Told with P D James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytellingI have wanted to read this book for a long time I loved the movie I thought it was brilliant, exciting, suspenseful and terrifying all at once It was everything the book should have been but was not What the book was, unfortunately, was big stretches of yawn interspersed by longjumps of Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we fucking there yet? and little bunnyhops of Oh, that's interesting moments As a dystopia, the world that James created is plausible, perhaps even likely, should the events that changed the world come about in our own reality Mens' little swimmers forgot their floaties, and thus the race isof a floundering then a sinking, then a dying off Nobabies Wonder if anyone checked where the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement people were in Omega year 1995, eh? Sprinkling a little sumthin' in the water? Hmmmm?I digress The world plausible But I just really couldn't bring myself to care It was hard to give a crap about really anyone in this book, including humanity in general I didn't care about the fact that the whole world was dying because I didn't give a shit that the individuals shown in the book were dying Everyone was so despicable and shitty Julian was maybe the only exception, but despite her desire to change things and do something better for the world, I still just didn't care I'm supposed to care about a world when the lens I get to see it through is so covered in shit I don't even want to stand downwind of it? A man whose only thought for his 27yearsdead toddler daughter is that she was an inconvenience anyway? Really? He can't find ONE positive thing about his own daughter in almost 30 years? I liked Theo Faron in the movie He was maybe selfish, maybe not the nicest guy, but he was real, and I liked him His book character? Not so much I found it very, very hard to even muster up a little meh for him, even when he comes around to the good guys' team You know until he takes the One Ring for himself, that is Ugh, and don't even get me started on Theo's diaries You kind of expect historians to be a little dull Introverted, selfish asshole historians to be duller still But wow Seriously, fucking wow, were Theo's diary entries duller than shit Do I need a minute by minute recap of how he spent his adolescent summers at his cousin's estate house? No Please no Please Establish the history in a flashback, in a home video, in a memory, in something, ANYTHING, other than the diary entries of man who has nothing at all better to do with the unlimited vocabulary, time and Bic pens at his disposal than write the most trivial boring bullshit diary that will never ever be read ever Except by me FML This book gets this many stars. This novel seriously freaked me out when I read it I actually sat in stunned and depressed contemplation at my own lack of children and the decisions I believed I held dear at the time I didn't care to bring children into this world, and at the time, I hated the world pretty much entirely, so I got struck against the back of my head after reading this and I haven't really been the same, since.The novel took me on a very disturbing ride with the ultimate death of humanity by way of sterility The most powerful aspect of the novel was the people's reactions, how their worldviews veered off in strange ways.Suicides were all very well and obvious, but I think I enjoyed the other paths the mind took in reaction.I still can't believe that the novel had the effect of changing my mind about my life I like to consider myself pretty wellread and aware, but sometimes a huge kick in the head can come out of nowhere I changed my mind I wanted to live I wanted children I hadn't wanted children before.Very big life choice, no? Maybe it saysabout me than the novel I don't really know It did surprise the hell out of me. I have come to realize, years after writing this review, that is it is marked by a naïve Lamarckisma belief in the heredity of acquired characteristics But I'll let it stand as a reminder of my errors, and how much I have learned since then.I never was much of a genre reader but at some time in my middle years I was assailed by a love of dystopias There's nothing like a vivid tale of the world ending to truly set me at my ease It did not occur to me until I read Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium why dystopic narratives were so satisfying on an almost physiological level I realized it was a hardwired need, evolved by centuries of my whackjob millenarian forebears, for apocalyptic solace These eschatological needs are still within me and going strong They include a desire for angels as messengers of the apocalypse, an irrational longing for the rewards of paradise, and an overwhelming desire to witness those less pure of heart than myself receive their fiery comeuppance.Fortunately, unlike my forebears, I have not had to run riot over the Bavarian countryside acting out my delusions by stringing up debauched clerics and those belonging to the socalled hostile faiths, but have been able to sublimate the evolutionary inanities through art I am happy to report that The Children of Men does at times rise to that exalted level Here is a world in which men have gone sterile You just can't find fertile semen any Some women, denied their customary reproductive roles, have gone bonkers They end up baptizing cats and dolls and such (Other women, one imagines, are dancing a jig so tickled are they to never again have to risk another perineum tear.) One thing I liked was the image of the