The Sparrow

{5/5} “Since proposing the mission, Emilio had been take aback by the pace of things… And if the speed of events scared him, the precision with which the pieces were falling into place was even more unnerving. He went sleepless, unable to decide which was harder to live with: the idea that he had started all this, or the possibility that God had.”

The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell, published in 1996

For the first time a signal is received on Earth from aliens. The aliens seem to be singing, so they’re dubbed the Singers. The Jesuits put together an expedition to seek them out. For Father Emilio Sandoz, he’s hoping to find God. Things go horribly wrong and Sandoz is the only survivor who makes it back to Earth.

Chapters alternate between Sandoz back on Earth struggling with what’s happened, and the crew preparing for and later heading off on the expedition. The characters are terrific — they will grab you and keep you reading.

Although it ends up being quite disturbing, the speculation is brilliant. It’s about misunderstandings that lead to tragedy, but it’s also about friendship, the search for God, and getting to know an alien species.

This is the 1st book by Russell I’ve read.

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