Audiobook Review – Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason Matthews

Posted March 9, 2018 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2018 / 4 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason MatthewsRed Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Narrator: Jeremy Bobb
Series: Red Sparrow Trilogy #1
on June 4th 2013
Length: 17 hours and 55 minutes
Genres: Spy Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible

Also by this author: Palace of Treason, The Kremlin's Candidate


An impossible to put down, highly commercial espionage thriller written by a CIA insider.

In today’s Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow. Seeking revenge against her soulless masters, Dominika begins a fatal double life, recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington; hunt down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Putin’s intelligence service. Dominika and Nathaniel’s impossible love affair and twisted spy game come to a deadly conclusion in the shocking climax of this electrifying, up-to-the minute spy thriller.

In a not so fictional world, moles have infiltrated both the U.S. and Russian governments and it’s often difficult to determine what side anyone is on. Nathaniel Nash is a CIA officer in charge of handling CIA assets, most important of those is MARBLE, a Russian mole that is a high-ranking foreign intelligence officer that has been selling secrets to the United States for years. Dominika Egorova is a Russian intelligence officer, recruited by her uncle the deputy director of the foreign intelligence service, but is forced into attending Sparrow school where she’s taught the art of seducing her enemies. She’s also gifted with synesthesia which allows her to see emotions as colors — quite helpful when it comes to detecting whether someone is lying or not. When Dominika is instructed by Russian officials to use her Sparrow skills on Nate Nash in order to uncover the mole he was hiding, it quickly becomes more than just an assignment.

“Trouble is the beginning of disaster.”

Red Sparrow is Jason Matthews’ first novel but it certainly reads like it was penned by someone with a skilled hand, likely due to his own 33-years of experience as a CIA operative. Red Sparrow reads like a far more sophisticated version of the majority of spy novels, undeniably missing the pulse-pounding action sequences but instead is a nuanced psychological game of chess. He details what would easily be considered the superfluous minutiae of what it means to be a spy but these details effectively build up rather than diminish the complexity of the story as a whole. His experience in the intelligence world certainly shows and this textbook guide on how to be a spy is cloaked with the cover of a fiction novel. Just in case you were worried this was going to be too serious, Matthews includes a recipe at the end of each chapter (the recipe for the Creamed Horseradish sauce had me drooling.)

Red Sparrow, as I stated, certainly lacks the standard pulse-pounding action sequences, but the espionage being conducted for almost 18 hours in this thrilling audiobook concludes with higher than before stakes in the most dangerous of games. I’m even more excited for the film now.


Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
Casino Royale (James Bond (Original Series) #1) by Ian Fleming



4 responses to “Audiobook Review – Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason Matthews

    • The menus were actually food items that the characters had eaten in the chapter so that was interesting. And it was typically Russian food that sounded all sorts of amazing. I’m really interested in seeing the movie too. And how fascinating! I always wonder about when authors include stuff like that whether or not they get it right. I also wonder if it’ll be included in the movie… would be interesting how they portray that.
      Bonnie recently posted…Audiobook Review – Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason MatthewsMy Profile

  1. Okay, an attempt at a spoiler-free response: On one hand, the entire concept of the Sparrow program is incredibly exploitive to the women (and men!) who were enrolled in it. The film doesn”t shy away from showing exactly how the students are trained to be Sparrows. On the other hand, the plot of the movie does NOT go in the direction you expect at the end. Dominika”s ultimate goals definitely break with spy-thriller tradition in a way that I found satisfying. To put it a different way: I found the sex scenes incredibly uncomfortable, whereas my husband found the torture scenes incredibly uncomfortable.

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