Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Book Review: The Testimony by James Smythe

The Testimony
By James Smythe
Published by Blue Door, Harpercollins

The Testimony by James Smythe is a gripping ensemble novel of a world heading towards an apocalypse.

The Testimony deals with the fallout of a broadcast, heard by most of the world, saying 'My Children. Do Not Be Afraid.' Panic spreads across the globe, increasing tension within countries, pushing paranoia to new levels. There are riots and bombings as the civilized world slips into chaos. Smythe builds on this big concept idea, showing us a world on the brink of collapse. He takes a classic thriller plot and executes the idea in an interesting and original way.

The reader follows the lives of 26 people and how they are affected by the broadcast. The characters are a diverse bunch of people stretching from a sales executive in London to a doctor in Bankipore. At times I felt like there were too many characters and that their motivations and emotions were sometimes muted but I think this adds to the documentary 'talking heads' structure of the novel. Each character must decide if it is God speaking, an experiment gone wrong or aliens. Some of the characters hear nothing. Each character struggles to adjust and decide if they should follow blindly or demand proof.

The Testimony reminded me of Lost and 24 - big cast of characters all pushed into a big life changing event. I could see The Testimony making a great TV series and maybe fill the big gap left by Lost. Just like Lost, there are questions and quite a few of them are left unanswered.

Smythe builds the layers of action and intrigue and makes the reader question the role of faith, terrorism, politics and science in their decisions. He builds layers in each segment, adding to the dilemmas and making it more compelling with each turn of the page.

I think The Testimony would make a great interactive app/ebook. The reader could either read it as a book or the reader could click on the character's name and read their timeline.

Sometimes it is hard to pull off a book with action with intelligent bits and usually one of them has to be compromised but The Testimony is full of action and thought-proving.

The Testimony is currently out as a Hardback and ebook. You can purchase or order the book from your favourite book retailer.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy.

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