Saturday, February 10, 2018
Book Review--Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Quite the bummer this one...
Covered with praise from numerous publications (USA Today, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, NYT, etc.) and coming from someone within the US Intelligence community (Matthews has years of experience working in the clandestine service of the CIA) I had high hopes.
I should have realized that given Matthews was given a 7 figure advance on the book and its two sequels before a word was put down and a movie deal signed shortly thereafter for Jennifer Lawrence to star in a film trilogy based on these books that this was no serious effort but instead a pre-packaged media driven vehicle to create a new "Hunger Games" (same director even) or "Twilight" series with only pretensions of seriousness.
Further hints of the lack of real work here comes up early on when the female protagonist, written purposefully for Jennifer Lawerence to play, is detailed to have a heretofore unknown version of synesthesia that gives her the superpower like ability to determine the character and truthfulness of another person via the colors she sees surrounding them like an aura. Over and over and over "this person is surrounded in yellow...this one is colored in blue...this one in red..." blah, blah, blah. Profoundly tiring and hackneyed one comes to view the female character as one of little real talent or intelligence but merely imbued with genetic abnormality that makes her good at her particular job.
And what is her job? Well, to even sell the film series more...she's a "Sparrow" a Russian agent trained to seduce foreign individuals with their physical wares...Insert eyeroll here...This serves only for the author to engage in his puerile sexual fixations and set up Jennifer Lawrence to parade around on film in skimpy outfits.
For those hoping to hear of true tradecraft I suppose there are nuggets here and there--the Russians using a "dust" of a kind that can then be scanned for on the personages of their own people to see if they have been in contact with other spies, etc....but mostly? Its stuff like "He left his hotel...he didn't want to be followed....so he walked around in a random pattern for hours looking for followers..." Great...real groundbreaking stuff.
If you want to read a trashy novel to prepare yourself to watch a trashy movie and think that you are being progressive because Putin makes multiple appearances in the novel as the ultimate bad guy string puller...this is all you...Roundfile this otherwise...