I do love a good first contact story, and The Sparrow certainly fulfilled that criteria. The story was told both in the present and by flashbacks to the events leading up to the present situation, which encouraged an air of building tension as we slowly progress, unraveling the plot and answering questions as to what on earth had happened to the expedition in order for the situation to have reached the point that it is at in present day.
I found that this had a lot of similarities to another favourite of mine, Contact by Carl Sagan – Both involved picking up signals via a radio telescope, both involve mounting an expedition to the new galaxy and both involve first contact. Also both raise questions of faith, what it means to have faith and to question it in the grand scale of the universe and the discovery of life elsewhere. Sure I had a few qualms with some of the plot points but these could be easily overlooked.
It was fascinating to watch how our intrepid party coped with such a huge discovery, that we are not alone, and how things unfolded to the point where only one person returned, maimed and damaged. It was hard to imagine what could possibly have happened for things to have ended up the way that they did. An absorbing read that involved more about the nature of belief rather than it be a book about religion, and I look forward to reading the sequel.