William Clemens's Reviews > The Testament of Jessie Lamb

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
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May 29, 12

Read in May, 2012

I was hoping for a lot from this book, and was interested after the whole controversy about the Arthur C Clarke award, and it just didn't deliver.

Imagine a world where there is a virus, triggered during pregnancy, which destroys the brain of the mother, killing both her and her child. Imagine that young girls are being implanted with pre-disease embryos in order to save the human race and religious and social group are rising up in violent protest. Imagine reading about all of this from the perspective of one very long winded teenage girl.

This is one of those books where I feel like part of the problem is how believable the teenager's voice is. Switching from the 'present' where Jessie is being held captive by her father, to the days before, explaining how Jessie arrived at her decision to volunteer as a 'sleeping beauty', giving her life to create a disease free child, the narrative is just long winded and flat feeling. I can believe the logic of a teenage girl, but I can't really care about it.

The world that serves as a backdrop, with families broken from the loss of mothers, houses abandoned, gangs of youth on the street, and increasingly violent protests/terrorism, should have been very gripping, but Jessie is so absorbed in her own thoughts that none of this feels that pressing or moving.

I think the real problem her though, is the length. The concept is great, the writing is good, but the arguments are so repetitive that I lost interest and just kept wishing this had been a short story.
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