Book Review: Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (Six Stars)

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Book Review: Children of God (The Sparrow #2) by Mary Doria Russell

Six Stars

“It wasn’t your fault.” “Tell that to the dead.”

Six? Yes, this is what comes from giving five stars so liberally. This is the best book I’ve read this year (102 and counting), not just the best science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction or biography. Why didn’t it win a cluster of awards? Was it as fun to write as to read?

“Rain fails on everyone; lightning strikes some.”

Not necessary but recommended you read The Sparrow first. Russell skillfully weaves in the backstory when you need it.

“No one was deliberately evil. We all did the best we could. Even so, what a mess we made of everything.”

Each character the protagonist of his or her own story. Russell assures no actors are bad or good in their own eyes. Each point of view character does what seems sensible and right by her or his standards.

“The individual was a lens through which the past looked on the moment, and changed the future.”

In addition to taking us deep into the minds and society of two alien species, Russell explores very human motives, goals, and limitations.

“Maybe poetry is the only way we can get near the truth of God. And when the metaphor fails, we think it’s God who failed us.”

Again, her delving into Roman Catholic politics may mystify or offend, but it deepens the stakes for those characters attached to or in conflict with Rome. The psychological angst is realistic and varies appropriately. So much internal conflict may put off superficial readers, and of course the faith themes will seem quaint if not offensive to some.

“The redemptive power of suffering is, in my experience at least, vastly overrated.” “Too Franciscan for me.”

Best use of the Schrodinger paradox, which is normally misapplied: “…because you believe in God, maybe there’s going to be a God for you, when you get out of the box.”

Quibble: Sustained 1 g acceleration of a massive asteroid is critical to the story’s timeline. Impossible with current technology, but that’s all covered with hand waving and smoke.

“Love is a debt … you pay in grief.”

Read it.

“Probably he’ll just be another poor clown doing the best he can, trying to get things right more often than not.”

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