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The Testimony [Hardcover]

James Smythe
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
RRP: £17.70
Price: £11.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

26 April 2012

A global thriller presenting an apocalyptic vision of a world on the brink of despair and destruction.

What would you do if the world was brought to a standstill? If you heard deafening static followed by the words, ‘My children. Do not be afraid’?

Would you turn to God? Subscribe to the conspiracy theories? Or put your faith in science and a rational explanation?

The lives of all twenty-six people in this account are affected by the message. Most because they heard it. Some because they didn’t.

The Testimony – a gripping story of the world brought to its knees and of its people, confused and afraid.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007427905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007427901
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Smythe is the author of the Wales Book Of The Year Fiction Award winner THE TESTIMONY (2012); THE EXPLORER (2013); and THE MACHINE (2013).

In January 2014, HarperCollins will publish the first sequel to THE EXPLORER, THE ECHO.

He currently writes a continuing series of articles for The Guardian called Rereading Stephen King and teaches Creative Writing in London. He can be found on twitter @jpsmythe and Facebook.

Product Description


‘[An] utterly gripping and highly original debut novel…a tour de force of virtuoso writing that explodes off the page’ DAILY MAIL

‘As if Philip K Dick and David Mitchell had collaborated on an episode of The West Wing … unsettling, gripping and hugely thought-provoking’ FHM

‘A fiercely-imagined dystopia of the near future. Intelligent, visionary and compulsively readable’ ALEX PRESTON, author of The Revelations

‘A literary post-apocalyptic novel built around a clever conceit’ GUARDIAN

About the Author

James Smythe was born in London in 1980. Since completing a PhD at Cardiff University he has worked as a computer game writer/narrative designer and currently teaches creative writing. He lives on the grounds of a boarding school in West Sussex .He can be found on Twitter @jpsmythe

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Apocalyptic Story 21 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Testimony is a dystopian story which starts when everyone or nearly everyone hears a noise which sounds very like the static that a TV or radio would emit. It seems that the noise is heard inside the head rather than externally and there are various theories as to where it is coming from and what is causing it, but nothing is conclusive.

The story is told from the point of view of various people in different parts of the world. Each section is dedicated to a different person and their observations which range from one line to several pages. Some of these people keep appearing so that we understand their thoughts and what is happening to them and their families and friends as the story develops. Others appear only once or twice. Of particular note is Andrew Brubacker, the advisor to POTUS (President of the United States), as the Government in America struggles to make sense of the phenomena. Rather predictably, terrorism is high on the list of suspects.

This is a reasonably original take on an apocalyptic type scenario and the presentation works rather well, once the story starts to develop. Of particular interest is the way that when faced with circumstances that cannot be explained most people react in a superstitious way and consider that if something cannot be rationalised then there must be a religious dimension at the root of it. I will not give any spoilers by revealing how the downward spiral develops, but suffice to say that I did not find it very predictable and it was not one of those stories where the reader is constantly jumping ahead of the author.

To summarise, I found this an interesting story though not one which was particularly tense at any stage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Second Coming Catastrophe Novel 4 Mar 2012
By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Set some time in the not too distant future, this book tells us about what transpired after `The Broadcast'. This is on a day when every body hears the same words in English `My Children' as if they were hearing it in their heads. Then everyone goes seemingly religious mental as it is more or less universally accepted as being the voice of God. Some people just up and kill themselves to be with `Him' and others decided to let the whole world go to hell in a hand cart because if he is real then everything has changed.

It is told by monologues from people all over the world; we have a political speech writer in Tel Aviv, a sales consultant and an MP in London and the aid to the US President among many others. They are all speaking as if being interviewed about the past events. The narrative is taken forward by differing characters as they tell more of their story. So we have the individual plights of the characters personalising the global catastrophe to bring detail to the events unfolding. The number of characters may be off putting for some but it adds depth to the book and tries to bring as many perspectives and reactions as possible to what is really a question of faith. There is also the question about, if it is God, which religion was right? As the World waits for the answer God has a few more things to reveal. Then the terrorists kick off and things get real nasty real quick.

I did enjoy this book and got through it fairly rapidly. It is written in an engaging and fluid style. More character development would have been nice, but the format does not leave very much wriggle room for that, so I was fine with that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fragility of culture 4 Sep 2013
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I recently read Smythe's The Machine and thought it was so brilliant that I immediately wanted to read everything else he's ever written. This has the same intriguing intelligence about it, and a wonderful originality combined with fluent writing but doesn't have the technical mastery or emotional grip of the latest book.

Set in a world a few years in our future (9/11 was 20 years ago), this has a gripping set-up: one day, out of the blue, a burst of static is heard around the world and then a voice speaks. Is it god, and, if so, whose? Aliens? Technology?

The book is written as a series of short revolving testimonies from a range of characters from out of work Russians, to an MP, to the Chief of Staff at the White House. Not all of them are interesting, and the voices are mostly the same: everyone speaks with an educated, English cadence - even the Americans.

This isn't a book to read if you like to have all your ends tied up, as the narrative doesn't offer any answers to what happened. What is does do with frightening intensity is show how fragile our conceptions of culture and civilisation are, and how quickly our world can spiral out of control.

The constantly shifting narrators means that I never felt emotionally attached to any of the characters, and this has none of the atmosphere of The Machine which makes that book so compelling.

So this is intelligent, probing and original - but the good news is that Smythe's got even better since. If you haven't read The Machine I strongly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Good page turner, but ultimately to no avail!
There is not doubt that this book is a good read. Like many other books, the story unfolds through the eyes of many different people around the globe. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Nathan Barnett
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull
I was hopeful after reading The Machine that I'd enjoy the author's other books. I read a The Explorer next and liked much of it even through the glaring flaws in the author's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ms. J. Kelly
2.0 out of 5 stars a bit disappointing.....
So many questions just left unanswered....and after so long a book.....come on...what was the broadcast! ..and the illness? Un satisfying to say the least .
Published 2 months ago by Dr. P. C. Waterfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall I liked "The Testimony"
Overall I liked "The Testimony". It got me thinking.
There were some parts I found a bit too repetitive and I could never really connect with the characters. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brigitte Morrison
1.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Hoped It Would Be
Another reviewer has comment that this novel is in the style of World War Z in that it's a collection of people's accounts of what happened when some world event occurs. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kindle_lover
4.0 out of 5 stars Nick, Reader, London
I started this book and I finished this book. It's already been said but I will repeat, if you did not like World War Z you will not like this. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Anglo
5.0 out of 5 stars Just one more chapter...
"How to make the world divide into three camps over a single hour: make them pick between science, fantasy and religion. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ruby
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Smythe's best work, but perhaps his most ambitious.
I wouldn't even know how to begin writing a story worldwide from so many perspectives, how to write convincingly how such different people and how entire governments would react to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gary
2.0 out of 5 stars boring book
went on much to long with no interesting bits no gripping details

would not recommend this book very BORING ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Published 8 months ago by Jan
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly constructed but a tad long, and no real conclusion.
I like this story, it certainly filled by requirement of quirky, however I felt that there could have been a real explanation for the voice being heard by most but not... Read more
Published 10 months ago by V. Woodward
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