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The Testimony

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  325 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Nothing much has changed in the post-Obama world. The threat of terrorism is high, religions are warring and politics is still riddled with corruption. But when the static is heard across the globe followed by an ominous broadcast, seemingly 'ordinary' lives are changed for ever.
Paperback, 362 pages
Published April 26th 2012 by blue door (first published April 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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May 20, 2013 DanB rated it it was ok

I was so looking forward to this book but it pains me to say it bored me to tears!! For me The Testimony was a mix between World War Z (Max Brooks) and Blindness (Jose Saramago) but lacked the "Global Crisis" excitement of the former and the deeply religious questions raised by the latter.

For the uninformed the book consists of several characters who give their account of the events of the narrative. Again, WWZ surpassed The Testimony in this respect as well as I found the writ
John Wiltshire
May 30, 2014 John Wiltshire rated it did not like it
The author has taken the format of World War Z, which is a superb novel, and tried to use it here, but it doesn't work.
Something happens. People hear static, vague voices. They think they hear the voice of God reassuring them.
It's a brilliant premise and as a huge fan of apocalyptic novels I was really looking forward to this one.
Witness after witness, chapter after chapter the same thing, the same story...boring versions of how they heard the voice.
I read this on Kindle, and by the time I wa
Tudor Ciocarlie
Jul 20, 2014 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-my-best-of
A really good thinking experiment about "how to make the world divide into three camps over a single hour: make them pick between science, fantasy and religion. Give them a situation, a hypothetical situation, then give them three possible reasons for it happening – could be aliens, could be God, could be something we made ourselves and just haven't worked out yet – and ask them to choose." This novel uses the old Post-Apocalypse theme, but in a new and interesting way. The Testimony was better ...more
First there was static and the whole world freaked out. Then came a voice that said “My Children, Do not be afraid”. People said it was God, others said it was the government and still others believed it was aliens. The whole world was brought to a halt but no one had the answers. The Testimony details the apocalypse from the perspective of twenty six people around the world. James Smythe is a master at writing science fiction that will really make you ponder life and The Testimony is no differe ...more
Oct 20, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
‘The Testimony’ is essentially an incongruous combination of Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Like the former, it concerns the existential crises that erupt in the face of an event totally inexplicable by science, seeming to vindicate religion in general but no religion in particular. Also, there are no speech marks. Like the latter, it is told by a patchwork of different perspectives across the globe (although for some reason only one ...more
Angus Mcfarlane
Apr 02, 2016 Angus Mcfarlane rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller, reviewed
A free ebook. Nearly everyone in the world simultaneously hears a voice saying 'my children, so not fear'. The story follows the lives of 50 or so people as they experience the repercussions of the broadcast, or testimony. As expected, there are a lot of religious implications involved, although the majority of the action is political, albeit as a sideline to the broadcast itself. The plight of the who don't hear is also mentioned.

This is a frustrating story to read. The number of subplots, ackn
Janette Fleming
May 01, 2014 Janette Fleming rated it it was amazing

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? Declare it an act of terrorism? 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
Oct 09, 2013 Andy rated it really liked it
I tend not to give too much away in reviews but merely a flavour & for those that are intrigued I would recommend this book highly despite me giving it "only" a 4* rating - it would be nigh on impossible to rate it 5* due to it's method of delivery & that Honestly is in no way a flaw or a slur on the writing? Thats got you thinking hasnt it?

For the concept & ambition alone I would rate this book a clear 5*. It's a brave idea basing a plot on such a "small" concept, 3 lines is all :)
Steven Pilling
May 18, 2013 Steven Pilling rated it really liked it

Could be a guilty pleasure but not sure.

It is an account of the world after a voice is heard (or not) that may or may not be god.

It uses first person narration and resembles if anything a documentary with different people from all around the world commenting on affairs in retrospect.

Its a technical marvel, the plot unfolds slowly like a drip drip, there are characters from all strata so you see the changes from multiple perspectives and its an engaging concept.

The only fault is some of the c
Sep 17, 2015 Amritha rated it really liked it
The Testimony is an admirably written dystopian novel reflecting the way the world would respond to hearing a message that could possibly changing the planet forever. Referring to the “static” in the novel, a voice tells the world to not be afraid, causing different societies to question the purpose of life as they move into a state of anarchy.

Incorporating several plot twists, Smythe challenges the audience on their own beliefs and morals by providing them a scenario as they are forced to selec
Jun 24, 2014 Duygu rated it did not like it

I don't even know where to start. I only finished this book because I really really wanted to finally get answers to the million questions it raised. Unfortunately, I did not get even one answer. The author seemed to have a resentment toward religion, toward the involvement of the U.S. in the Middle East, etc etc. It was written in a sense that all of the "major" issues were a precursor to something big that was going to happen near the end of the novel however the issues were ju
Beverley Jones
Apr 14, 2014 Beverley Jones rated it liked it
If you’re the kind of person who likes to have all the ends neatly tied up and questions answered at the end of a book then this book probably isn’t for you. You have been warned!

The narrative is a series of first-person accounts piecing together the apocalyptic events following a ‘broadcast’ heard simultaneously by (almost) all the inhabitants of the planet. Chaos ensues as the authorities try to find the source of the broadcast and what it means for humanity – could it be a terrorist attack of
Ben Gwalchmai
Feb 09, 2015 Ben Gwalchmai rated it liked it
Herein Mr Smythe gives us an interesting thought experiment - it is a shame then that it has been pushed as in the apocalyptica genre.

It's possible it's been mis-categorized: I would place it as Literary Fiction.

*Spoilers hereafter*

The problem it suffers is that it isn't about the end of the world [nor teetering on the brink] at all - rather it's about how we act in crises.

