The Last Days of Jack Sparks – Jason Arnopp

About the Book

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

336 pages (paperback)
Published on March 8, 2016
Published by Orbit
Author’s Webpage
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks kind of snuck up on me. I got a new kindle a while ago, and in the process of moving all my books from my old device to my new one, all my books got scattered and unorganized and I completely forgot what I had on there. (This is also why it’s taking me a little longer than normal to read some of the books I’ve received.) Anyway, I’ve been slowly trying to put things in order, and I ran across this book. I decided to open it and see what it was all about. I finished it in about three days.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a really unique contemporary sort-of-fantasy thriller which features our controversial journalist protagonist (kind of) named Jack Sparks. The book is notes from the book he was writing before he kicked it. The book was released for his fans by his brother, as is, complete with notes for his agents and editor as he was writing it.

Jack Sparks is an interesting character. At first blush he seems similar to some culture journalists I’m sure we can all pinpoint in our own day and age. He’s a man with a unique, strong voice and a fearless desire to investigate aspects of life that most of us don’t think about. He has a huge fan base, and he obviously really likes himself (dude has a huge ego), but he’s also gotten himself in a bit of trouble. He’s a notorious drug addict, and has a tendency to close himself off to possibilities. All in all, Jack Sparks is quite repugnant and I instantly couldn’t stand him.

Which is part of why I liked him. (Weird, right?) It’s rare that an author can get me to dislike a character as intensely as I disliked this one. And part of what made him so easy to dislike wasn’t just his strong (really strong) personality, but also how real he was to me. He wasn’t just a character in a book, he was vibrant and real, and I could actually picture him trotting around the globe offending everyone he came in contact with.

The book opens up with Jack Sparks at an exorcism of a young girl in Italy. Things don’t go as planned, and while Sparks thinks it’s all an elaborate ruse, it’s really where it all begins for him. He gets quite fixated, and the YouTube video that gets infamous on the internet and really steamrolls over the book he was planning to write appears. It’s really early on in the book where readers can see the book Sparks wanted to write turn from that, into the YouTube video obsessed book that he ended up writing.

It’s also where a lot of this weird sort-of-fantasy-thriller stuff comes into play. In fact, I’d say this is less fantasy and more horror, now that I’m thinking about it. In its bare bones, a lot of this is a ghost story. Jack is being hunted and haunted by spirits and forces he doesn’t understand. There are dark passageways and spooky moments that had my skin crawling. He is determined to show that the paranormal is all a ruse, and the paranormal seems determined to show him that it’s not. It’s an interesting ideological war that he finds himself in the middle of, and he narrates it all beautifully.

As the chapters pass, readers can easily see a bit of Jack’s mind fraying. He’s really put together at the start, but the pages pass and he gets messier. Things start falling apart. There are fewer notes to his editor and what he writes transforms from a book, into a sort of rambling narrative that is woven together with his personal terror that he feels so acutely readers can’t help but feel it.

What’s interesting here is less the fact that Jack is falling apart, and all these terrifying things are happening all around him, and more the little tidbits between each chapter. These portions at the end of each chapter that are put in there by his brother and his editor showing an alternate perspective to what happened. And it’s quite eye opening. Jack seems so put together, so blatantly, offensively honest. These portions at the end of each chapter paint another picture of him, and shed a questioning light on many of his claims, from the claims that he’s drug free, to the claims that he is sane. These portions of the book make you really question Jack, and if he is who he seems to think he is. Or even if the things he thinks are happening, are really happening.

It’s quite brilliant. Arnopp seemed to take the idea that nothing is what it seems to be, and wrote an entire book based on that premise, in a pop-culture way that most everyone would enjoy or relate to. It’s a sort of cross-genre read that is part horror, part cerebral, and a whole lot of thriller. There’s a little of everything here, and the book is just as interesting as it is to watch someone fall apart …. Or is he falling apart? The ending left a little to be desired, as I think the last part of the book sort of lost itself a little. There were some curveballs that took me out of the book a little bit.

Despite that, The Last Days of Jack Sparks was the sort of unique book that I’ve been waiting a while to read. This modern ghost story was riveting in just about every possible way. Jason Arnopp’s debut novel was a homerun for me, and well worth checking out if you’re into ghost stories that are sort of thrillers, sort of cerebral, sort of a contemporary examination of belief and the power of pop culture.

4/5 stars

One Responses

  • Stephanie

    Can’t wait til this book comes out in the US!

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