3 out of 4 stars
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Books with a single protagonist generally offer a narrative which is bildungsroman in nature. However, when this character is stoic, the development is close to zero. Lonely Expiation by Siegfried Finser is a surprising puzzle. Armand Dillon, the protagonist, is not a hero. He is rather an anti-hero whose progression is backwards. The story focuses on his dire need for social acceptance in an upper class culture. However, the means he uses to achieve is goal is quite twisted. For him, social acceptance is an equivalent to building contacts and neglecting emotions because 'feelings pollute intellect'. Through his manipulative ways, he attempts to trick his friends and enemies, eventually falling into his own trap.
The theme of class and social hierarchy is central to the plot. Interestingly enough, Armand doesn't belong to any class, he is a 'class himself'. I loved how the author has formed the characters. Even though there is close to little development in his character arc, Armand is still a pretty believable character. The phrases and expressions used to describe him are quite vivid. Through my reading of the text, I was able to picture a stone-like character with a frown permanently etched upon his face, devoid of any feelings. The narrative also reminded me of the concept of 'hamartia' introduced by Aristotle.
Another thing which I liked was the characterisation of Rachel. She is a contrasting character against the others from the elite class. She has been portrayed as a headstrong and rebellious young woman who doesn't prioritise class over her desires. However, she stands as a weak card for Armand to use against her family.
Apart from this, there was one thing which filled me with disappointment. The book seems as if it is not professionally edited. I was able to spot various misspellings along with misused punctuation and improper paragraph spacing. Editing is a crucial factor and it affects the readership to the extent where the reader might put down a good book due to frustration.
I am going to give this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. The story is certainly good enough to be recommended to others who might be interested in exploring unique themes such as artificial intelligence, consumer psychology and balanced idealism in the form of fiction. Apart from the multitude of errors, the plot is really well constructed. So, if you can handle a good read without minding the editing, go ahead.
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