#CBR8 Review #2

The Children of Men by P.D. James

While I’ve been on my dystopian novels kick, I’ve had The Children of Men languishing on my to-read list forever. I did see the movie, though, and wanted to compare it to the original source. I had read Death Comes to Pemberley and not loved it, but I wanted to give author P.D. James another chance, particularly since she is well known for her Adam Dalgliesh series, and I wanted to give these a try, as well.

The Children of Men opens with the journal of Theodore Faron, a history professor. It is 2021, and a global fertility crisis has been in effect for the last 25 years. Women have not given birth for 25 years, libidos are down, and the world’s people enter crisis as they get older without younger people to take care of them or move up in the ranks. Theo’s cousin Xan is the Warden of England, a replacement Prime Minister and Monarch of sorts, and he has imposed order on chaos. Yet a faction group has emerged to try to bring light to the cruel and unjust practices in the nation, including elder suicide and prison conditions on the Isle of Man. And a shocking twist threatens to undo the stability and despair of the world.

This book was interesting and quick to read, but it felt a bit lacking as far as world-building and motivations for major plot points. How did the infertility set in and why? Why does the world fall into such chaos after the infertility crisis? And further, what is it about the sperm that the people place such importance on? That part felt a bit Twilight-ish to me—you know, the female vampires are dead and can’t give birth, but put that dead vampire sperm in a human lady, and voila! Instant baby (with the world’s most unfortunate name). I don’t know how I was supposed to understand this issue, but it felt a bit sexist to me. Maybe that’s just me? What are your thoughts?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “#CBR8 Review #2

  1. Fyrehaar

    I loved this book. For me PD James isn’t about world building, like classic sci fi or fantasy, she’s about the themes. What is life about? What is power? Who has it and what do they do with it? Does power corrupt? I actually preferred James’ position on infertility to the movie’s (which I think is one of the best book adaptations ever). It’s not a failing of women – their reproductive systems are working fine, it’s that men have become infertile. In a patriarchal society that places a huge emphasis on potency, how would men and society react if they become literally impotent? That patriarchy has been almost literally castrated? How is power and traditional male power expressed when the penis stops having power?

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