• The Testament of Jessie Lamb

  • A Novel
  • By: Jane Rogers
  • Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham
  • Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (56 ratings)

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The Testament of Jessie Lamb

By: Jane Rogers
Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham
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Publisher's Summary

A rogue virus that kills pregnant women has been let loose in the world, and nothing less than the survival of the human race is at stake.

Some blame the scientists, others see the hand of God, and still others claim that humanity is reaping the punishment it deserves for years of arrogance and destructiveness. Jessie Lamb is an ordinary 16-year-old girl living in extraordinary times. As her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her toward the ultimate act of heroism. Jessie wants her life to make a difference; but is she heroic, or is she, as her scientist father fears, impressionable, innocent, and incapable of understanding where her actions will lead?

Set in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman’s struggle for independence. As the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart, Jessie begins to question her parents’ attitudes, their behavior, and the very world they have bequeathed her.

Jane Rogers has written numerous books, including Mr. Wroe’s Virgins, Island and The Voyage Home. She has won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Writers’ Guild Fiction Book Award. A professor of writing at Sheffield Hallam University, she lives near Manchester, England.

©2012 Jane Rogers (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc

Critic Reviews

"Jane Rogers has captured Jessie's voice brilliantly, alternating a teenager's solipsism with a growing awareness of the wider world. Jessie's self-conviction is both admirable and infuriating, and the reader is torn between her clear, unequivocal conclusions and the intricate, heartfelt compromises of her parents." ( Times Literary Supplement, London)
"The novel does not set up an elaborate apocalypse but astringently strips away the smears hiding the apocalypses we really face. Like Jessie's, it is a small, calm voice of reason in a nonsensical world." ( Independent, London)
"A wonderful evocation of teenage confusion, passion, and idealism." ( Daily Mail. London)

What listeners say about The Testament of Jessie Lamb

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling

I'm a sucker for apocalyptic stories, and this one fits the bill. The premise isn't original, but it's handled in a way that I found immensely interesting. I especially enjoyed the background events as people group and splinter as they adjust to the new reality. The book asks a lot of questions about sexuality, parenthood, and consent, but it doesn't really answer any of them. This might be a great selection for a book club.

The book is written in first person and the limited viewpoint can be frustrating, especially since the protagonist is a teenage girl. On the other hand, she is realistically written and while I, as an adult, find her decisions difficult to accept, they are exactly what many teenagers would do.

I don't usually get emotional over books, but I did tear up a little at the end. I only wish that there had been an epilogue to the story, something to let the audience know how the MDS situation shakes out.

Fiona Hardingham does an excellent job with the narration. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another book with her as the narrator.

There are a lot of issues with the book. As mentioned before, the premise is unoriginal, the protagonist is, at times, unlikable, and the end of the book leaves the reader with questions. But the book is extremely compelling and has a story that will stay with you long after you have finished it.

1 person found this helpful

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Meh!

The book was okay I guess... Wasn't exactly my cup of tea. It dragged on too long, with many miscellaneous tangents that could have been eliminated or shortened, while not otherwise effecting the underlying story. While I did get through the book, I didn't find it terribly engrossing. Overall, it was just okay... Not great, not awful...

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How did this win an award??

There is nothing to recommend in this book. A depressing juvenile suicide fest. Any interesting idea was treated like the plague.

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How the hell did this win the Arthur C Clarke?

I would have given everything except the reader 0 stars if possible. This was a grotesquely misogynistic, trite, cloying, nauseating mess, with most of its most interesting themes and concepts are left wildly un- or under-examined. I realize some of what I dislike about it is down to the narrator being a very believably rendered teenager, but it really does come across like the audience is actually supposed to accept in the end that she’s a noble, brave, clear-eyed, morally superior hero saving the world by committing an extremely elaborate suicide via pregnancy. It also truly comes across that women in this world fall into exactly three categories: passive caretakers who contribute only problems when they try to break out of the role, shrieking harridans cruelly and unfairly blaming men for the literally murderous exploitation of teenage girls’ reproductive capacity, and heroic incubators who save the world by voluntarily entering medically induced comas to have pregnancies which are guaranteed to kill them. Other characters in the story try to talk the main character out of her suicidal plan, in part by pointing out that there are other ways to try and cure “Maternal Death Syndrome” than by asking teen girls to die in an effort to gestate new children who are immune and that as a bright young person she might contribute her intellect rather than her corpse to those efforts, but she and the narrative ultimately seem to decide those people are deluded by false hope. The only thing a woman can contribute of value in the world of this story is to have a baby and die, and she has to do it before she turns 17. It’s like Ms Rogers read The Handmaid’s Tale and thought it was too radically feminist, and tried to write a story where the Handmaids were volunteers fighting against foolish scientific prejudice and the sad, mislaid wishes of their own families in order to ~save humanity~ by literally dying to have babies. It’s just the worst. I guess since it was long-listed for the Man Booker and won the Arthur C Clarke some people must have liked it, but I sure as heck wasn’t one of them.

The woman who read the audiobook was wonderful, tho. I wish my first experience of her reading had been with a better book.

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Great storyline

The narrator did a great job! The story was very creative and I enjoyed listening to it. I never really got close to any of the characters. Sad topic so it was not an uplifting read.

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I was caught immediately

The story is very engaging. Deep questions being asked. Answered differently from the perspective of each character. I really didn’t want the story to end. Two thumbs up for this one!

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Great Concept, Bad Execution

This book reminded me of Blindness. Bad situation turns bad people worse. There are no likable characters. I will give the author credit for exploring difficult topics (the arrogance of science, herd mentality, fanaticism, etc) but the whole thing was so politically charged and everyone was being so mean to each other I quit at about 50%. Never mind that most of the “plot” is a bunch of conversations. It felt like reading Heinlein.

I’m sick of nihilism! I want to read about people actually rising above their circumstances, not collapsing into Lord of the Flies at the drop of a hat.

Hardingham did a great job narrating. I hope she finds more work.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

YA tale that is rather juvenile

Jane Rogers' The Testament of Jessie Lamb offers a nightmare vision of a microbe that has infected everyone on the planet and specifically kills pregnant women. The tale is related from the perspective of a teenage girl, still living at home, and presents her struggles with her and her generation's attempts to deal with the situation. Eventually she volunteers to become a 'sleeping beauty,' placed in a coma, become implanted with a frozen embryo that is microbe free and carry the baby to term after which she will die.

While there is little exploration of the science behind this 'weapon' as well as who is responsible or their motives, there is much focus on youth reactions and responses. At the same time, there is the unavoidable clash of anti-science and anti-technology along with religious fervor and dogmatism and political maneuverings. Unfortunately, all of this takes place through the lens of a naïve teenager and comes off as simplistic and incomplete. The various iterations of teenage romance simply become tiring. In addition, regardless of how sophisticated the microbe has been designed, it's hard to imagine, every single human being on the planet being affected so quickly and every pregnant woman to be susceptible.

The narration is adequate with moderately good character distinction and relaxed pacing.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Distopia

So I expected something different. This book is well written. It is very dark, and unlike my expectation, slow in developing- slow is not the right word, the story rests in itself.