Arthur C Clarke award winner The Testament of Jessie Lamb
We’ve got on an assignment for our Post-Millennial British Fiction module and I chose to do post-millennial British dystopian fiction…made it easy for myself you know. After looking at the texts on the module I decided to do Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which when I finished it I realised I actually really liked it. The other dystopian text on the module was J.G. Ballard’s Kingdom Come, however it did take me a while to get into it. So, I spent a long time bothering Waterstones staff for a dystopian book but one of my lecturers recommended Jane Rogers’ The Testament of Jessie Lamb and the plot interested me instantly. The novel won the Arthur C Clarke award for 2012 and was longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2011.
In the not so far distant future, 16-year-old Jessie Lamb lives in a world where there is a virus called Maternal Death Syndrome (MDS) that affects all pregnant women and that will jeopardise the future of the human race. Women who have the virus will die eventually. In a race to find a new way of giving birth, scientists come up with a programme that will put young women (girls around the age of 16 incidentally) into comas and allow them to give birth. However, the girls will not necessarily wake up from this coma yet Jessie is determined to do something for humanity.
I’ve only just started the book but already I found it really interesting. It’s from the point of view of Jessie and from the first part of the book we get the impression that she’s being held prisoner. She then delves into her past (much like Cathy does in Never Let Me Go) when she remembers about when she found out someone she knew got MDS. It’s bizarre because something like this could easily happen. With science, if someone has that idea and the access, ability and authority it could be so simple to start something that could in fact ruin the human race. It just shows how fragile humanity really is in the hands of someone who has the knowledge and want to make a drastic and maybe even negative change.
I am actually looking forward to reading the rest of The Testament of Jessie Lamb and I’m hoping I can use it for my assignment. It’s spooky when books are written with a kind of day after tomorrow background because it provokes a lot of thinking.