Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
I picked this book up a few weeks ago in one of my weekly wanders through Village Book Store, best independent book store ever.  It appealed to me for a few reasons.  One, it was short.  I'm a bit tired of the 500-700 page books. Perhaps I'm too impatient, but occasionally I'd like to cruise through a book quickly and then move on.  Secondly, its subject area was post-apocalyptic, my personal favorite.  The premise is rather intriguing...a virus has infected literally every female in the world.  This virus, MDS, has embedded itself into every woman, child or grown up.  Once the female gets pregnant, the virus then takes over, using the idea of the immune system 'opening' itself up so that it doesn't attack the fetus, thus leaving the woman open to the attack of this virus.  The brain becomes mush, like in mad-cow disease, and eventually kills the carrier.  It's a brilliant terrorist move that ultimately spells the end of the human race.  The main character, Jessie, through which the story is told, shows us a world where there is no future.  Scientists, her father being one of them, race against time to find a cure.  Fertility specialists create 'sleeping beauties' who carry babies to term, killing the mother.  Religious extremists convince girls to join the 'Noah' project to save the world.  As a reader, I was intrigued by the story, even when I thought the writing was so-so, but as a mother, I wanted to strangle the main character.  It is, however, a thought-provoking book.  With that said, as much as I liked the idea of a 'shorter' story, I felt as if it wasn't perhaps a bit under-developed.  Then again, what do I know?  It was nominated for a Booker award and has won much critical acclaim.  I do think it would be a fabulous book club book, as it contains many controversial, provoking issues such as medical ethics, religion, parental rights, child rights, and the role of science in the future.  It would be a fascinating discussion to have between a mother and a daughter as well.  It is a quick read and in paperback, so I'd say it's worth it.

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