95 points, 5 STARS!
In the sequel to The Sparrow, we find Emilio Sandoz on Earth, only still barely recovering from his ordeals on the planet Rakhat. The Jesuits want him to return, and despite Emilio’s objections he cannot escape that planet. Meanwhile on Rakhat, the original mission has sparked something in the people.
“The problem with atheism, I find, under these circumstances, is that I have no one to despise but myself. If, however, I choose to believe that God is vicious, then at least I have the solace of hating God.”
WARNING: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES READ THE SPARROW AND CHILDREN OF GOD BACK TO BACK!
“I don’t need that kind of pain in my life twice.” That’s what I said at the end of my review for the Sparrow.
Apparently I did need that kind of pain twice, because in some ways Children of God was even more painful to get through than The Sparrow. How the hell was this worse than the last for Emilio?! I don’t rightly know! I thought the previous book was as bad as it was going to get. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
I really should not have read this so soon after The Sparrow. Learn from my pain! Take a break between the two!
I feel like I’m dying inside.
Where The Sparrow went back and forth in time between chapters, Children of God goes back and forth between planets. There are two stories going on between the two planets: Emilio’s continued healing, and Rakhat’s cultural revolution. I believe The Sparrow stands alone very well. However, I really needed to get Emilio to a point where he is as healthy and happy as he can be, for my own piece of mind. I really love Children of God simply because it exists for that reason alone. However, the reverse isn’t true: Children of God would be meaningless without The Sparrow, and should not really be attempted without having read the first book.
The story of Emilio on earth is exactly what I wanted out of Children of God. He has gotten some time behind him from the events that destroyed him. He still doesn’t believe himself to be a priest anymore, but he is healing. He is capable of taking care of himself. His body is getting stronger. It is everything that comes after Earth that broke me. And everything about it is deeply enough spoilers that I refuse to speak more of it. It isn’t as shocking as what happened in the Sparrow, but it hurt me even more, probably because it wasn’t shocking, just heartbreaking.
The story of Rakhat and the revolution isn’t actually anything that is unexpected. From The Sparrow, you learn that the Runa are a prey sentient race and the Jana’ata feed on them. You know that the presence of the exploration party Emilio was a part of managed to change the views of the Runa about themselves and spark a change in thinking. When you already know this, it is easy to see that revolution is coming. However, there is a surprise waiting on Rakhat.
Both stories combined to make me fall in love with Children of God just as much as I loved The Sparrow. I was wrapped up in both of them. There weren’t as many people to fall in love with this time around, though. Emilio stays away from most people, now. The story on Rakhat never really gave me anyone to love because of how it jumped around. There are a few people to love, and I love them even more dearly for what they became for me. There are even more people that I hated. It was a good balance.
I’ve heard someone, somewhere (I don’t remember) say that Children of God was to give Emilio restitution. To which I say emphatically: no. It is to break you down even further. It ties up loose ends, but it is to show that just when you think nothing else could possibly go wrong for a soul so wrongly hurt already, more could go wrong.
I fucking loved reading Children of God. I just wish I had waited a week between books instead of a few hours.