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The Children of Men by P. D. James

The Children of Men (1992)

by P.D. James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8681551,331 (3.56)223
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» See also 223 mentions

English (153)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
After watching the movie and listening to the book, the two bear little resemblance to each other. Other than the cast of characters and the setting, the stories are completely different. Although both are good in their ways. The only weakness I felt was in the believability of the setting, once I got past that and just went along I enjoyed the ride. ( )
  charlie68 | Nov 28, 2015 |
In the first few pages of the book, you are introduced with an extremely interesting premise: for unknown reasons, in the not too distant future, people on earth completely lose the ability to reproduce. It's a bit hard to wrap your head around it, but just imagine that suddenly, every man and woman on earth was sterile. This story takes this one idea and builds the world around it, explaining how society would react.

It's a fascinating concept that allows for a lot of creative discussions. Just how would people react if they thought the human race would die out? What would life be like with no children, at all? How do our values change given the possibility that there will be no one to remember our legacy? These sorts of questions are thrown at you from the get go, and the story can get you really hooked.

Unfortunately, the Cauron's creativity seems to run out near the end of the book and get replaced by a relatively uninspired chase & thriller. We have a great premise and the promise of an interesting world around it, but towards the end, the story just seems to run out of steam. It's still a very worthwhile read, if only to get you thinking about the issues implied by the story, but I feel like it could have been even more. ( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
This is a rare case when a movie is actually better than the book. Of course it's hard to compare sometimes, when the movie ends up being a totally different entity than the book it's supposedly based on. I saw the movie first, and because I loved it so much and wanted to go straight to the source of all that love, I read the book. I was severely let down, and realized that all my love is for Alfonso Cuaron, the movie's director (whom I loved in the first place, so it wasn't a big shock).

I was continually put off my the main character's lack of actual human emotions, which I understand may be a little warped after living for 25 years in a world where all men are suddenly and mysteriously rendered infertile. The story waffles between being written in the form of Theo's journal entries (even he doesn't understand why he keeps his journal, for there is no such thing as posterity anymore) and being written in the limited third person.

I was intrigued by some of the story elements that the author failed to expound on (and were only implied on the movie) such as humans treating their pets like babies, because they could no longer have real babies. There are rituals surrounding births of kittens, because the infertility is only in human males, and illegal christenings take place, just so that the priests still have something to do. I wish I had seen more of this dying world, and the author had explained more about the social elements, but the story was more concerned with the half-assed plot about a group of weirdos wanting to overthrow the government. P.D. James had an intriguing idea for a story, but where did it go when she started writing it? I'm glad the movie cleaned up some of her embarassing plot lines, and changed that piece of crap ending. ( )
  leirali | Jul 25, 2015 |
The Children of Men begins in England in 2021, in a world where all human males have become sterile and no child will be born again. The final generation has turned twenty-five, and civilization is giving way to strange faiths and cruelties, mass suicides and despair. Theodore Faron, Oxford historian and cousin to the omnipotent Warden of England, a dictator of great subtlety, has resigned himself to apathy. Then he meets Julian, a bright, attractive woman, who wants Theo to join her circle of unlikely revolutionaries, a move that may shatter his shell of passivity.... And maybe, just maybe, hold the key to survival for the human race. Summary from publisher

Tried this in audiobook form on the recommendation of a trusted friend. Narrator David Case’s supercilious accent, which had put me off THE FORYSTE SAGA, proved apt for this novel about an effete society trying to keep itself comfortable--by any means--until the end of the world.

Exposition, a good third of the book, was a slog for me...until the end of the story revealed how important it was for understanding THE CHILDREN OF MEN’s underlying themes. I am getting into spoilers here but I find it frustrating that other reviewers merely retell the main plot points without drawing conclusions. Of course it’s possible to enjoy THE CHILDREN OF MEN as a science fiction story depicting how the remnants of English society cope with the end of the world caused not by global warming but by male sterility. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Ms James conflated elements from the Biblical infancy narratives and Exodus to create a modern-day thriller complete with Herod/Pharoah/Xan, Joseph/Moses/Theo and Mary/Julian, not omitting Miram/Miriam. In this way the author suggests to us that humanity has--more than once-- lived in the shadow an imminent apocalypse, that the end of the world may not come in the form we expect and that injustice, slavery and despotism might be undone by the birth of a child.

THE CHILDREN OF MEN is a story that stays with me, asking me to look at things like power or apathy in a more personal way. It also got me to recognize myself--not in the protagonists, the few brave dissidents--but in the complacent nation governed by the Warden of England; the ones who ignored the inhumane conditions for prisoners on the Isle of Man and who used foreigners as slave labour to preserve comfort up to the end....of everything. Good wake up call...

8 out of 10 Highly recommended to all. ( )
  julie10reads | Apr 4, 2015 |
Interesting - this belongs to that tiny category of books whose movie version I liked more. Which didn't mean the book didn't hold me. The premise is great, and unique, and PD James can write. It was as if Graham Greene had decided to write a work of speculative fiction. But James' ladling on the Christianity put me off - Greene, one of the great religious writers of fiction, would never have been so maudlin, nor so nostalgic about fading middle class mores. Meanwhile the film has several things going for it: it wisely shifts the focus to phenomena much more reflective of British reality in 2006 (and today) - like terrorism, state repression, and immigration. Clive Owen is much more engaging than James' dislikeable hero, there is no silly love story, and the victory, if there is one, is not his - or England's, for that matter. It's a complete rethinking of the premise, bringing a large and quite different looking world into focus. Three cheers for the movie, two and a half for the book. ( )
  CSRodgers | Feb 8, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James, P.D.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Biavasco, AnnamariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guani, ValentinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Again, to my daughters
Clare and Jane
who helped
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Friday 1 January 2021

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 twenty-five years, two months and twelve days.
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Book description
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 live and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307279901, Paperback)

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 live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In 2021, with the human race becoming extinct because of the infertility of all males, Oxford historian Theodore Faron is drawn into the schemes of an unlikely group of revolutionaries out to save society.

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