4 out of 4 stars
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Final Notice by Van Fleisher is about a company called VitalTech, who created a "Final Notice" health watch. The watch gives the user a prediction based on their vitals like blood pressure and oxygen intake of their final days and the recommendation to call 911 and/or their doctor ASAP. While some people use the notice to get their affairs in order, others use the notice as a sign to commit violent acts, mostly murder. The novel also follows Vince and Trudi, an older couple in their late 60's, as they navigate through a world of guns, violence, prejudice, and uncertainty. Within the novel are many contributing characters like a senator trying to reverse some inconsistencies in the Senate, a family of Syrian refugees, and the employees from VitalTech.
I am not a gun owner, but it has crossed my mind on over one occasion. Van Fleisher does a wonderful job of showing both sides of the issue. I was worried about the introduction of so many characters but recognized the necessity and the thoroughness of the act. Each character that was introduced with a "Final Notice" and their actions gave evidence to why individuals made the decision and how some were based on instinct and others on morals. The novel doesn't pick sides, and I felt that was a significant indicator of a great author. Instead, I found myself in Vince's shoes. If I had a gun, how would I have reacted in each one of the "Final Notice" scenarios?
There were a couple of times I had to stop reading because the attitudes had me upset. However, it was not at the writer so much as the character. For example, there is a part in the story where the police officer assumes a dog attack was by a pit bull because it's a "breed that can become very aggressive, especially to other dogs." (Kindle Locations 2808-2809). That upset me as I know people feel this way, but it's not entirely true. However, the author adds in that another character states, "I have very little experience with dogs, but I think they are like children. Good parents reduce the chance of bad behavior." (Kindle Locations 3153-3154). This is just one example of how the author displays two sides of the same issue. There is no forcing the reader to believe in what he/she is writing but simply a new perspective to think about it.
The last items that stood out were the actions of VitalTech and the NRA in the novel. Starting with the NRA, I was disappointed with their actions or lack thereof. Giving a senior citizens discount for guns was a bit much for my blood as I work in healthcare. To be more precise, I work for hospice and I know my company is not comfortable having our staff walk into a situation where there could be even the shred of violence. I have patients who get angry at their bills, their diagnosis, or even the reason behind why they can or cannot get the drugs they want. If those individuals have access to guns, we are required to know about it, but to give individuals an even bigger avenue of access puts my team in jeopardy but also the patient if we cannot get to them in time. That, in my opinion, is something the legislation should consider. In the novel, it seemed that the NRA was more interested in sales than in safety though they used that word in their pitches. However, when it came down to the actions of a very violent scene, the representative showed no remorse or sadness for the family. Simply stated they should've had access to their own gun.
On the other side, I was encouraged by VitalTech. When the incidents came to their knowledge, the team met and had dialogue as to how to prevent them from happening. In one of the discussions, the creator even asked if they had a legal or moral obligation to the tragedies. They also began to work with law enforcement when the VT2 watch became a known connection. I felt this was encouraging as I did believe that the "Final Notice" was the precursor for those violent acts. Maybe if I had seen similar scenarios with the novel's NRA, then I would have been more at ease but the representative's statements, the discount, and the NRA-government relationship just made my blood boil.
Overall, I rate this novel 4 out of 4 stars, because it is very straightforward and makes the reader think about all the issues. There were a lot of characters with a lot of different scenarios, it wasn't hard to follow. It was, however, a lot of information for such a short novel. I recommend it to anyone who is thinking of owning a gun, as well as teenagers. It's a great novel to get our children, as future leaders, to start thinking from both sides of the fence and not just what they hear in their own homes.
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