HomeReviewReview: The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

the-last-days-of-jack-sparksThis title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

“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.”

This review contains spoilers.

This book started out really promising: there were plenty of creepy scenes and unexplained occurrences that kept me reading even as they started to weird me out.  (I don’t read much horror, because my imagination is way too vivid.)  The author does a good job in the first half of the book at sustaining a sense of mounting dread.  The events of the exorcism, the mysterious YouTube video, and a couple of unexplained paranormal sightings all work together to keep the tension high, even though you know going into this book that it will end with Sparks’s death.

Unfortunately, the second half of the book, for me, went completely off the rails.  Abandoning the purely ghost-oriented focus of the earlier chapters, the author takes Sparks to a society attempting to replicate an experiment in producing a man-made phantom–essentially, they were trying to use the strength of their will to create a ghost.  And they succeed in creating a being that ultimately turns out to be a manifestation of Sparks’s ego.  And believe me, he has a big ego.  This thing kills the other group members and possesses Sparks.  So, apparently, you can corrupt yourself?

It gets even worse when the demonic presence that has been shadowing Sparks since the exorcism in Italy begins bouncing him through time and space.  (And now we have time travel?)  You find out that Sparks’s entire life path was influenced by seeing a vision of his future self while he was a child.  In essence, Sparks was doomed from the age of five.  In my opinion, if you’re going to have Heaven and Hell, and God and the Devil, you can’t just erase free will.  Sparks never had the chance to choose not to be who he became, and thus he was damned.

Even so, I appreciated the way the later events in the novel circled around and explained events earlier on.  All your questions of “Who did this?  How did this happen?” will get answered, and so in that way, the book is satisfying.  Personally, though, I wish the author had stuck with the style and tone of the early chapters.  I felt that the manic roller coaster of the second destroyed the mood.

Not a bad book, but certainly not a good one, The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a flawed ghost story with some creepy underpinnings that could have been much better.

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