Final Chance (Final Trilogy #3), by Van Fleisher

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Van Fleisher for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After delivering two impactful novels in a series that mixes politics with forthcoming technological advancements, Van Fleisher presents perhaps the last story in his Final trilogy. Sticking with what works, Fleisher creates a story that will have readers thinking and highly entertained in equal measure. Near future social, political, and technological issues converge into a well-paced narrative that provides a glimpse into what might be and how some will stop at nothing to stymie progress. A great apparent conclusion to the series for Fleisher.

After the impact of both COVID-19 and political unrest in America, it is time to turn over a new page. However, subsequent US Administrations cannot find peace and solace with what awaits them on the horizon, but rather new and difficult problems. One of these is the ongoing issue of climate change, which has shown to be causing issues around the world: rising temperatures, destruction of natural resources, and large-scale deaths of humans, not to mention flora or fauna.

Seeking to curb these issues, a system of domed cities becomes a priority within the White House, using America as a testing ground for other parts of the world. Investing billions into the project, new agricultural domes emerge to serve as testing grounds for enclosed areas where temperatures can be controlled and people can live. This expands to cities, some of which are inter-connected to allow travel with ease.

By the late 2040s and into the 50s, there are other advancements taking place, in hopes of creating a new and sustainable world for all. As with any new advancements, there will be those who profit, as well as a handful whose source of gain is curtailed by change. A small cabal of powerful individuals who seek to eradicate the changes meets regularly, in hopes of hatching a plan to cut the progress off at the knees.

Using various methods, this group covertly seeks to erase progress by the current US Administration. Assassination attempts prove fruitful, as does the release of a new bio-weapon, all while technological progress continues into the 2060s. A few key figures seek to ensure that these few will not succeed, while trying to reveal their identities in short order. It will take a great deal of effort, but it might be the final chance to ensure the world is safe.

The Final series caught my eye a few years ago and I have kept up with them whenever Van Fleisher publishes a new novel. While the ideas may seem a tad tech-lite, when the reader gets into the novels, there is a substantial narrative and strong themes. Fleisher offers opinions throughout, but they are substantiated effectively and this turned into quite the political thriller, while also being entertaining for those who invest the needed time.

The central characters change throughout the piece, but Fleisher makes sure to provide strong ties between them. Political, scientific, and social actors intermingle effectively to support the story and provide something that is easily processed by the reader. Characters and themes may bear a striking similarity to current times, which is likely no mistake on Fleisher’s part.

While there is a slight hokiness to begin the novel, this is soon replaced by some strong themes throughout the narrative. The story takes on some wonderful perspectives and the reader is taking on quite a ride as they learn about what could literally be on the horizon in the next while. With strong plots emerging, Fleisher permits the reader some time to think about what they are reading, while also getting lost in the ongoing action and developments. Short chapters keep the piece moving and the reader can only wonder what awaits them, as they forge ahead with ease. Even though it’s all in the future, Fleisher remains grounded and does not ‘robotocise’ the story, or instil anything too outlandish as it relates to daily life. If this is to be the final novel in the series, it will be missed, but what a great way to tie things off. Van Fleisher is to be commended.

Kudos, Mr. Fleisher, on a great novel and entertaining series. I could not ask for anything better. I wonder what you have in store for us next.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Final Act (Final Notice #2), by Van Fleisher

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Van Fleisher for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After devouring the first book by Van Fleisher, which lays the groundwork for this novel, I knew that I needed to read more, if only to learn how things with the VT2 watch developed and what Dr. Vijay Patel had in store for the world. While the watch has been working effectively to offer its users a ‘final notice’ before their deaths, Patel and others have also come to see a rise in gun violence among those with nothing to lose—the premise of the series debut. After selling the company, Patel chooses to take a leadership role within the wing of the company that is working on these notices and some other software. Teamed up with a Special Agent within the FBI, Patel is trying to work out an added layer to the notice option, tracking levels of aggression and blood chemistry that might help trigger knowledge that could alert to the potential of a violent outburst during this final notice period. When Patel is forced from his job by a vindictive company CEO, he tries to keep the new level of tracking going, only to have all his pathways shut down. Knowing that this is a vital portal, Patel will bend the rules, if only to help stop the continuous spree of killing. However, someone is trying to play their own version of Big Brother, tapping into the Final Notice data to exact revenge on high-ranking officials and yet keeping the blood off their own hands. As high-profile murders begin to take place during an election year, Patel and his FBI counterpart must work from the outside to gain new and covert access to the VT2 data, saving lives and yet tracking those who are most likely to become violent. All of this has major implications, especially with the true puppet master still lurking in the shadows. A decent follow-up piece that seeks to delve a little deeper into the story and keep the reader questioning every plot twist. Van Fleisher does well here, but the story lacked the punch I would have hoped, coming off a successful debut novel.

