Review by Astrolorraine -- Final Notice by Van Fleisher

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Review by Astrolorraine -- Final Notice by Van Fleisher

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[Following is a volunteer review of "Final Notice" by Van Fleisher.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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FINAL NOTICE: What would you do if you knew – for certain – that you had 10 days to live? by Van Fleisher answers the question in the title with a dozen characters whom we follow as they grapple with gun ownership and personal responsibility. In this story, a new fitness watch called VitalTech2 is rolled out by a technology start-up. It is so accurate that it renders most forms of blood testing obsolete and can even predict a month in advance when the wearer is going to die – hence the “final notice”. The reader follows a cast of elderly anti-gun people and their reactions to those handed a final notice who became murderers with impunity. The main themes in this book besides gun ownership ethics are immigration and geriatrics.

What I liked most was the premise of this book. Everybody has wondered at one point how much total time they have, and having the answer would raise plenty of interesting questions. All the main characters are left-wing, educated anti-gun old people who are either immigrants or whose best friends are immigrants. I relate to all those except age, so I fully expected to love this story. I also liked the geriatrics aspect of it as it is not something I’ve come across a lot. A lot of the book focuses on how the elderly grapple (or not) with new technology and the feeling of being out of the loop. Another major theme is how old age makes you more vulnerable and an easier target for people with ill intent, and how owning a firearm may level the playing field and help the elderly feel safer day-to-day. Those are feelings most people will be confronted with eventually and I liked being made to wonder about how I will deal with these things later in life.

However, what I liked least was the execution of the concept. Despite my being roughly the target audience, most of the book felt incredibly tedious, drawn-out, and predictable. It reads almost like a third-person diary or chronological account of every mundane detail about who did what, who said what, and who thought what with only the bathroom breaks being thankfully omitted. There are entire paragraphs about people setting up appointments for meetings. Every dialogue includes things that are normally omitted like the endless pleasantries exchanged when saying hello or goodbye. In one instance, the reader is told exactly how many minutes a character takes to reach a parking lot, how many dollars they spent on the parking ticket, their thoughts while paying as well as memorizing their parking spot, why they memorized it, and how they feel about why they had to memorize it – none of it was relevant to the plot or character arc in any way.

Another problem is the predictability of the story. Almost every conversation is either about how amazing immigration is, or how scary firearms in the wrong hands are – often both. Every secondary character’s plot time is a chapter detailing how they came to their current political beliefs until they get their "final notice" and how they react to it. The ending “climax” is telegraphed from the beginning, and there is barely any suspense due to the drowning of any tension in an ocean of unnecessary details.

Finally, it is also very black-and-white in its political commentary. With only one exception, every Republican is a “moronic mouth breather” – that is an actual quote. Every Democrat is brilliant, kind, open-minded, and humble. Even the humor mocks the right – Breitbart in this story is called BrightFahrt, a pro-gun politician’s name is Dumble, etc.

In a nutshell, for me, this story has way too much telling and not enough showing. The lack of subtlety in its constant praise of left-wing values felt tedious, even to the leftist that I am. I can only recommend this to extremely anti-gun people, the staunchest leftists, and possibly masochistic right-wing/pro-gun folks. There were some typos but not enough to distract me and the book seems professionally edited. For these reasons, I rate this a 2 out of 4 stars.

Final Notice
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