4 out of 4 stars
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Stress brings out the extreme in one’s personality. For some, it brings out the best. You’ve heard stories of a few strangers lifting a car off a child who has been run over. For others, it brings out the worst.
What would the stress reaction be if you knew you will die within 10 days? Would you rise and do great things with your last days? Or would the worst come out in you?
In Final Notice by Van Fleisher you will follow the story of several people, and those around them, in their journey on what they believe is the last days and weeks of their lives.
VitalTech, a new age medical device company has joined the health and fitness craze. Their group of engineers and doctors have created a sports watch with the normal features of tracking heart rate, blood pressure, steps taken, etc. What sets them apart in the sports watch world is a special feature with an algorithm that can predict, by your biophysical profile, when you will die. Through their development and alpha testing the accuracy is staggering. As a reader with experience in trials and testing, I found their results to be unbelievable. The process and planning behind the testing is very realistic. The writer obviously performed his research and diligence well. I would have liked to see the result a little more realistic, but as a reader, this is one occasion where it’s best just to accept the premise and enjoy the story.
When VitalTech becomes aware of a pattern of unnatural deaths around users of their VT2 watch, they launch an internal investigation. Not long after, the FBI notices the pattern as well and reaches out to VitalTech for information and to investigate the situation. As expected, once the pattern has been established at least one member of the press puts the pieces together and begins his own inquiry looking for a breakout story.
The story follows VitalTech and the FBI as the successful Phase I trial advances to Phase II and an additional, larger population of people begin to evaluate the product. VitalTech is confident their software performs exceptionally but questions their responsibility for the users’ actions once the product is placed.
This book includes one main story as well as several smaller story lines. The reader follows the characters as the writer explore each character’s history, relationships, and reactions when they receive their Final Notice. The author does a brilliant job of interrelating characters with those around them. Their backstories are deeply defined and cleverly written.
The big surprise comes as each character who receives a Final Notice takes the news, and how they react to it. The book is thought provoking. It’s impossible to read the book without asking yourself, “What would I do? How would I react? Who would I tell?”
The book is very deep, and at times very sorrowful. The writer also includes some humor and a little hint of romance, balancing those characteristics well. Although a work of fiction, some of the storylines follow reality closely. There is a strong similarity between some of subplots and the nightly news. Some readers may find this difficult to handle if they are too close to the factual basis of this work of fiction.
I enjoyed this book start to finish. There was suspense, intrigue, and enough truth in the fiction to give the reader a real sense of what could be, and possibly will be, when this type of technology hits the market. Notice that I say “when” and not “if” this technology goes to market. I think this book is closer to reality than the reader or even the writer knows. For that reason, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. If I could give a rating of 5 stars I would add that star solely on the content of the epilogue. Just when you think the story is over, the author treats you to a little something more.
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