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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism is a work of fiction penned in the literary style by Joshua S. Joseph. Written for mature readers due to the presence of some adult language and situations, this thought-provoking novel plays on the themes of existentialism and meaning-making as its storyline plays out. Written in the style of a fictional memoir, we meet our protagonist Dak without any real indication of whether he is the hero of his own story or not and are left to decide that for ourselves based on his self-presentation and the circumstances and actions laid out for us as he undergoes a true crisis of self.
Author Joshua S. Joseph has crafted a fascinating read which brings into question the format of the traditional hero’s quest mythology and asks us to examine both life and literature through different lenses and perspectives. The narrative style presents us with an unreliable figure who is constantly in crisis over his decision-making, and this is both entertaining and frustrating to watch as Dak makes his choices and we sit back helplessly. This makes for really engaging reading and prompts many important questions about the nature of compassion, those we choose to help in our lives, and what our greater ambitions say about us as people. Overall, I would highly recommend Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism to readers who are fans of literary works, narrative fiction, and intelligent plays on duality, human nature, and the wider questions of philosophy around our choices.