4 out of 4 stars
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Final Notice by Van Fleisher is a politically-charged thriller set just a few years in the future. This novel combines aspects of the real gun debate currently happening in the United States with a fictional new technology that can accurately predict a person's time of death. What would you do if you found out you had only ten, twenty, or thirty days left to live? Many people would get their affairs in order, say goodbye to loved ones, or check a few things off their bucket lists. Others, as we see in this story, may take a more malevolent route in their final days. With such easy access to firearms and an assured impunity, revenge has never been more tempting.
The novel follows two main storylines. Vince and Trudi, a retired couple, face the decision of whether or not to purchase a gun following an increase in crimes against seniors. The NRA has also released a new discount program for senior citizens, sweetening the deal. The other major storyline focuses on the alpha and beta testing of the cutting-edge VT2, a watch that monitors a user's health and issues their "final notice." The author jumps between these two plots, as well as other side stories, smoothly tying them all together. This keeps the story moving quickly.
The author writes with an obvious bias toward stricter gun control but also presents the other side, usually followed by a counterargument. This debate is presented in a factual, conversational way through the narration and the characters' dialogue. Gun control is not the only poignant topic covered in the novel. Immigration, race relations, prejudice, harassment of the elderly, and the influence of money and lobbyists in politics are also discussed. I enjoyed the satirical bits alluding to politicians and events from the past couple of years and most recent U.S. election such as Todd "Todey" Creud, Brightfahrt News, and "alternate facts."
Along with the provocative political commentary, the plot is also creative. The characters are well developed and use dialogue that is realistic, engaging, and often humorous with silly puns. I like how Vince and Trudi's relationship is filled with care, honesty, equality, and lighthearted banter. The author doesn't portray the characters with bad stereotypes and actually took every opportunity to dispel any prejudice about a group of people.
What I enjoyed most about this book is that it highlights crucial problems we are facing as a society. Through such compelling storytelling, I found myself getting angry at the injustices in the story, just like in real life. Moral and psychological elements also unfold throughout the book. If given a gun, would you be able to pull the trigger and harm another person?
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars because I found it to be thought-provoking and executed well. I did not find any errors. I personally agree with the author's stance on gun control and feel that those with strong opposing views may not enjoy this book. I would recommend this novel to adults who are interested in the gun control debate told from a liberal perspective and to those who enjoy a good thriller. I think it would be appropriate for mature, older teens capable of understanding the serious nature of these issues. Even if unfamiliar with U.S. politics, I think this story is still intriguing enough to be quite enjoyable.
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