3 out of 4 stars
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Mr. Aicher describes himself as writing "philosophical fiction." In the case of The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks, I would have to agree. It is classified as dystopian on Amazon, and I would definitely call this post-apocalyptic.
Mr. David S. Sparks wakes up in the middle of a field with no memory of how he got there or who he is. He knows his name, but not much more. Luckily, he finds someone nearby known as either the Preservationist or Calvin. Calvin proceeds to tell him about the world as it is, as well as something called "The Cause."
Scientists started developing ways for people to live longer and longer. While this was great, it created a bit of a problem: there were more people than food. Farmers then came out with new pesticides that helped the crops grow more successfully to be able to feed all the extra mouths. There were, however, unfortunate side effects; people started dying. Even after the pesticides were discontinued, the crops had adjusted, and people continued to die. The land was poisoned. The remnants were forced to move to the sea while the land healed.
Now the world has fractured into two factions. There are those who think that the population can be saved through genetic modification and science. Then, there are others who believe that the best thing to happen is to stop using all technology and go back to the "old ways." So, which side is Calvin on? And who is David Sparks and why can't he remember?
I have to admit, I started off a bit confused in this story. The author doesn't allow us to know any more than Mr. Sparks knows, which is not much. I believe that the author does this on purpose which I found both good and bad. On the good side, it allowed me to really become part of the story as you really feel like you are living the protagonist's life. It also added an element of mystery which pushed me to keep reading so as to figure it out. Furthermore, once I got into the story, I really enjoyed being made to think about the book and figure out for myself how the pieces fit together. Negatively, it was complicated to keep track of the story as the author jumps around in the timeline some.
I also found this post-apocalyptic world that Mr. Aicher created to be unique and intriguing. It felt very realistic as if what the author describes could actually occur sometime in the near future. This is where the philosophical nature of the fiction comes in; you find yourself thinking about your choices in life and the way the world is headed. Is there something that we should be doing differently to stop this from happening? What's more, this world was unique from many I have read in the post-apocalyptic genre (which is increasingly hard to find any more.) I have to give kudos to the author for coming up with something fresh.
The book seemed to be edited well, as I only caught a few grammatical errors. Unfortunately, the formatting left something to be desired. None of the paragraphs were indented nor was there any kind of space between them. While it wasn't horrible, I did find it somewhat distracting to the story.
I rate The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks 3 out of 4 stars. I found the story very enjoyable and would recommend it to dystopian lovers who enjoy having to think while reading their fiction. However, the formatting issue and confusing nature of the beginning did lead me to not give this a full rating. Additionally, I felt the ending was left open for a future sequel. If there is another book pending, I for one would love to read it as I really enjoyed the world that Mr. Aicher created.
The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks
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