world preparing to go on without mankind For in the vacuum left by the end of human fertility all the other flora and fauna seem to redouble their efforts Our hero is Theodore Faron A sardonic at times bitter retired professor of history at Oxfordthere are nochildren to teachwho ran his daughter over in a tragic accident many years ago His wife never forgave him, then she started banging this rugby player half her age Theo happens to be cousin to the Warden of England, Xan Lyppiatt, a childhood friend, who is running a thuggish police state During the first half of the story the state is in the process of redistributing its thinning population to central locations for purposes of making delivery of services easier At least that's the excuse The first half is all clandestine meetings of the dissidents and background into Theo's boyhood relationship to Xan Then it turns into a road story not without parallels, though fleeting, to Cormac McCarthy's The Road Though, it should be emphasized, this is not a postapocalyptic world goingoutwithabang novel, like The Road, but rather a civilization fizzlingoutwithawhimper story Nevertheless there is sufficient violence and craziness and survivalist mentalities employed to keep everyone happy There is an intimation of the second coming, personal betrayal of the basest sort, and headlong hysterical flight There is an elegant density of diction that is consistent throughout, and I found that the descriptive sections, especially in the actionpacked second half of the book, touch on the beautiful Highly recommended for thriller lovers Mandatory for lovers of dystopic fictions. Reread for postapocalyptic book club.I liked this book better, the second time around I read this the first time quite a while ago, and I think perhaps my age has something to do with the difference in perceptions It's certainly a piece geared toward older readers Although it contains violence and tension, it's slowmoving, with a quiet, elegiac feel.Our narrator, Theo, a lonely academic, is the cousin of the Warden of England The upheaval of the world's current situation has allowed the Warden, Xan, to seize absolute power The current situation is that no children have been born for over two decades, and no others are expected to be born Humanity is facing its end However, largely, life goes on as per usual, although with fading hope and increasing ennui Most citizens, concerned with their daily comfort, do not perceive the iron fist concealed within the Warden's velvet glove Even Theo doesn't see the Warden as anythan the acquaintance whom he used to spend school holidays with, when they were both boys.But then, Theo is contacted by a tiny group of dissidents with a list of grievances they'd like him to bring to his cousin's attention And gradually, they win him over to their point of view (It doesn't hurt that one of them is an intriguingly attractive woman.) The likelihood is that Theo's sympathies won't make any difference The Warden is in love with power, and not amenable to making any significant changes.But then, a shocking revelation is made: the intriguing dissident is pregnant.Where the book takes it from here is into a complex and insightful exploration of human dynamics It's full of religious allegory, but certainly does not demand that the reader have 'faith' in order to appreciate its depiction of how religious people might behave in the given situation (They do a lot of dumb and illogical things within the course of this book, but I found it all utterly believable.) And it'sthan that: it's about how we see people vs how they are, about love, loyalty and betrayal, about guilt and redemption, and of course, the seductive nature of power and the erosion of ideals I recently read 'The Book of the Unnamed Midwife' and thought that it reminded me of this book (after all, how many postapocalyptic midwives in a world affected by universal sterility are there in fiction?) but upon rereading, it'sdivergent than I recalled (perhaps the movie version, which is quite different, was beclouding my memories of the book.) Now I realise I read the book before the movie was in the cinemas! great story, impressive and a creepy view on a dystopian future I love the Dalgliesh stories too. Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twentyfive years, two months and twelve days Despite a riveting premise, I did not enjoy this novel at all.Children of Men struggled to engage me due to an opening act that lasted for the entirety of book 1 (The Omega), an unlikeable protagonist and confused thematic messaging THE PLOT We are outraged and demoralized less by the impending end of our species, less even by our inability to prevent it, than by our failure to discover the cause The novel is painfully plodding Julian, the miracle mother, is not introduced until chapter 6 and the actual action of the novel doesn't occur until past the halfway point The failure of the novel to properly identify the central plot question results in meandering and self indulgent story telling On the periphery of a boring story about a privileged, emotionally dead, intellectual, interesting plot lines are suggested The harrowing forced suicides of the elderly, exploitive immigration policies, total social ennui But theseinteresting tangents are buried beneath a punishingly dull tale that eventually reveals itself to be a confused reflection on the corrupting influence of power and, bizarrely, a religious parable THE WORLD BUILDING You desire the end but close your eyes to the means You want the garden to be beautiful, provided that the smell of manure is kept well away