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The Testament of Jessie Lamb Paperback – 25 Feb 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (25 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905207581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905207589
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 608,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A little like The Handmaids Tale colliding with Children Of Men, Jane Rogers eighth novel offers a variation on one of the most chilling apocalyptic scenarios. In the near future, every woman in the world has been infected by some kind of airborne contaminant which causes maternal death syndrome (MDS). Anyone who becomes pregnant will automatically develop a form of CJD which ultimately kills them. She also quite explicitly carries over themes from her earlier bestseller, Mr Wroes Virgins, which, recast for the genome-mapping, eco-terrorist 21st century, prove soberingly durable. ALASTAIR MABBOTT --The Herald PAPERBACK OF THE WEEK

With Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go having hit the big screen, this is set to be a good year for literary dystopias that pack an emotional punch. With that adaptation, it's a case of if you like the film, you'll love the book, but if you can take any more bleakness you'll be blown away by this new novel by Jane Rogers. The scary thing about this novel is that the questions it raises are so close to home. Must women always be the victims and the fall guys? The novel does not set up an elaborate apocalypse, but astringently strips away the smears hiding the apocalypses we really face. Like Jessie's, it is a small, calm voice of reason in a nonsensical world. KATY GUEST --The Independent

Jane Rogers has captured Jessie's voice brilliantly, alternating a teenager's solipsism with a growing awareness of the wider world. Jessie's self-conviction is both admirable and infuriating, and the reader is torn between her clear, unequivocal conclusions and the intricate, heartfelt compromises of her parents. LUCY DALLAS --Times Literary Supplement

Jane Rogers has captured Jessie's voice brilliantly, alternating a teenager's solipsism with a growing awareness of the wider world. Jessie's self-conviction is both admirable and infuriating, and the reader is torn between her clear, unequivocal conclusions and the intricate, heartfelt compromises of her parents. LUCY DALLAS --Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

Would you fight to save the world your parents have destroyed? --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The subject matter of "The Testament of Jessie Lamb" ensures that this is not a comfortable read. Set in the near future, Rogers has imagined a truly terrifying virus that affects pregnant women, known as Maternal Death Syndrome or MDS. Everyone carries this illness but the effects, a cross between AIDS and CJD, ensure that all pregnant mothers will die - without exception. Scientists have found a way to save some of the unborn children, but only by placing their mothers in a chemically induced coma from which they won't recover. Now though, the scientists have also discovered a way of immunising frozen, pre-MDS embryos which, if they can be placed in a willing volunteer, may ultimately allow the survival of the human race. However, the volunteers need to be under 16½ or the likely success rates are too low. Step forward one Jessie Lamb.

The Booker longlist can be relied on to throw up at least one novel on a controversial subject. Last year it was "The Slap". This year it's this novel. There's no doubt it asks awkward and unsettling questions about a variety of issues including the age at which people can take informed decisions, the rights and wrongs of scientific research and animal testing and the right anyone has to chose their own death. There are no easy answers to any of these questions of course.

As you might infer from the title, the story is written from a first person narrative by Jessie. Often with first person narratives it's difficult to get a true steer on the character herself. Effectively she's dealing with the usual teen dramas of arguing parents, failed love and general `what's the point of me?' stuff. She's into environmentalism and vegetarianism, all in the idealistic way of many of her age.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A worthy winner of the 2012 Arthur C Clarke award.

Clear, uncluttered writing and a 16 year old protagonist do not (necessarily) make this a young adult's book. Whilst not gratuitous or frequent, there's sex, violence and strong language here. And it's unflinchingly presented: no rose-tinted, watered down view of the real world here.

There are many themes to this book, and like all good science fiction it's a lens through which to view our own world. Through Jessie we witness varying views on environmentalism, activism, poverty, feminism, the media, genetic engineering and stem cell research. This is painted against a convincing backdrop of a world facing a disaster that's imminent enough to be a real threat but distant enough that attempts to combat it are divided and morally incompatible; human nature being what it is, people simply prefer to argue with each other.

A dollop of on-the-nose hypocrisy from Jessie's beloved parents (they advocate an extreme solution, as long as it doesn't involve their own daughter) brings the worldwide tragedy down to the family level; and it's shocking and powerful just how ordinary that family is.

Jessie herself is clear-thinking and resolute, but there are questions raised as to whether she truly realises the enormity of what she's undertaking. And these questions remain beautifully unanswered.

The book can be interpreted in many ways, and has many themes; my own interpretation is that it's an examination of abortion and a woman's right to choose, inverted through a science fiction world: here we have young women determined that their children have a right to life, even when it costs their own.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My overwhelming reaction to The Testament Of Jessie Lamb, is surprise, surprise in fact that it has been nominated for this years Booker Prize and is currently on the longlist. Not because it's a bad book, in the way that say There But For The by Ali Smith is, in my opinion, a bad book, but because I was surprised it met the criteria.

In the case of this book, it appears to have been marketed as adult contemporary fiction and only has an adult imprint, a decision I find a little baffling, for a novel whose audience I would see as a GCSE student. As a piece of young adult dystopian fiction it is good, but I've read better, most notably The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness to which it shares a similarity in an aspect of plot.

It lacks much in originality I felt given its similarity in theme to The Children Of Men by PD James, later adapted for the screen starring Clive Owen. In the world of Jessie Lamb, there has been an act of bio-terrorism, as a consequence there has been a global fertility crisis. When women get pregnant - they die. (Hang on a minute? Wasn't that what happened to pregnant women on the island in LOST as well?) In this brave new world, set not far from our present, no more children are being born and the population of women is dropping, as those who do get pregnant never survive.

Jessie Lamb is 16, and when we meet her she is being held captive, and she recounts for us what has been happening to ordinary people since the crisis emerged. At 16, Jessie is idealistic and looking for a cause, and causes find her. The animal rights movement, the womens movement, the Noahs, and YOFI. There is a degree of cynicism in Jane Roger's writing about young people who look for a cause to be involved with.
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