head in wonder.

As if this isn't enough to entice you to read Red Sparrow, perhaps the following facts will convince you to do so: (1) two of its main characters, CIA agent Nathaniel Nash and Russian agent Dominika Egorova, will stay in your mind long after finishing the book, and will have you looking forward to the author writing at least one more book featuring them to find out what the future holds for them; and (2) its plot is filled with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing as to what happens next, and an ending by which you will most likely be very surprised.

Highly recommended to those thriller readers willing to be patient enough to finish a book that will ultimately make them consider Red Sparrow to be among the better thrillers they are likely to read this year.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Tiff (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Hardcover)
Red Sparrow is Jason Matthews' debut novel - and it is brilliant! I instantly wanted to read it all over again the second I finished it. It is a USA-v-Russia spy thriller. A fast paced, adrenaline building, edge-of-your-seat read. I LOVED it!

I've never read a book like it and I wouldn't have picked it up from a bookshelf so have discovered a fabulous new genre to read.

CIA operative Nate Nash is undercover in Moscow. He is young, eager to get on and handling one of the CIA's prize double agents - MARBLE.

Dominika Ergorov, former prima ballerina, is a fledgling of spy school and sparrow school as so doubly dangerous. What no-one knows is that she can see the colours of emotions in people - a triple threat. It is Dominika's task to honeytrap the American Nash and discover the identity of the double-agent traitor. So begins a cat and mouse chase. Who will uncover the other's secrets first?

I am not sure if it is usual for spy thrillers to have strong female leads - perhaps more recently due to the Larsson effect. However, I feel Dominika is a great character. Hard, unflinching, sultry, lonely - she's wonderful.

Red Sparrow being a Russian spy thriller contains much Russian language and culture which added to the authenticity and therefore my enjoyment of the book. The character traits were also fascinating and from my experience accurate - well done Mr. Matthews.

A fun aside to this thriller is that it contains recipes - yes, that's right - the recipe for something the characters eat appears at the end of each chapter and as I read I found myself guessing what it would be. I plan to try several of the recipes...delicious!

Red Sparrow is a real page turner - a fabulous debut from Jason Matthews, an ex CIA operative. His knowledge and experience gives the novel an honesty and depth that I'd imagine would be difficult to achieve unless you've been there.

I would recommend Red Sparrow to everyone. Its not typical male adventure thriller genre so ladies, do not be put off, but its publishing date does make it a great Father's Day gift.

I will be looking out for more Jason Matthews books in the future.

A huge thankyou to @Dark_pages for the ARC.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Spies. And dinner., 16 July 2014
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Paperback)
This was a very odd reading experience. At a fundamental level this is a spy thriller with a focus on a female Russian agent. And there is a bit of a love story. And, er, there are lots of recipes.

So, to the thriller. Starting with a very strong perspective on our Russian we see her grow into a role as an intelligence agent, mainly due to her incredible ability to read people and their emotions. She is caught up in Russian politics and then the dark space of spying, honey traps and espionage. The story them takes a direction towards US and Russian mole hunts, very much an intelligence game of chess and out young lady and a young American agent also have key parts to play in that game of deception. So, as a spy story it felt well written, realistic and intelligent with plenty to keep you interested throughout.

This would have been a four star read had it not been for…the recipes. For some utterly bizarre reason the author decided to introduce lots of food into the story and then finish the chapter with the recipe. So in the narrative, you may find a character eating a sandwich and you know that come the end of the chapter you will know more than you ever wanted to about how to make that sandwich. In my humble opinion this was a terrible idea and an utter distraction to the story. When it first occurred I was desperately trying to work out the context with the story and then it appears time and time again and you realise it is just the author having fun. The crime here is that it takes you out of ’the zone’ where you are immersed in a story and the characters. Utterly daft self-indulgence that takes a star off for me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking title with homage to those who have gone before, 14 Jun 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Hardcover)
There used to be a time in books when someone standing on a street corner smoking a cigarette, would hint more at a Spy thriller rather than some seedy opportunity for some book john to take advantage of so when this title arrived I was not quite so sure what to expect from this author's Spy Thriller release.

