Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
Summary: Children of God is the sequel to Mary Doria Russell’s 1996 The Sparrow, which saw a Jesuit mission to the planet Rakhat end in disaster. The sole survivor of that mission, a priest named Emilio Sandoz, returned a beaten and broken man, having suffered rape and mutilation at the hands of enigmatic aliens. Now the Jesuits want to go back to Rakhat, and they want Sandoz aboard the new mission. But Sandoz has renounced his priesthood and even found a measure of happiness with his new wife and stepdaughter. Meanwhile, on Rakhat, contact with the humans has thrown the local culture into turmoil, precipitating a war between Rakhat’s two sentient races. As forces conspire to send Emilio back to Rakhat–and toward a possible reconciliation with God–the planet verges on genocidal destruction. Children of God is a more polished novel than The Sparrow, and the story is equally compelling.
Well contrary to what the amazon.com review above says, I did not find this to be a more polished novel than her first, The Sparrow. That book was absolutely amazing, one of my favorite books of all time. Children of God was a pretty decent sequel, as sequels go, but I also did not find the story nearly as compelling as her first. The secondary characters were not as well developed, either, in my opinion, and there were far too many sad things that occured. I also was expecting a very climactic ending but was disappointed in that as well. It sounds like I hated the book, when I really did enjoy it, but it’s hard for me to compare it to The Sparrow because that book was honestly so damn good. It would have been nearly impossible for Russell to top that first one… so my criticisms are definitely harsh with that in mind. I am still very glad I read it, as it did tie up some loose ends and also introduce some stellar characters. Definitely a good book, just not excellent.