Review: The Last Day of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit on March 8th 2016
Prepare for the cleverest, most addictive thriller you will read this year. This is the story of the ill-fated Jack Sparks - a man who plays with fire, and pays the price . . .
Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
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.
Read on and decide for yourself what really happened to the notorious Jack Sparks - in this razor-sharp tale about the dangers of mocking what you don't believe . . .
The Last Day of Jack Sparks is the story of a successful pop culture journalist, who made his fame writing books that focus on his experience as he explores a given topic. Books like Jack Sparks on Drugs, where he throws himself into the world of drugs and experiments to his heart’s delight, all in the name of research for his book. Not surprisingly, his books can be controversial, they are type of thing people will read to find out why everyone else is talking about them. For his latest book idea, he decides to delve into the world of the supernatural. There is definitely some humor in places as Jack Sparks clearly does not believe in the supernatural, but for the benefit of his book, he has to give things a try.
The interesting thing about this book, is you know going in that Jack Sparks is dead (it’s right there in the title!), and he died in some mysterious way while writing this book on the supernatural. It definitely casts a little darker edge to things as Jack is very honest in that he finds the idea of there being truth in the supernatural as being rather ridiculous. As opposed to an unbiased journalist, he goes into this investigation/research with a very condescending view towards the topic and can be just outright disrespectful. It really makes you wonder why he chose to write this book.
The story is told predominantly through Jack’s own (incomplete) book, with a few other relevant communications and interviews thrown in. This style worked extremely well. It let us get into the mind of Jack Sparks via his book, it gave us a bit of an outside view as well in the interviews and journal entries from other characters. And it also gave us a perspective outside of Jack, who you feel wrote in his own voice, but may not be the most reliable narrator at times as you have to keep in mind this isn’t a straight journal, but a story he intends to publish. How much of what he puts in here is solid truth versus exaggeration for dramatic versus possible delusions or maybe just plain fabrication you can’t always know for sure.
The story really takes off when Jack finds someone has uploaded a mysterious and somewhat creepy video to his YouTube channel. Everything from this point seems to change for Jack and he seems to go into a tailspin. He becomes obsessed with tracking the origin down and this shapes his decisions, decisions that seem lead him deeper into trouble. Reading everything that happened, and hear it from his perspective as it occurs leads the reader through a journey that is humorous, creepy as hell, and unexpected.
Overall, The Last Days of Jack Sparks was a book I had a very hard time putting down, it grabbed me relentlessly and made me reprioritize sleep. I have to confess I love when a book does this, even if I feel it the next day (or rather, later in the day after I take a brief excuse of a nap in place of a real night’s sleep). I left this book feeling like maybe I should have seen some things coming, but I just didn’t. The conclusion is shocking, heartbreaking and absolutely fabulous. I really just loved this one.
This review originally ran on The Speculative Herald.