from your fastidious nose.” The world building is by far the strongest aspect of Children of Men The detailed inclusion of geopolitical, psychological and economic impacts of such a cataclysmic event are well thought out A number ofrecent dystopian writers could do worse than to study James' sophisticated approach Unfortunately, like so much else in this beleaguered novel, the world building is under utilised Broad swaths of the world building could have been cut out without any impact on the central plot.THE WRITING If from infancy you treat children as gods they are liable in adulthood to act as devils The prose was very good Occasionally even poetic But so many horrifying scenes were written with a cold detachment that left me distanced from the emotion of the moment CHARACTERS I don't want anyone to look to me, not for protection, not for happiness, not for love, not for anything I have never known what it is to love I can write those words, know them to be true, but feel only the regret that a tonedeaf man must feel because he can't appreicate music, a regret less keen because it is for something never known, not for something lost.” Despite having finished the book just 40 minutes ago when I got to this section for a moment I couldn't remember Theo's name (the protagonist) He was thoroughly unlikeable I cannot understand why he was the character chosen as the protagonist Why, in a story about infertility and a miracle birth, do you position a stuffy, unfriendly man who accidentally killed his only offspring, as the central protagonist?Further, almost all of the side characters were unpleasant Julian was an insipid, walking womb and mouth piece for true faith Xan was a power drunk, closeted homosexual Nobody in this novel inspired admiration or affection.THEMESThe Purpose of Life Man is diminished if he lives without knowledge of his past; without hope of a future he becomes a beast.” In her personal life James is a deeply conservative Christian So it is unsurprising that Children of Men, often described as her best work, explores the premise from a slanted lense Much effort is expended to compare commercialised, end of days religions with Theo and Julian's authentic, private beliefs.The novel is at times scathing of many modern practices; worship of the body, science as god but James muddies her message by trying to communicate a message by subsuming it beneath the power struggle between two men She would have done better to write aopen religious parable It might not have been to my taste but it would have felt coherent A Meditation on Power A regime which combines perpetual surveillance with total indulgence is hardly conducive to healthy development.” Upon finishing the novel I was left with a sense of squeamish disquiet regarding Theo's triumph over Xan Theo had overcome spiritual inertia and successfully protected Julian and her son, the saviour of humanity However, rather then end the novel on this hopeful note James has Theo take control of the country and murder his cousin This outcome is meant to be ambivalent and I can't understand why it was included It felt like Children of Men was telling two oxymoronic stories Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Fertility Don’t romanticize her She may be the most important woman in the world but she isn’t the Virgin Mary The child she is carrying is still the child of a whore.” In a novel that centred on fertility, James managed to make every female character ridiculous Whether she was describing the deranged women who christened kittens and nurture dolls, repulsive senile elderly women, psychopathic, ugly female leaders or the devout but brainless Julian they all felt like paper thin shells Devoid of real characterisation and agency.Much has been made of the fact that it is defunct sperm that causes the fertility crisis, as if on this fact alone, the novel should be considered a feminist win That assertion is frankly ridiculous I'm baffled by the decision to frame a story of fertility around the memoirs of a privileged male academic who dislikes children, remembers his own daughter with jealousy and guilt, and feels he has suffered no personal loss due to the fertility crisis It isn't that it can't be done, or that it offends my political principles, it is just that it strips so much potential depth and meaning from the story.Overall, I regret reading it and wouldn't recommend it, although readers who enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or Ugh! I don't like the cover of this book (the one showing on this page) Don't get me wrong, I like Clive Owen, and the 2006 movie is not too shabby but it does not have much to do with the original text apart from the basic premise; and Theo the protagonist of the movie is the polar opposite of the novel’s character The author P.D James is best known for her crime fiction novels mostly featuring defective detective Adam Dalgliesh who is also a poet I have only read a couple of these Dalgliesh books and never really cared for them A “poetdetective” just seems too pretentious and unappealing to me When I heard that they were filming Children of Men I was intrigued though, I did not expect Ms James to write a science fiction book worth filming, I thought she was one of those mainstream authors who just want to take a stab at scifi without really understanding the genre Anyway, I first read Children of Men in 2006 shortly before the movie was released because I prefer to read the original source material before watching the movie I owe P.D James an apology, she did a stupendous job That said this book is“speculative