Review: Story of a Sociopath by Julia Navaro gives a fright

By: Patrick Coveny, Spring Reporter

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Julia Navaro, a seasoned author with more than ten novels to her name, has gifted us with another provocative page-turner. Her newest publication, Story of a Sociopath, is eerily captivating, shedding light on the life of a fictional maniac. Now an international bestseller, Navaro has once again re-affirmed her status as one of the best voices in contemporary Spanish literature.  

The novel, which is written from the first-person point of view of protagonist/antagonist Thomas Spencer, is as harrowing as it is entertaining. The audience is taken on a eight-hundred page diabolical journey through the life and times of a heartless, apathetic, and self-centered monster. Spencer’s only goal in life is to further himself while destroying others.

As the reader progresses, Spencer is put through a multitude of compromising situations. As he excels as an ad man in New York, and later London, he does his best to destroy every obstacle, and every person, in his way. Navaro adds depth to this disturbed character, one the audience would usually loathe, by detailing the struggles of his early life.

Spencer recounts two different versions of his tale per chapter: the first, a recollection of actual events that happened, and the second, a telling of how events would have unfolded if Spencer were capable of emotion. This interesting technique makes for a complex narrative that never ceases to evoke emotion. Using this tactic, Navaro creates a sociopath with depth, and one it is possible to have sympathy for.

The author’s immense skill, and talent in other areas as well, is evident throughout. Also, Navaro’s novel never once felt boring, even as lengthy as it was. Scenes of suspense and excitement were written brilliantly and imaginatively. Navaro created vivid imagery through description without letting that description become redundant.

Although the topic at hand is unusual and frightening, there are lessons to be taken from the novel. Sociopath raises a vital question: why are people evil? Is Spencer incapable of feeling because of his horrid upbringing or is he innately immoral? The novel is symbolic of this very debate that has been had amongst mankind for centuries. Plus, this novel serves as a reminder that mental health is a serious issue that needs attention.  An unconventional story sometimes is necessary to efficiently articulate different lifestyles and human conditions.

In addition, the primary character’s interactions serve a greater purpose of exemplifying the means by which humans deal with evil. Some of Spencer’s business associates and family members developed anger at him, others felt empathy. Almost all fell victim to his manipulation, as he artfully pulled people to his side. These real-life scenarios are what makes the novel relatable.

Story of a Sociopath is just one great work in a fastly growing repertoire. Expect more engrossing, must-read works, of fiction in the near future from Navaro. In Spain, she has  already achieved superstar status as a fiction novelist. Navaro has yet to meet full recognition from American readers. Books like Sociopath prove this underrated author’s work is worthy of acclaim.

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