Thursday, 3 October 2013

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Twelve hours into his SDR Nathaniel Nash was numb from the waist down.

I know I'm reaching here, but a name that's an alliteration? A proud tradition following the footsteps of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse?

And what is SDR? Or FSB and SVR for that matter? The other abbreviations or acronyms littered about on the first pages: CIA, KGB,  MARBLE, NPPD, and US, I can figure out. There's lots of spy slang used early too: being black, The Game, seeing coverage and (I'm not sure if this is jargon or bad poetry) the belly hairs of surveillance. (All from paragraph one.)

Nevertheless the opening line raises a question and presumably introduces some tension or conflict, as being numb from the waist down cannot be a good thing. However, this sentence confuses more than incites curiosity - as if the writer is trying to hook by confusing readers so badly they must keep reading or go insane from discombobulation.

What follows is exposition and back story. Writer introduces the characters instead of the characters introducing themselves. Forward story: Nat is knackered.

First thing said:

"Good morning, Nathaniel."

Horribly written random line (from page 3):

MARBLE walked unhurriedly forward. 

Verdict: Fail

Sincerely,
Theodore Moracht

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