fiction” than scifi because there is very little science in it It isof a thought experiment where the author explores the social any individual implications of the basic premise, the sort of thing Ursula K Le Guin excels in.Children of Men can reasonably be labeled as a cozy apocalypse or even a cozy dystopia It has a high concept premise where in the year 1995* women all over the world suddenly became infertile As extinction events go this is a very polite one, but quite alarming when you consider the implication Imagine the human race slowly winding down with a global aging and declining population In the UK where the novel is set this leads to general despair and ennui in the middle aged and older age groups and uncontrollable wildness in the youngest generation The year 1995 is called Omega, and the people born in 1995 are called “Omegas” These Omegas are generally wild and literally allowed to get away with murder because they may be the last hope for mankind's continuation The event of the novel itself takes place in 2021, 26 years after the year of Omega The protagonist is called Theo Faron, a disillusioned English gentleman who happens to be related to the Warden of England, a position of supreme power, far in excess of the office of Prime Minister or the President He used to be a close adviser to the Warden until the day he up and left because he could not stomach the abuses of power At the beginning of the novel he basically spends all his time just pottering around, not needing to do any work One day he is approached by a girl called Julian who asks him to contact and petition the Warden about various woes of the British society and the outrageous abuses of power The petition goes badly leading to the birth of a less than competent group of dissidents Initially the Warden views these dissidents as something of a joke but soon something momentous happens which causes Theo, Julian and her dissident friends to go on the run The England P.D James depicts in this book is a lonely, depressing place where suicide is common, and even encouraged and facilitated by the government I won't reveal the plot beyond the basic outline already mentioned so far, I do find the book to be very nicely plotted, melancholy, eventually thrilling and the denouement isthan satisfactory The prose is exquisitely written and makes me want to pick up someof those Adam Dalgliesh novels just to readof her beautifully crafted sentences The main characters are very well drawn, particularly Theo who is very flawed, sympathetic and believable, someone you can really root for He starts off as a kind of wishywashy antihero:“I don't want anyone to look to me, not for protection, not for happiness, not for love, not for anything.”I like how his character gradually transforms by his circumstances as the story progresses The character of Theo is the polar opposite of the character of the same name portrayed by Clive Owen in the movie version P.D James’ Theo is a very polite middle aged and middle class English gentleman, kicking ass and taking names is not in his purview, he is rather awkward and bumbling at times though when push comes to shove he does whatever he has to do.The dialog is also praise worthy with characters getting burned left and right The switches between the first person epistolary narrative format and the third person narrative seems a little pointless as the narrative point of view is always restricted to Theo and follows the same linear timeline Still, I am sure James has her artistic reasons and these switches do not impede the readability of the book at all Children of Men is one of my favorite dystopian books alongside 1984, Brave New World, Make Room! Make Room! etc This sub genre continues to be very popular today, though the modern dystopian novels tend to be teen adventures for some reason Children of Men is the real McCoy.* In my PrintSF scifi discussion group I often see someone comment that they don’t want to read “old scifi” where the author got their prediction wrong and the future setting of the novel is now the past and these old books are not worth reading because the author was so far off the mark Well, excuuuuuse me! It is not the job of scifi authors to predict the future, the whole point is to speculate and explore the implications Children of Men is a case in point, P.D James certainly was not anticipating global infertility to occur 1995 (the book was first published in 1992) This novel – like many great sf novels – is asking “what if” I shouldn’t mind really, it’s their loss missing out on so many great books but it’s a bee in my bonnet you know. 3.75* Very odd what happens in a world without children's voices. Told with P D James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to liveand they may also hold the key to survival for the human race Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Depressing.It describes a hopeless, sterile future.Nochildren, nolight, noexpectations.But what if there is a ray of light? What if there is a woman pregnant afterthan 25 years without any births on Earth?“Feel, he told himself, feel, feel, feel Even if what you feel is pain, only let yourself feel.” When I read Dystopian fiction, I want to read about hope and expectations that oppose the darkness This is one of the darknest Dystopian books that I have ever read, but it can certainly change the way you think and it can definitely convince you to reevaluate your life and your aims.I want to fight for a better future I want my children and my children's children to fight for a better future Everything is part of the survival game nevertheless.