The Testimony by James Smythe

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 17.18.39So this was one of those iBooks weekly freebies, and I gave it a go. Spoilers ahead. First thing. What’s it called? The Testimony on the cover is dwarfed by DID YOU HEAR IT?, which made me think that was the title.

It wants to be some kind of Crichtonesque end-of-civilisation thriller, but it ends up just seeming really long and irritating. Took me ages to get through it.

Key wrinkle is the use of multiple narrators, which seems all right at first, but then nothing really happens with that except the story seems much longer. Some of the narrators, you realise, aren’t adding much to the story at all, so you start speed reading their bits. And they’re all a bit irritating, hard to root for.

It takes a Simpsonseqsue view of human nature. You know, how in the Simpsons how the whole town ends up rioting and looting following some minor event. So in The Testimony people hear some kind of mysterious broadcast with no known origin, and just totally lose their shit. And then there are terrorist attacks (or are there?) and a nuclear war, and a horrible immune deficiency disease, and everything falls apart.

And then it seems to stop falling apart. Hundreds of thousands dead, nuclear dead zones all over the place, but suddenly that’s it. And the mystery of the broadcast isn’t ever solved, and you end up feeling like you’ve wasted your time.


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