Red Sparrow plunges us into the high-risk, action-packed world of international espionage. The first character to come to most people's minds when thinking of spies would probably be James Bond, and Nate Nash, heroic American spy meeting with his Russian moles while avoiding baddies trying to intercept him on the street, does fit in with the dapper, attractive 007-type of figure. He even has the cool spy-gadgets to help him !
Then in comes Dominika, who is diametrically opposed to Nate, a wolf in sheep's clothing, like a souped-up Bond girl who would be more than a match for her unsuspecting male counterpart. She is cunning and calculating, has Russian family heritage entrenched in the underworld of high level espionage and also a rather handy hidden secret weapon : the ability to see the colour of people's auras, detecting their motives and personalities.
I had a hard time getting into the feel of the book to begin with, because it seemed to be going in too many different directions at once. The high octane car chase reminiscent of a Hollywood movie; the budding love story between the two opposing spies; the harrowing account of the torture and murder prevalent in the Russian authorities; the sordid, voyeuristic account of Sparrow School, or "whore school" as Dominika scathingly calls it, where Russian spies learn to become manipulative seductresses using sex as a weapon, and which left me wondering for a moment if my husband was trying to tell me something and had sneakily replaced my usual bedtime reading with a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey ! I ultimately decided that this constant change of tone and atmosphere was actually quite representative of the chameleon-like spies, but it still wrong-footed me in the early chapters.
Another thing that I absolutely loved as a foodie but which seemed totally and strangely out of place was the recipes suggested at the end of each chapter. This just seemed a very strange addition to an espionage thriller (although I must admit, I will be trying some of them out !).
I wasn't surprised to learn that the novel was written by a real-life ex-CIA operative who gives an authentic and eye-opening glimpse into their world of secrets and danger.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £12.99
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (4 Jun 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1471112586
- ISBN-13: 978-1471112584
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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