4 out of 4 stars
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Gun ownership, senior citizens, immigrants, and fitness devices may seem like a rather disparate set of issues, but they are seamlessly melded in Van Fleisher’s novel, Final Notice. This fictional account of events in the lives--and deaths--of several senior citizens and the choices they made when faced with death was compelling and thought-provoking.
Final Notice cleverly explores the choices individuals would make if they knew they were about to die. The plot revolves mostly around a senior citizen couple, Vince and Trudi Fuller, trying to decide whether or not to purchase a gun for personal protection in these volatile and often frightening times when senior citizens are often senselessly victimized. The reader is also introduced to a brilliant young doctor, Vijay Patel, who has invented a health monitoring device called the VT2 that is so advanced it can predict when the individual wearing it is going to die, up to 30 days in advance. Moral dilemmas are explored when a number of senior citizens who own the VT2 become embroiled in gun violence once they receive their Final Notices.
Fleisher adeptly weaves the threads of multiple subplots to create an overall story line that flows cohesively. Despite the fact that most of the characters receive Final Notices, the inevitable conclusions are written in ways that do not make the reader feel excessively grief-stricken or put-off by death, although there are moments that the reader may question, “Why?” as many may do when faced with seemingly inexplicable violence. And it is appropriate that the author does not always allow the reader to know the answer to each “Why?” since in real life we do not always get the satisfaction of knowing the reasons why some commit heinous acts upon innocent people.
Each subplot adds to the message the author is conveying--the morality of the proliferation of gun ownership and the involvement of the NRA in that proliferation. The author’s stance is quite clear on the topic from the beginning, as he explains in the Forward of the novel. However, he makes sure to include a few positive outcomes within some of the subplots to make the anti-gun tone less overpowering.
Another element that must be addressed is the focus on the VT2 device that plays such a prominent role in the novel. Fleisher realistically depicts the process of rolling out a new technological device through the eyes of the the one who created it and his support system, with the ins and outs of deciding how many to produce, monitoring early trials, and dealing with publicity. In many novels, such innovators are depicted as greedy and short-sighted, but Fleisher’s Vijay and his team are believable and likable. Readers find themselves rooting for Vijay’s success.
Final Notice is a novel that will appeal to anyone who appreciates a good story line with a message to make one think--or rethink--their positions on controversial issues. The lack of major errors (only a few apostrophe usage errors were found) along with the intricate connections between the various subplots and the main story line demonstrate the author’s artistry as a storyteller. I give Final Notice a rating of 4 out of 4 stars for this excellent novel, and I highly recommend it to anyone who may share my appreciation for books that make one think.
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