BOOK & FILM REVIEW: Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

You are bound by the situation to the extent you let yourself be.

My synopsis: When Dominika’s chance of being a prima ballerina is forever shattered, she is left with no choice but to work for her uncle in service to Russia to continue to provide for her mother. After training at Sparrow School to master the art of deadly seduction, exceptionally beautiful and synesthetic Dominika is the perfect secret weapon. Assigned to seduce Nate Nash, a young CIA case officer and handler of CIA’s most important mole in Russia, she becomes entangled in a dangerous romance and gets caught in a web of complex political machinations.

Published 2013

Series: Red Sparrow Trilogy #1


Genre: Spy Thriller, Espionage

Themes: espionage, Russia, CIA, spy, agent, secret agents, missions, romance, passion, attraction, sensuality, love of country, synesthesia, loyalty, trust

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository


Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow is sensual, thrilling, terrifying, and complex. Fast-paced and detailed, it is a plethora of action, politics, and romance. Set in beautiful and breathtaking locations all over the world with masterfully crafted protagonists and villains alike, it is unbelievably exciting and engrossing – a novel enticing to all of the senses!

Dominika Egorova has got to be the most layered and complex female protagonist I’ve read about – she is ideally cunning, fierce and strong and intelligent. But what I enjoyed reading the most about is her synesthesia – she sees people and their emotions/motivations in colors – an ability that certainly came in handy for her as a professional seducer and all-around exemplary secret agent.

I’m glad that Red Sparrow is only the beginning – it definitely left me panting in anticipation for the next installment! Doubly glad because the third installment also just came out last month!

Needless to say, I recommend it to everyone who’s looking for a great and thrilling read – it’s not one you want to miss! As a side note, I also think it’s much better than Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond novels (even though I’ve enjoyed immensely the two I’ve read: Casino Royale and Live and Let Die).

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When I first saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to watch it – this is before I even knew it was based on a book. Naturally, I read the book when I found out. After I read the book though, I knew there was no way a film will be able to do it justice!

I’m just surprised how disappointing the film was even after considering my toned-down excitement. 😦

Extremely sexual (verging on pornographic) and violent in nature, Red Sparrow just got a little TOO happy on both accounts. I think that these two elements overpowered all the good parts, and would have been at least tolerable, instead of distasteful, if turned down a notch.

Jennifer Lawrence made a perfect Dominika – I liked her cold-stone façade and she is certainly beautiful enough for the role. But I really don’t think the film took enough advantage of that role for her, understandably so, because that role and JLaw had a lot more to give.

I have to say that out of all the characters, I was most impressed by Matthias Shchoenaerts’ Vanya Egorov – Matthias lent the character an unmistakable presence onscreen, something that the character didn’t inherently have in the novel. I loved the mixed emotions I got while watching him – I didn’t know whether to hate, to sympathize, to understand, or to love him.

Having read the book before seeing the film, I was flabbergasted and most certainly delighted with the ending. It is the most liberal ending I’ve seen in a book-to-film adaptation (besting that of the Twilight franchise’s Breaking Dawn: Part 2 in the shock factor). I won’t say any more. I have to say that this might have been predicted somehow if I didn’t assume that the ending will at least be similar to the book’s conclusion.

Overall, if I were to rate the movie, I would give it a 6/10 – half of the rating accounted for by the marvelous ending. If you’ve read the book, I’ll tell you that you certainly should give it a go – that ending is worth it! If you haven’t – I suggest you don’t waste your time.

Have you seen the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Are you planning to read the book? Have you met a synesthete before / do you happen to be one?

Sincerely Peachy (1)

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