Four Stars for “Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews …
Having seen the movie, I decided to purchase a copy of the book, something I do a lot of to compare books to movies. There were some differences, but both movie and book intrigued me. The only issue that caught me up once in a while was all the abbreviations for different organizations, and, to be truthful, keeping track of some of the Russian names! – but that does not take away from the story itself.
Honestly, I have no idea how any spy survives! The author, Jason Matthews, obviously knows how the system works, being a retired officer of the CIA’s former Operations Directorate. He served for over thirty-three years! Espionage, throughout time, is a dangerous game governments play in order to glean state secrets from other countries.
However, on to “Red Sparrow” …Dominika Egorova, an only child, brought up in Russia by parents who did not hold to the old Russian ways, but kept their secret hidden in their hearts. Dominika was a promising ballerina – until the accident, which ended her dancing dream. In steps her uncle, who is ambitious to move up the ladder and prove himself to the president. At this point, Dominika’s father has passed away, and her mother is ill. The apartment she and her mother live in is only by the grace of the state. Dominika’s uncle has a plan, and he basically blackmails his niece to work in espionage, using her mother’s security as collateral.
Dominika goes through extensive training, and she excels at everything she does. She also has a secret – she sees people through the colour surrounding them, and this is most advantageous to her during training, and later in the field. Dominika is finally given a job to do – get close to the American, Nathaniel Nash, – any way she can – and discover who has been stealing state secrets. As time goes, Dominika realizes she is working for the “old boys’ club” and her pride of country begins to dwindle, plus she sees in Nash, a man of integrity. His job, was not only the handler of the Russian spy, but he was to try and recruit her to the American side.
“Red Sparrow” is filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Both book and movie are worth the time to read and see, each one giving a slightly different perspective – both scary as to what goes on within the halls of government and law, while we, the people, keep our noses to the grindstone to make a living. “Red Sparrow” is not for the faint of heart, though.