From Beauty To Ashes: A Tale Of Two Halves

Y’all know I try to not post negative reviews. It’s just how I tend to prefer running my page. I try to avoid reading books I won’t like so that I’m not stuck feeling like I have to explain why I don’t like a book. One of the reasons is that I know if there’s a book I dislike one of you probably would love it so I don’t want to color your experience. That said this will possibly be as negative a review as I give. As this book is already widely loved and revered I’m confident I won’t scare any of you away from it by sharing my personal opinion. Mild spoilers ahead. Ok. Let’s talk about The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

This book started out heartbreakingly beautiful! The whole first half of this story is a gorgeously tragic look into the heart of humanity and it is such a rewarding read! The first half is incredible! The second half is almost as if it was another book that the author was told they have to make fit into the pages of the story. It’s boring and uninspired. The beauty in this book was never going to be in the alien civilization, it was in the human interaction. The author lost that in the second half.

If the second half had only been the interrogation/debriefing then the story would have been true to itself. However that isn’t the story written, and the story written doesn’t measure the promise of the start. As a result I forced myself to finish this book, but I wish I had walked away halfway through it so that I didn’t have to read the second half and be this disappointed.

Please keep in mind I’m in the vast minority in my opinion on this book. Also I should note that it isn’t the fates the characters encountered that turns me off for the second half. It’s the story itself. The time spent on the planet was so boring, clunky, and dull. This author did such an amazing job looking into humanity, then lost the plot and thought the aliens were the story. They weren’t and a beautiful book was wasted. As it stands I finished it, and I won’t be reading the sequel.


4 thoughts on “From Beauty To Ashes: A Tale Of Two Halves

  1. Redhead

    for what it’s worth, i’ve never read the sequel either, and don’t plan to.

    Sorry to hear this one didn’t work for you, but I’m happy you gave it a try, and put the effort into writing out your thoughts for your blog. Writing negative reviews can be cathartic!

    1. redstarreviews Post author

      Some books are worth trying even when you don’t end up enjoying it and I think this one was worth trying! I’m still shocked by how much I disliked the second half after I lovedddd the first half.

  2. Jamie

    A shame that the book fell off so hard in the second half, I’ve had that happen to me recently with some wildly popular books. The beginning – awesome! Well paced, great characters, wow I see why people like this. Then it feels like everything has already been solved or the story runs out of steam at the halfway point and just drags from then on.

    This book has been on my TBR and I’ll probably still read it at some point, but I’ll definitely keep the shift in the story in mind. Great review!

    1. redstarreviews Post author

      If you’re considering reading The Sparrow I would still highly recommend trying even though I had s bad reaction to the second half. If only for the fact that I’m in the vast minority here on disliking it.


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