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The Testimony Paperback – April 1, 2012

5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'[An] utterly gripping and highly original debut novel...a tour de force of virtuoso writing that explodes off the page' DAILY MAIL 'As if Philip K Dick and David Mitchell had collaborated on an episode of The West Wing ... unsettling, gripping and hugely thought-provoking' FHM 'A fiercely-imagined dystopia of the near future. Intelligent, visionary and compulsively readable' ALEX PRESTON, author of The Revelations 'A literary post-apocalyptic novel built around a clever conceit' GUARDIAN

About the Author

James Smythe is the winner of the Wales Fiction Book of the Year 2013 and shortlisted nominee for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2014. He is the author of the Anomaly Quartet which includes The Explorer and The Echo. James currently lives in London and teaches creative writing. Twitter @jpsmythe

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000746441X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007464418
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,661,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Testimony is a dystopian story which starts when everyone or nearly everyone hears a noise which sounds very like the static that a TV or radio would emit. It seems that the noise is heard inside the head rather than externally and there are various theories as to where it is coming from and what is causing it, but nothing is conclusive.

The story is told from the point of view of various people in different parts of the world. Each section is dedicated to a different person and their observations which range from one line to several pages. Some of these people keep appearing so that we understand their thoughts and what is happening to them and their families and friends as the story develops. Others appear only once or twice. Of particular note is Andrew Brubacker, the advisor to POTUS (President of the United States), as the Government in America struggles to make sense of the phenomena. Rather predictably, terrorism is high on the list of suspects.

This is a reasonably original take on an apocalyptic type scenario and the presentation works rather well, once the story starts to develop. Of particular interest is the way that when faced with circumstances that cannot be explained most people react in a superstitious way and consider that if something cannot be rationalised then there must be a religious dimension at the root of it. I will not give any spoilers by revealing how the downward spiral develops, but suffice to say that I did not find it very predictable and it was not one of those stories where the reader is constantly jumping ahead of the author.

To summarise, I found this an interesting story though not one which was particularly tense at any stage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book very much....found it easy to read and was genuinely intrigued. I didn't worry about keeping all the POVs straight, certain characters I could easily remember and i didnt worry about the weaker ones. However, I'm not sure I got the ending! I don't want to drop any spoilers , but except for a sentence or two towards the very end, I'm not sure I know what happened! :0
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Initially I was very disappointed, as James Smythe was recommended as being similar in style to Iain M Banks, and I was therefore expecting a story based around very imaginative characters, out of this world plot and vivid innovative environments. Bottom line is that Mr Banks Culture novels remain in a league of their own.
That said, the plot was based around an interesting concept and the story told through the eyes of a wide range of characters. There could have been so many more outcomes leading from the initial concept, but the story kept running at a steady pace throughout the book and there wasn't a big ending as expected!!
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By Glen Mehn on June 9, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
James Smythe writes deep, complex novels which are really rather good. The Testimony – which keeps being cheap or free on Kindle, so watch for it – gives us the perspectives of twenty-eight people when a voice starts to speak, like radio directly into most people’s brains. This affects the world on very macro and very micro scales. People die. People change. They believe more in God, or less. Smythe weaves these voices into a complex, layered tapestry to ask what it means to be human. It’s a silent book that sticks with you and resonated for days, or even weeks afterwards.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Emperor on May 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was quite well written and for the most part quite intriguing. The premise was great but I thought that the execution got steadily worse.

Also some of the storylines really didn't go anywhere and just seemed somewhat pointless.
At times it seemed quite inconsistent and people's reactions just didn't really seem true to life.


I think that people's opinion on this might vary with their tolerance for ambiguity. I thought that it was frustrating. I know that books with great premises often end up a bit of a letdown but this author didn't really seem to even try.

Some of the events were very convenient. One moment there is complete anarchy and the next moment everything seems fine.
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