Jason Arnopp’s The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a book you can judge by its minty delicious cover. The title is what you get – an account of the last days of Jack Sparks. The telling comes to you straight from the source: Jack Sparks.
I read this in 2 sittings because sometimes it’s nice to spend a fat chunk of time reading a great book by a swell writer. Also the pacing and spinning plot distracted me from a fever that wouldn’t go away, along with a dad who kept calling to ask if I’d “cooked it out yet” and sisters who kept calling to remind me not to take dad’s medical advice*. Fast is a good way to read this one. Then I handed it to my boyfriend for his commute and he took his sweet time. We both loved it, but he missed connecting some of the dots that make this book so clever and fun. I recommend full surrender. Keep reading. Dirty dishes can wait.
Fresh out of rehab and riding the success of his first three pop books “Jack Sparks on a Pogo Stick” “Jack Sparks on Gangs” and “Jack Sparks on Drugs”, social media addict Jack Sparks begins what will surely be his next big hit. In “Jack Sparks on the Supernatural”, Jack Sparks will completely debunk all things supernatural beginning with a demon, naturally. And in case you haven’t guessed, Jack Sparks likes being Jack Sparks.
It’s hard to say where the story begins. Work on the supernatural book starts in a remote church in Italy during the exorcism of a young girl. For some reason the priest allowed Jack Sparks to observe quietly from a pew in the back. Jack Sparks being Jack Sparks, he doesn’t stay quiet. He laughs, mocking the demon’s big scary moment. Things get messy.
As with Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts, I almost missed out on this book after hearing it was sort of about a possession, assuming it was another Holy back bends, What’s coming out of her mouth? kind of story. It’s not like that. Jack is firm in his stated premise that when it comes to the supernatural people are either deceiving or being deceived. Sure there’s a third possibility, but no way. No way is there more to our existence than lying or being lied to, and racking up as many followers as possible while doing it.
The third possibility is an uncomfortable door to open. For Jack, it’s not an option. Can you question faith if you never had it or pretended not to have it? And how can you think about these things when there’s Twitter to update and Instagram and how many new followers did he just get? Ooh shiny things with buttons and the certainty that the whole world is hanging on his every word because he has so many followers.
This is the first novel I’ve read that incorporates social media in a way that’s not annoying. It’s a huge part of Jack’s existence, his success and his end. Jack’s obsession with his online presence underscores his already apparent narcissism but it also moves the plot forward. Arnopp never tries to convince us that Jack is best friend material. He’s an arrogant self absorbed ass feeding on the empty glow of likes and follows. He’s completely aware that he’s a product of his time. That self awareness eventually makes his self destruction compelling, adding heft to a book that doesn’t need it, but maybe some of its readers do.
Jack is doomed and doesn’t know it. We know the end yet still we’re racing to catch up, to puzzle out the mysteries because it’s human nature. As it’s human nature to bury our most terrifying experience so deep that it becomes a powerful part of we are.
I haven’t read many horror novels that are actually scary. I like the ones that take the mind to dark places and leave you there to work your own way out. I love when the creeps are unexpected and fleeting. Jack Sparks is entertaining throughout with several chilling moments and a bang end that is the very opposite of a twist. No closure unless you think about it and the more you think about it the more disturbing it gets. Fun, fascinatingly disturbing, not dark and heavy I-feel-icky-about-about-the-world-and-just-need-to-lie-down-for-a-week disturbing. (Looking at you, Song of Kali.)
This is a fun, thrilling read. People who love horror will eat it up. People who enjoy thrillers, mysteries and milkshakes will love it, too.
*Don’t try to cook out a fever. Cooking out a fever can cause brain damage.