Cover Image: When The Sparrow Falls

When The Sparrow Falls

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Member Reviews

Dystopia takes many forms. This one is highly technical while also questioning the sense of self or identity itself. 
 It took me a while to get to grips with the content or the world. Unlike other dystopian scenarios, this does not look like it's based on the American continent. The world-building is not exactly unique but plays a spin on other such scenarios. We have a world where people are alive and breathing offline while AI has reached sentience that allows it its own territory. Within the location we spend the entire story, it is illegal to be a sentient code. 
In this grim reality where people with power monitor others and hold information close, there is upheaval in one person's life. Our lead protagonist, Nikolai South, is a tired agent who does the bare minimum to get by when he is surprisingly handed a very complex task that takes him by surprise. He finds out that old secrets might still have the capacity to hurt him.
Lives may be lived longer now, but the repercussions of that life and the quality are suspect. All of this makes this a complex read that gets clearer halfway in.
I would recommend this to fans of the dystopian/Sci-fi reads, both the faced paced or slower kind.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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Gripping dystopian sci-fi thriller set 100 years in the future, packed with twists and turns worthy of the best spy novels, and featuring echoes of George Orwell and Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

With the human race rushing to embrace AI and living their lives increasingly online, the Caspian Republic stands alone in outlawing machine living. 

In the midst of the ensuing cold war, a journalist is murdered and his wife needs permission to visit the authoritarian Caspian Republic. When anonymous, underachieving Security Agent Nikolai South is assigned to escort the widow, he begins to uncover a tangled web of incompetence and subterfuge. 

Reflective, poignant and darkly humorous. A great read.
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Enjoyable Sci Fi tale of the Caspian State and the day it formally allows the AI Lily Xirau to visit to identify her deceased husband. Nikolai South is the agent assigned to accompany her throughout her visit - only when she arrives it is his ex-wife he sees. Sharp writing and great characters throughout, thought provoking and all round entertaining.
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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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I really enjoyed this. In essence a dystopian thriller set a couple of hundred years into the future. Mankind has embraced Artificial Intelligence but the Caspian Republic is a hold-out nation desperately clinging on to a version of humanity and hunting down any sign of AI activists in the country. Sadly the Caspian Republic is reminiscent of the old East Germany and the Stasi with a network of spies and informers. It is a nation gently going under as it is shunned by the rest of the AI dominated world.
When a prominent pro Government journalist is discovered to actually be an AI, it is decided that his widow may visit from the US   to identify him. A minder is needed and the fall guy is a StaSec (State Security) agent who has spent many tears trying not to be noticed. Nikolai South thus becomes the thing he wants least, visible and responsible. And with the visit of the AI widow, he finds his world turned upside down and he has cause to review his own life and his choices over the years. And, through his narrative, we find out more about him, the Republic he lives in and the danger of the task he has been given.
Sometimes you can lob a lot of great and familiar themes into a book and the sum is greater than the whole. Not here, this is a clever and thought provoking book. Lots of things you will “sort of” recognise from the cold war to Bladerunner but it all works and makes you think about the essence of humanity and what it actually is to be human. So much else in here from an ancient mystery to a love story and plenty you will be thinking about long after you have finished the book.
A great novel.
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