4 out of 4 stars
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I read the Kindle edition of Final Notice by Van Fleisher. The premise of the book is that knowing the time of death could alter people’s behavior. There are primarily four groups that we follow throughout the book: those involved in the creation, implementation, and marketing of the smart watch that delivers the Final Notice; the elderly watch wearers (or test subjects), their associates, and possible victims; law enforcement, especially FBI agent Zoe Brouet; and the pro-gun politicians, organizations, and members. VitalTech’s Dr. Vijay Patel has “developed a sports watch that could measure, analyze, diagnose and even predict complex health issues.” One of the features is Final Notice: a message of impending death that can be delivered to the watch wearer.
VitalTech members, their financial backers, lawyers, and marketing staff try to navigate the legal and ethical ramifications of including Final Notice in the final product. Vince and Trudi are a couple that appear throughout the book. Theirs are two voices that actively explore gun ownership and usage in American culture. The experiences of some of the other test subjects are recounted during the story as well, but Vince and Trudi serve as the fulcrum around most of the issues discussed pivot. The FBI, as well as other law enforcement agencies, has to develop protocols to deal with the new technology. Public shootings, the NRA, gun control, political corruption, immigration, racism, and ageism are woven into the broader discussion. The conclusion does not really answer the question: What would you do if you knew you were going to die? Rather, it seems to conclude that the answer is different for each of us.
It was amazing how smoothly the story flowed despite the large number of characters. I liked the character development enough that I was genuinely sad when some of the characters died. The author did a good job of describing emotional states and personality. There were a few twists as test subjects managed their final tasks. One was a real surprise, and there’s no way to share it with you without spoilers. One escapade was not believable, and yet I suspended my disbelief to enjoy the chaos. I could see the ending coming—it was predictable. It was also satisfactory.
There really wasn’t anything about the story that I disliked. It was well-edited. There were some compound sentences that could have been broken into several sentences for easier reading. There was two author’s asides, inserted in the text, on one page that seemed completely out of place. The two footnotes in a 352-page fiction novel were a bit odd as well. Those author’s tools usually either are used consistently throughout or are not used at all.
The political slant of the book was clear. It does have a definite liberal viewpoint. Some of the characters do spend time trying to consider different viewpoints. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this provided balance, but it did reflect the conflict that many Americans feel as we try to understand complex subjects.
I’m rating this book 4 out of 4 stars. I found it interesting and thoughtful. It isn’t a book for everyone. The story meanders at times, and switches from scene to scene throughout the book. I would recommend it for readers interested in psychological, political, or human-interest stories. If liberal viewpoints make your blood pressure rise, this is not the book for you. It would be a good selection for a book club—if everyone is interested in civil discussion.
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