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The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks

Narrated by: Scott R. Smith
Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Who is David S. Sparks?
Where is David S. Sparks?
When is David S. Sparks?

In the aftermath of the Chemical Wars, nature has reclaimed humanity's infrastructure. This world, lush with life - yet dangerously uninhabitable for mankind - houses the remaining population that ekes out an existence in quarantined cities anchored off the mainland.

David S. Sparks awakens into the chaos of this future world, unsure of his place in a reality wildly different from his fragmented memories. As the desire to retake the planet swells, so too does the question of how. Will the same mistakes be repeated? Can technology beat nature, or is it time for another approach? And what is David Sparks' role in it all?

Dive into a wild, mind-bending journey as one man chases the ultimate question of self, discovering the truly illusive nature of reality.

©2018 William F. Aicher (P)2018 William F. Aicher

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Kept me guessing!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review consideration.

The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks (heck of a title) kept me guessing. These days, that's about the highest compliment I can give. Right away I was wondering exactly what had happened to this dude. There were a few times when I thought I knew what direction things were going in, only to find out I was so very wrong. Normally, by the fifty percent mark in a book at the latest, I know basically how a book is going to turn out, and what rating I'm going to give it. Not so much in this case.

The author doesn't waste a lot of time on description, but he gives it to the reader when it's necessary. I appreciate that. It makes the scenes where he does go into detail even more impactful. There are a few scenes that stand out in my mind. Like the field growing body parts. Or a certain scene right after an unintentional swim. That one had my gorge rising.

As for the characters themselves: David and Rosa are okay. I liked Ghost more than both of them, probably. However, none of them really make much of an impression except for Calvin. Calvin is not a likable fellow. Calvin needs punched pretty much every time he opens his mouth.

The pacing is good. The exploration of a future where we've screwed things up so badly and not been able to really escape from it is interesting. David's journey and his decisions are enough to make a person think.

The only real pick I have with The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks is that the writing needs tightened up a bit. Though I understood the necessity, I rolled my eyes a bit at the super-convenient way the 'need to know' backstory was related. Having a character with memory-related issues being told the way things are is a classic device, but it's not a great one. I'd rather just read something setting the scene ahead of time than be forced through an awkward recitation later. There's some repetitiveness in the writing that could use some work as well. It's not super-present, but enough so that I remember thinking it a handful of times when reading/listening.

The narrator, Scott R. Smith, did a good job. His character voices were all very distinct. This distinctiveness might be part of the reason I ranted a little bit about Calvin earlier. Every time Calvin spoke, I tensed up. The man's voice was so arrogant, unpleasantly accented, and... and... Yeah. I maintain that Calvin just needs punched. 

Overall, The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks has a few issues, but the author is talented enough that I had to finish the book. I was so curious about what he was doing, and where things were going to end up. If you like futuristic mystery, this one is definitely worth your time. 

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Philosophical Sci-Fi that reminded me of Lost!

I highly recommend this book if:
-You're into science fiction, philosophy, and pondering some big-picture questions about the future of humanity, identity, consciousness, etc.
-You like putting complex pieces together to figure out what's really going on in the universe.

I don't recommend this book if:
-You want a particularly character-driven story where the fate of the characters is what draws you into the story.
-You are particularly averse to the occasional infodump to catch the reader and protagonist up to speed.

For me, I didn't particularly care for David Sparks the person, or about what would happen to him in the end. But I did really care about figuring out the puzzle of this world, who David Sparks is, and what the grand plan is for the "Cause." I also thought, in contrast to another review I read, that the climax/reveal at the end worked well. Suddenly, a lot of things about the plot made sense. If I were to read the book a second time, it would be interesting to make connections I missed the first time through.

David Sparks ends up being very passive, which I think made it harder to really invest in him emotionally. A lot of stuff happens to him, but I felt like I never got to see him grow as a person or change.

All that being said, I did really enjoy the book. I wish more people would read it so I can read theories about the world and make more connections that I likely missed. I'm also interested to read more of Aicher's work, especially in the other genres in which he writes.

Also, it reminded me a little of the TV show Lost, with less-developed characters, but a better payoff at the end.


*****
For the audible book, specifically:
-The narrator was decent, but it took a long time to get used to. His voice is good, but he ends every sentence sounding sort of like a news anchor. It really bothered me for a while. Also, because of the nature of the story, I think I would have enjoyed reading the physical copy better so I could flip back and forth to try to piece things together as I went. If you only listen to audiobooks, I still recommend it! But if you do both, I'd suggest a physical copy or reading it on Kindle.