12 July 2017

Books: The Last Days of Jack Sparks By Jason Arnopp (2016)

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a darkly witty novel that that can be scary, gross, funny and frustrating all the same time. It’s an book to categorize for it has many elements of horror, science fiction, dark humor, and a poke at social media celebrities. 

“In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances. To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone. It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy. Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account. Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.”

The conceit of the book is that Jack writes his book as it goes along, but it’s clear that author Jason Arnopp has created an unreliable narrator here, as the reader is sort drawn into Jack’s world and you are never really sure if any of this is happening (and by the end of the book, for me anyways, this becomes somewhat clear). Also, Jack is a very unlikable character and fairly dense. But like modern young adults, his life’s meaning revolves around his own legend. It’s a world where he’s more obsessed with scoring as many hits as he can on his multiple social media channels. You’ll either find him funny, one who continues to cling to his atheism even when presented with some very obvious supernatural occurrences, or a brilliant journalist who has discovered many people across the globe are colluding together to say the Devil does exist. 

A lot of other stuff happens, with Jack not believing any of it and ends up in California, where he ends up engaging with a group of people who believe they can create and then communicate with a fictionalized ghost through expectations of human will (which the writer based on something called The Philip Experiment that took place in Ontario, Canada in 1972).

It’s very 1970/80s Doctor Who (which the writer does have an association with) set against modern times. The book falters at the end, and I felt cheated a bit, but a strong debut none the less.

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