To Russia with Lust: Reviewing The Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Hello everyone! I finally have a book review to give you and I am so happy to share another nerdy side of me. I have mentioned before that I love mystery/thriller novels but I have never mentioned that I love spy novels. In fact, I love the spy genre in general. I’ve seen almost all of the James Bond movies and I do have a few of the original novels but I haven’t gotten to reading them yet. I had a bit of a phase when I was younger where I was really into spy stuff. It kind of stuck with me after all of these years. I will now talk to you about The Red Sparrow, the first book of the Red Sparrow trilogy.

Dominika Egorova, wanting to become the perfect spy for Russia, finds herself in the infamous “Sparrow School” where she trains in the art of seduction. Nathaniel Nash, wanting to break away from his family’s legacy, decides to join the CIA and is caught in the middle of a new kind of Cold War. The two promising young spies are pushed into the dangerous world of sexpionage, double agency, and secret alliances. Dominika and Nate must find a way to survive their missions and save their countries.

Spy novels have somewhat fallen out of trend but Matthews brings a new angle to the genre as he worked for the CIA. This knowledge certainly shows in the writing and I found it fascinating. I enjoyed the character of Dominika. She has synesthesia, which plays in really well with her skill set. I definitely found myself rooting for her throughout the book. Nate was also an enjoyable character. He was charm but he isn’t meant to just be James Bond knock off. Some of the pacing in the book was a little off when it gets to chapters that are solely about different government officials meeting but I guess that is where some of the realism plays in. Spying is not that glamorous of a job. I do feel obligated to give a warning that there are a few scenes of sexual violence in this novel that were a bit hard to read at times. There’s also a lot of jargon that I didn’t quite understand but I appreciated the use of it. Other than that, I really enjoyed this novel and definitely enjoyed unravelling all of the mysteries. I’m going to go ahead and recommend The Red Sparrow if you are interested in spy novels. I will definitely try to read the rest of the trilogy as I cannot get enough of this stuff.

Note: I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ve heard mixed reviews, though. If you’ve seen it, let me know if it is worth it.