4 out of 4 stars
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Final Notice by Van Fleisher is a fictional story inspired by the author’s personal experiences and observations as he’s lived both in and out of the United States. The opening line is an attention grabber: What would you do if you knew—for certain—that you had one week to live? Vijay Patel had invented a technically advanced sports watch (called a VT2) that had the capability of not only monitoring, analyzing, and diagnosing complex health issues, but also could predict the user’s death within a matter of days. If the user’s vital signs were indicative of impending death, he/she would be issued a “final notice” message on the watch. Vijay and his company selected an alpha group of 100 people to test out the new product.
Throughout the book, the reader follows the lives of Vince and Trudi, an older couple, with their dog and circle of friends. The author alternates between Vince and Trudi’s story and the case studies of various members of the alpha test group who are using the VT2 and receive the “final notice” warning. A range of responses is presented as individuals are confronted with their end of life: from peacefully tending to their affairs and loved ones to the sad choice of suicide to the ruinous choice of revenge to the unthinkable end of mass murder without consequences.
The strongest theme of Final Notice is that our country is in dire need of adequate gun control. In addition, the author brings to light the poor perception and treatment of senior citizens in the United States. And if that weren’t enough, he also tackles the controversial topic of immigration. I was a bit wary when I realized that this book contained such controversial topics. In the middle I started to grow weary, but the characters’ lives kept me engaged until the end.
One of the aspects I enjoyed most about this story was how the author wove his message into the narrative of Vince and Trudi’s lives. He illustrated the progression of their view of guns, from disinterest to curiosity due to the current events in the world. He utilized Vince and Trudi’s circumstances to illustrate how easily one can be affected by fear and anger. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter, Van Fleisher was able to lighten the mood with some humor throughout the story. For example, the most memorable and entertaining part of the story to me was when Trudi and her friend Rasha attended the NRA event with a bold and daring plan in the hope of making a beneficial contribution to others.
I was pleased to see that the book had very few errors, giving the appearance of professional editing. Because of the author’s skillful technique in weaving complex and often controversial issues into the narrative, I rate Final Notice 4 out of 4 stars. If you are looking for a light and entertaining read, this is not the book for you. Additionally, if you are particularly sensitive to school shootings, be aware that those are presented in the book. However, if you are interested in being challenged to think more deeply and evaluate your society with fresh eyes, you will enjoy Final Notice.
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