While I know some panned Fleisher’s opening piece as being too silly or even a novel that seeks to ride on the coattails of current events, I quite enjoyed the banter between characters and how he developed his plot. There was a great deal of potential with this piece, as it sought to look a little deeper into the Final Notice aspect of the VT2 watch and look at those who use this as a means to tie up their personal loose ends and exact some revenge, knowing they will not face the consequences. However, the story got wonky part way in and never really was able to right itself effectively. The thriller aspect of Patel trying to work from the outside propelled the piece forward, but there were countless instances where interactions between characters seemed inserted to fill space rather than develop the story effectively. The premise of the book had much potential, though I think it got bogged down throughout the meandering narrative and over abundance of plot points. The mix of chapter lengths helped balance out some of the less than strong storytelling, as I could push through shorter portions and set the book down until I had a mental reset. Fleisher can tell a story, there is no doubt, and his choice to inject some social commentary throughout is never a bad thing. I do wonder, however, if a reworking to sharpen and strengthen this piece could help create a better duology on the topic. I think Fleisher might want to hire a new editorial team to help him define a stronger story that will sell and perhaps look back to his debut novel, finding its strengths and building on them, rather than trying to toss so much into the book and hope to please everyone with a little something here and there!

Kudos, Mr. Fleisher, for a decent second novel. There are a mix of good and bad things for me, but I hope those who read both novels get the larger themes and points you see to address.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Final Notice, by Van Fleisher

Eight stars

Having recently been introduced to the work of Van Fleisher, I thought that I would give this piece a go, which delves into the world of guns, politics, and the predictive nature of smart watches. After the NRA decides to create a system whereby seniors can get easier (and cheaper) access to guns, there is a moderate spike in gun violence across the country. Interestingly enough, a few of the headline grabbing stories involve seniors committing acts of gun violence before turning the bullets on themselves, or dying naturally days later. Vince and Trudi Fuller follow all this on the news and wonder if they, active seniors, ought to be jumping on the bandwagon. While they do extensive research on gun ownership in California, both want to make sure their choice is best for them and not simply part of a new trend. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Dr. Vijay Patel is working on his newest invention, the VT2 smart watch, a device that can also detect the most minute things in the wearer’s blood. The algorithms are so precise that it can predict ‘Final Notice’—how long the wearer has to live—within 10 days. While Patel his trying to get his VT2 in beta trials by a large cross-section of the older population, he worries when some of these recent shootings can be tied to people who received their notice. Wondering if the VT2 might be helping to push people to commit rash acts, Patel tries to hone the technology without stifling what is sure to be a great medical tool. As the story progresses, the Fullers and others begin to live their lives under the cloud of this new gun availability and the emergence of VT2, both of which play a key role in the larger story. How it will end is anyone’s guess, but the reader is in for quite a ride. An intriguing and thought provoking piece by Van Fleisher, that will keep the debate on gun control and medical technology raging. Recommended to those who love a good ‘thinking thriller’, as well as the reader who enjoys a piece with underlying political implications throughout.

I was asked to review the yet-to-be-released sequel to this piece, but wanted to begin at the start. Fleisher surely makes this a wonderful introduction to the topic with this piece that never stops evolving. There is so much on offer here that it is sometimes hard to see where one topic ends and the next begins. That being said, Vince Fuller appears to play a key role throughout and the reader is able to see much of his character development in this piece. A man who is quite set in his ways, Fuller has a events that force a re-evaluation of life choices. Alongside his wife, Fuller debates gun control and the politics of aging, both of which emerge throughout the piece. While Fuller has a horrible encounter that leaves him scarred in more ways than one, the reader can see how he chooses to handle it all, including the news of a potential medical red flag. Others appear throughout the story and offer their own influence to the larger narrative. Some engage regularly with the Fullers, while other characters have their own vignettes that push the story in different directions. I quite enjoyed the overall piece, which kept me thinking until the final page turn. There were moments when I was all but waving my hand in the air to get some added narrative momentum, but the overarching pace of the book was quite good. Politics weaves its way into this book, but does not seem to inculcate the reader too often. There is definitely the political left and right divide, which Fleisher mocks throughout, but it reads like your typical 21st century piece with themes pushed in both directions. I am eager to see how this sequel plays into this story and the overall intended message that Van Fleisher has to offer.

Kudos, Mr. Fleisher, for an entertaining debut. I can only hope that others will find this piece as exciting as I did.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: