2 out of 4 stars
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Writers have often acted as the consciousness of society. Without getting atop a soapbox and preaching at readers, Van Fleisher utilizes this approach with his book, Final Notice, using a touch of science fiction to delve into the issue of guns, the NRA and school shootings. His premise asks the age-old question: what would you do if you knew beyond any doubt you would die in ‘x’ number of days. In answering, he spins morality against an unfettered opportunity for vengeance.
In the story, Final Notice, Vijay Patel created a watch, or rather a software program named VT2. The watch did tell time, but also constantly measured, analyzed, diagnosed and even predicted complex health issues including a wearer’s impending death with an incredibly high level of accuracy. It issued a ‘final notice’ warning when their body gave off telltale clues of their impending death. The VT2 was an order of magnitude beyond any fitness watch on the market and a sure winner in the eyes of the venture capitalist who fronted the money to form the company and develop the watch. Initially, the company ran an ‘alpha’ test of 100 subjects.
For a few in the test group, knowledge of impending death brought a realization they could act without the usual consequences. When they received their ‘final notice,’ they jumped on the opportunity to act out in ways that they otherwise never would have.
I found it satisfying to see Fleisher gave a slight nod toward the good some of the test subjects did after receiving their notification. Yet, after acknowledging that these good deeds tend to go unnoticed because they do not excite the press like murders and suicides, Fleisher drops the subject. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more about one or two of those good people instead of so much focus on the negative ones.
A particular part of this story that I enjoyed was that of Senator McAdam, a recipient of the VT2 in the beta test stage. Within 24 hours, he received a ‘final notice’ that his life would end in 20 days. I found his actions from this point to slide onto an unexpected path and while in some ways refreshing, his choice was morally questionable.
What I disliked in Final Notice, and the reason I rate it a high 2 out of 4, is that the author tends to provide many, sometimes large, info dumps rather than showing action. This was especially true when introducing some of the VT2 clients. Overall, I found Final Notice well edited. The story is provocative and flows, but because of the info dumps versus action aspects, has some spots that read more like a dull police report than an active slice of life.
The story presents an interesting set of situations, personalities, conflicts and choices of resolutions. It shows how easy access to guns plays a significant role in life in America and it makes a few, in my opinion well-founded, judgments concerning the rationality of what the NRA pushes and what it stands for.
I believe that those who are strong pro-NRA advocates and/or those who think we need no gun controls will find some attitudes and situations in Final Notice that may not be to their liking. For those who like to live in the “what if” world of speculation, more specifically those who think America already has too many guns, I can recommend Final Notice as an eventful journey, with a curious ending some might even find satisfying.
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