Set in modern day Russia, it's a book that not only took its time to bring you into the dark world of not only political double dealing but also high stake missions all round made this a book that was not only hard to put down but also kept you guessing as to the outcomes of each situation alongside wondering how each choice would come back to retaliate on the principle hero.

Its definitely a book that was gripping as well as giving me that wonderful return to the old black and white films of my childhood sat with my grandparents and all round gave me a great feeling of nostalgia. A great book and one that I was more than pleased to have read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant........Fantastic, 24 July 2014
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Paperback)
This is an absolutely brilliant spy story. It is rich in detail, utterly convincing and very, very exciting. Whilst the writing is not as good as John Le Carre, the construction of the plot is on a par with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and the Smiley/Karla trilogy. A totally fascinating insight into the deadly war of espionage fought between the United States and the Russian Federation. Charles Cumming's review in the New York Times is absolutely spot on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 12 July 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
I thought it was a fantastic read. Looking forward to his next book. I would give it five stars.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow and predictable, 15 May 2014
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Mass Market Paperback)
I often judge a book by the length of time it takes me to read it. If I can finish it in one to three days, I would usually say I've read a great or interesting book. This one took me nearly two weeks because I was just never drawn back to it.

It was just so slow to get going as the two main characters were being prepared to enter the plot more fully. I really did keep wondering when the story was going to start. The pace did lift in the last quarter of the book, but that change wasn't accompanied by any improvement in the plot.

There were no typos to speak of, but there were some punctuation issues and geographical inaccuracies, which surprised me somewhat. There were also some very strange word choices early in the piece, almost as if the author was trying to show that he was aware of more complex words when simpler ones would normally have been used. I found the early use of acronyms, without explanation, a bit annoying too. And the reason for closing every chapter with a short recipe, often incomplete, escaped me.

There were many strong signals showing that the author knew his stuff in and around the world of spies extremely well, but I felt he yielded some interesting pockets of information at the expense of delivering a more captivating story. 5/10
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2.0 out of 5 stars A poor choice, 19 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
This book started rewasonably with an interesting story line and then descended into juvenile posturing. The characters - particularly the " Baddies ( Russian ) were awful and cruel, whereas the "goodies" were flawed but noble. Lacking any sublty this is just a fall back to cold war cliches. A bad buy by me - avoid the book if you can.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Read, If Not For..., 16 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
I quite liked the story line and the plot -- rather gripping. The style is sophisticated which puts the novel close to the rank of classics. However, as another reviewer mentioned, the two-dimensionality of the characters, their black-and -whiteness puts it down in the same league with comics stories. Which is a pity because the author's writing is very graphic and atmospheric, and you can easily visualize the scenes right in front of you.

But the most jarring thing in the novel, IMO, is the use of Russian words and phrases--in most cases they are incorrectly 'pronounced', understood and used by the author. Most if not all of them sound very 'American' -- that is they are what Americans 'think' Russians say, but not what and how they say them in reality. Unfortunately, it's a real turn-off for native Russian speakers. Because the author uses Russian phrases extensively throughout the novel, he could have done himself a favor and found help from a native Russian speaker (preferably not someone who lived in America for most of their lives). Unless, of course, the author didn't plan to target Russians speakers as his potential readers in the first place. Just my 2 cents.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real spy story, fantastic unputdownable read., 26 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
If you are a fan of Deighton, Cummings, le Carre, Adam Hall or even Ian Fleming read this book! It is brilliant. Everything about it is just great. I have tried the Greek shrimp recipe and it is great. Going to try the Russian cheese wrap thingies next. Read this book it is great and has recipes that are just a bonus.
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Red Sparrow
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Mass Market Paperback - 29 April 2014)
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