WHEN THE SPARROW FALLS
1984 meets Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in a John le Carré thriller.
In the future, AI are everywhere - over half the human race lives online. But in the Caspian Republic, the last true human beings have made their stand; and now the repressive, one-party state is locked in perpetual cold war with the outside world.
Security Agent Nikolai South is given a seemingly mundane task; escorting a dead journalist’s widow while she visits the Caspian Republic to identify her husband’s remains. But Paulo Xirau was AI; and as Nikolai and Lily delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding Paulo’s death, South must choose between his loyalty to his country and his conscience.
I always get slightly wary when a book is billed as being the perfect mashup between two brilliant and important books. I always get excited, it always raises my expectations and a lot of the time I am left disappointed. When The Sparrow Falls is billed as ‘1984 meets Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ and I can’t think of a more apt description, except maybe to add it also reminded me of North Korea and the video game ‘Papers Please’.
The book really immerses us into the world of The Caspian Republic; a place where the people are starving, neighbours spy on each other for the government and the threat of disappearing due to the vague offence of ‘treason’ is commonplace. We also get snippets of books, interviews or official documents at the top of each chapter which helps to give us more background information and made the place feel more realistic. Our main character is Nikolai Smith, a government operative who is just trying to do the bare minimum to survive without sticking his head too far above the parapet. I loved Nicky’s tone of voice throughout the story – there is a real dark humour and dry wit to the book which had me giggling out-loud throughout and yet the end few chapters still managed to reduce me to tears.
As the book progresses we get introduced to quite a few characters and organisations which occasionally felt a little confusing but Sharpson’s assured hand guides us through the story well. It’s self-contained and the ending skips ahead in time to show us what has happened to the Republic itself and the key players within it which was really nice – there’s no pesky cliff hangers. I read a lot of books on NetGalley which I enjoy and are worthy of 5 stars but When The Sparrow Falls was one of those books I genuinely just lost myself in and enjoyed for the sake of reading, rather than thinking about needing to review. I think this is Sharpson’s debut novel (although he has written a lot of plays) and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next – he’s certainly an author to watch!
Overall, When The Sparrow Falls is one of my KINDIG GEMS for 2021 – a fantastic and grim read which is perfect for fans of 1984 – go out and buy this book as soon as it’s released! Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion – Solaris for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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