Norman and I listen to a lot of books, and I decided to try Red Sparrow, maybe because it had been made into a movie. The book turned out to be a really good spy story. The sequel, Palace of Treason, was almost as good. But I was looking at reviews of the third book, The Kremlin’s Candidate, and could see that it ended very badly. Plus there were complaints that the author rushed through it, based on his forgetting a lot of details from the first two and his changed use of language. (You can draw your own conclusions about why that might have happened.) I don’t want to read the third book, but I did want to see what happened with a Hollywood treatment of the first.
We watched it on DVD, and I thought they did a pretty good job of boiling down a long book for the big screen. (Actually, it would have been a lot better as a Netflix series where they could have developed the characters and the plot.) They took a lot of shortcuts—like starting the movie well into where the book began and combining Dominika’s sparrow training with espionage officer school. Plus Joel Edgerton was all wrong for my mental picture of the hero. He was perfect for Zero Dark Thirty. But he doesn’t look like a guy who comes from an old Southern family with money.
After we saw the movie, I started reading reviews. A lot of people hated it. One guy was going to give it three stars, until he got to see Jennifer Lawrence naked. Then his enthusiasm went up significantly.
There’s a lot of exploitive sex in the movie, plus a lot of other violence and torture. But conversely, it doesn’t have as much action as the average movie based on comic-book characters. Nor does it have impossible acrobatic feats like jumping 10 yards from one building to another or hanging from a moving helicopter.
Many people couldn’t follow the twists and turns of the plot and weren’t sure about the heroine’s motivation. I had no problem because I knew the story, although the film changed a major element in the climactic moments. A lot of people thought that the relationship between the h/h was not developed well enough. Again, I got plenty of this development in the book.
If you saw the movie—give the book a try. And if you like a great spy novel, with lots of authentic details about how the CIA operates plus a good romance, you’re in for a treat.
Did you see the movie? What did you think? What about the book?
NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.