3 out of 4 stars
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What if you could find out when you will die? Would you want to know? Many would admit knowing when their end will come, while not exciting, is something they would still like to know. In Van Fleisher’s thought-provoking and timely fiction book, Final Notice, knowledge of your death is at your disposal thanks to VitalTech, a company that designed a watch with the special capability of detecting vital signs and alerting the wearer of imminent death. Once notified, the countdown begins and how you spend those final days is all up to you. But could this early notice be a bad idea after all? The device empowers terminally ill individuals by giving them control over their final days. How will they spend it? For some, it is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends or finally make use of their bucket lists. But for others, there is only enough time for one thing and that is exacting revenge. In Fleisher’s book, we enter a futuristic society where guns are more accessible than ever before, especially to the elderly. Together, the guns and watches create a chaotic society as the users of both devices race against time and death.
I liked the general idea behind the plot of people knowing when they will die and being unafraid of making bad choices because they think there will be no consequences. I found the plot to be unprecedented, which is what grabbed my attention from the start. What I found quite interesting about the backdrop of this story was the focus on the elderly and the implications the accessibility to guns have on their lives. There is a profound message in this book that I really liked and that is there is a need to “re-examine our attitude toward seniors”. I really appreciate that the author used discrimination against the elderly as a major theme in the book. Seniors are often mistreated or ignored and sadly become invisible to others. I really liked the way in which the author weaved this into a bigger story. Fleisher’s book was eye-opening and certainly will put readers into a contemplative mood. I had an opportunity to see things from the seniors’ point of view which made me do some introspection of my own.
However, although the title Final Notice gave me the impression I was in for a thrilling read all the way through, the book did not fully hit the mark for me. It was not necessarily a disappointing read but I felt there were some aspects of the book that were not needed and some areas of the plot seemed unfocused. I am not a fan of curse words so that definitely disrupted my read and is an element I think the book would have been fine without. Just like a good joke, I think a good book can do without curse words too. I think the author tried to include too many political themes which I think detracted me at times from the main story he really wanted to tell.
Final Notice is undoubtedly a timely and relevant book, especially where gun laws and mass violence in the United States are concerned. The stories are accurately aligned with the current political environment in the United States. I think it is this aspect of the book that will attract a wide audience. Fleisher’s book has a profound message for each of us. It is definitely a book we can all resonate with as it touches on issues that affect us all. Overall, the book was well written and had no glaring errors.
However, I have to strike a star off because as previously mentioned I felt it was lacking in a consistent and focused plot because of the other political issues such as immigration that the author threw in midway into the story. I felt the book began to sound more like a commentary hidden inside a story. To be honest, it was not a page-turner for me but I value the author's work and intent to spread a conscious and serious message about the direction we are heading in where gun violence is concerned. I would have given the book 3.5 out of 4 stars if it was possible but I will have to stick with a 3 out of 4 stars rating. The book is somewhat dystopian so readers who like that sort of content may appreciate this book. This is a great book to fuel deep discussion because it highlights a lot of present-day issues. I would also recommend it to those who like books that discuss political issues in particular. Lastly, it is a great book to incite reflection and introspection.
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