4 out of 4 stars
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“If you knew, for sure, that you were going to die in 10, 20 or 30 days, what would you do?” This is the unsettling question posed by Van Fleisher, author of the political (and mildly sci-fi) thriller Final Notice
Under the lead of Vijay Patel, a brilliant doctor with a passion for technology, the company VitalTech develops a smartwatch that can predict the exact day you are going to die. There is just a tiny glitch: as smart as that watch can be, it cannot predict the possible effects of such a peremptory deadline on the human psyche.
The main story follows the testing stages of the VT2, that’s the name of the avant-garde device, carried out on a sample of a hundred of seniors. The VT2’s technology monitors and analyzes in real time every change in the body of its wearer to such an infinitesimally small point that it can tell how many days they have left to live, issuing a “final notice” that warns them to contact their doctor immediately. Needless to say, not everyone does it. The book shows us some of the final notice recipients as they struggle with the harsh reality that their time on earth is ticking. Some get their affairs in order, some say their goodbyes to the loved ones. Some take the occasion to settle old scores. They premeditate murders, or simply flip, kill people, aware they will never pay for their crime.
It surely doesn’t help that the NRA decides to run a massive discount promotion on guns to, go figure, exactly the senior citizens. Oh jeez! What could possibly go wrong here?
What I believe makes this book even more engaging is the parallel story, in which we follow Vince and his wife Trudi, a couple of elders who struggle with the appalling - and appealing - thought of getting a gun, after the NRA announces the tempting promotion. Initially against the idea, we see the couple slowly starting to consider it as an option. Then an incident throws in their face all the frailty of their age, tipping the scale in favour of the purchase. If they will go as far as to use it, though, is something I will not spoil in this review.
That said, whether you like political stories or not, this is definitely one of those books you never really stop thinking about. It is thought-provoking and occasionally intense. For being a work of fiction, it offers a scenario painted with scary shades of reality, fitting way too perfectly into today's insane political climate. Yet, it does not end up being heavy or disheartening, because the author manages to interlace and to switch between moments of tension, fun, irony and even romance. Moreover, skipping from character to character keeps the story moving and the suspense up.
On a very fangirlish note, I have to point out a humorous trivia. Being a TV junkie with an obsession for legal shows, I couldn’t help but jump in delight at the mention of Pearson, Spector & Litt. Now, you're probably wondering: Who the hell are these guys? They are the name partners at a law firm of a quite popular show (hint: they dress in suits!). If it was a coincidence, thank you anyway, Mr. Fleisher, for the pleasant distraction. If it was intentional, congratulations for buying my attention until the end of my days. Here’s to hoping I will not get my final notice anytime soon.
The book was well written, I did not spot any significant mistake, but there were quite a few missing inverted commas which, anyway, did not affect the reading. And that’s why I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
I recommend it to anyone who loves political thrillers and, why not, sci-fi readers, as well. But it is also a book that anyone who thinks arming the whole population with guns is a good idea should read. A particular mention goes to younger readers: better with adult supervision.
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