1 billion people die but, if we as a whole human race wish to live as long as possible on the earth at Western living standa
I'd quite like the the book 3,5 stars. It's a very interesting concept and I like that the resolution is only partial. I haven't read any other books by James Smythe but I have been to a conference where he was on a forum and I quite liked how he presents his thoughts. He is, like his characters here, very well spoken. There are turns of phrase that he gives them, and I notice them particularly with the Americans, that an American would never use. They wouldn't even understand them as we mean th ...more
May 17, 2014 Egil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm on the fence about this book but overall it was just ok. I didn't love the oral biography style it was written in but hearing about events from dozens of different characters across the globe painted a graphic picture of the crumbling of society.

It ends without answering the big questions but that's ok. This story examines humanity and human nature more than than just telling a formulaic story.

I wouldn't recommend this to everyone but if you are a religious or political zealot you might lov
Jul 17, 2012 Tejal rated it really liked it
The Testimony is a striking debut from James Smythe. He encapsulates perfectly the sense of confusion, fear and wonder surrounding an unexplainable global event. The use of 26 narratives is a great style choice and it allows Smythe to explore the many different reactions; from religious figures who begin questioning or reaffirming their faith, to the non-believers, to those who just try to carry on like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. The gradual descent into fear and pandemonium, part ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Devlin rated it liked it
Found this in Cambridge while visiting family in the UK (love finding good books unavailable in Canada ). This is a very cleverly constructed novel with 26 narrative voices and a conceit, a voice is heard as if the voice of God throughout the modern world, that is totally engrossing. The reactions of each of the characters is fascinating and the writing is first-class and confident.

I've just finished the novel and realize , I will miss many of these characters. The weakness for me was the last
May 06, 2012 Ellie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
How to make the world divide into three camps over a single hour: make them pick between science, fantasy and religion. Give them a situation, a hypothetical situation, then give them three possible reasons for it happening – could be aliens, could be God, could be something we made ourselves and just haven't worked out yet – and ask them to choose.

First there was static, heard in every corner of the world. Some shrugged it off as a malfunction, governments were concerned it was the sign of an a
Sep 23, 2012 Teena rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
This is a compelling story of how humanity reacts to hearing (or not hearing) a message, possibly Divine in origin, possibly alien, possibly something else entirely, followed by inexplicable illnesses and deaths. I was completely caught up in the stories of how people (normal people and people in power) dealt with not only the possible implications of the message, but how society changed as a result. I was particularly interested in the stories of the people who did not hear the message at all. ...more
May 21, 2014 K rated it liked it
I was a bit disappointed in this as I'm not sure it really works all that well as a 'dystopian' or 'apocalyptic' novel which was what I was expecting.

It seems to only touch on the real implications of societal breakdown, shying away from the real gritty day to day horrors we expect of this genre. But perhaps that's more to do with our preconceptions than the fault of the novel itself! What it does pretty well is show how fragile our modern culture and concepts of ‘civilisation’ are - how little
Apr 16, 2014 John rated it really liked it
I think if a book makes you think when you are reading or when you have finished then its a good thing and James Smythe has certainly made me think!

This has probably been said before but if you like a nice clean book that ties up all the loose ends in the final chapters then this isn't the book for you.

A great modern apocolyptic story of grave proportions delivered in a very interesting way and involving a number of different characters!
Mar 01, 2013 Dor rated it really liked it
To begin with, The Testimony is ... thorough, shall we say. The "talking heads" style narrative feels slow to get going, but the fault for this should be laid at the feet of the blurb: it takes 25% of the book to cover the receipt of the message.

However, once it gets going, it gets going. It's a proper One-More-Chapter read. I wasn't a great fan of the surface direction (view spoiler) it took - just feels a bit "meh" - but I enjoyed it very much and will
May 25, 2015 Nathan rated it liked it
Virtually everyone in the world hears a voice in their heads ("My children, do not be afraid") and the world descends into chaos.

Written as one of those multi-viewpoint post-event narratives (like World War Z), this one does not have any pat answers for what is going on. And that is fine, albeit frustrating. More annoying is the fact that some of the character arcs are just not that interesting (the Russian and the Congolese and the South African come to mind), and certainly very few of them are
Aug 31, 2014 Martin rated it really liked it
I don't usually enjoy "event" fiction, but this works because it doesn't really matter what caused the event, only how people react to it. The multiple first-person narrative works surprisingly well.
Apr 06, 2013 Vicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-books
The second half of this book was so much better than the first. There was a lot of religious stuff thrown in to the first half, and as a complete atheist I struggled to remain interested. I knew there would be a religious element to the book, but it was a little bit too much for me.
Everything in the second half I found far more interesting, and so I flew through that part of the book.
I did enjoy how it was written; from different people's experiences and points of view. You go to see the littl
Mar 16, 2014 Barry rated it really liked it
Better than The Explorer/Echo. Nearly as good as The Machine.

He certainly likes the definite article!
Aug 21, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me by a friend who thought I'd enjoy it, which he was correct. Possible spoiler below.

The author tell a compelling story through the personal accounts of 20+ character and how a single event (hearing static and then a voice) changed the world. Some heard the voice of god, others belief its the work of governments or terror cells. The characters span across the globe and come from all walks of life, some of which at some stages interact, while others never meet.

How would
Mar 22, 2014 Cattrina rated it it was amazing
Not as good as "The Explorer" but still excellent!
Jack Hodges
Jun 26, 2014 Jack Hodges rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rather enjoyed it. Leaves a lot of questions unanswered and gets rather grim after about he half way mark but I'd still recommend it.
Feb 17, 2014 Michelle rated it it was ok
I found the style of the book clunky and hard to read. While the premise was interesting, I really struggled to keep reading this.
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