Book Reviews of The Children Of Men

The Children Of Men
The Children Of Men
Author: P. D. James
ISBN-13: 9780679418733
ISBN-10: 0679418733
Publication Date: 2/16/1993
Pages: 241
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 48

3.9 stars, based on 48 ratings
Publisher: Knopf
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

38 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Children Of Men on
Helpful Score: 8
This is my first P.D. James novel and I will certainly read another. She spends a good deal of time developing her main character. Kinda getting in their skin.

I saw the movie before reading the book. They are very different. The movie has much more action and ends totally different then the book. The film versions charming Jasper played by Michael Cain has only a very minor part here. Theo's ex-wife also has a diminished role in the book and is merely another law abiding citizen.

Turns out I like both film and book versions because they vary so much. I fact, nothing in the book will spoil the movie or vice versa.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A very frightening, chilling tale about how mankind reacts to the knowledge of its sure extinction. What was most disturbing to me was how quickly the human race devolved into a group of uncaring, bored, apathetic, selfish, savage creatures in such a short time with the horrifying realization that there was no hope whatsoever that humankind would continue to inhabit the earth when the present population was gone. It made me wonder what the tiny thread of hope is that we cling to that keeps us (at least in our own minds) from being no better than savage animals. Is it faith? knowledge? prosperity? For we know that when things such as these are missing (Darfur, for example) we really are savages.

A good read. Frightening, but worthy of reading.
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Helpful Score: 3
Truly a good book about what could happen when there is no future to look to
reviewed The Children Of Men on
Helpful Score: 3
For thinking readers!
reviewed The Children Of Men on
Helpful Score: 3
This was the first book I ever read by James, and by far my favorite. Very insightful, much deeper than one might think. I read the book long before seeing the movie. I thought the movie was an excellent adaptation, but had to be changed in order to suit the motion picture medium. Regardless whether you read or watch first, I recommend doing both and expecting the book and movie to be different.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
An entertaining story. A little slow in places, and the narration switches from first person to third person every chapter, which is a bit distracting. Currently a movie with Clive Owen. A story that makes you think.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Very entertaining and thought provoking.
reviewed The Children Of Men on
Helpful Score: 2
The premise of the book really makes you think. But the story started slowly and drug on and on. About 1/2 way through it began to pick up a little and then ended unsatisfactorily.But I did enjoy the prompt to my imagination as to "what if it really happened"
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
An amazing book and a change of pace for author P.D. James. It's a futuristic/religious/mystery/thriller (say that five times fast).
This book is being made into a film starring Clive Owen.
Highly recommended.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
oddly disappointing towards the end. I kept waiting for things to make sense or resolve. And instead, we just wandered along.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Children of Men takes place 20 odd years after the entire human population has become infertile. This novel has a very post-apocalyptic feel to it. Every country except England is wrecked with anarchy. England is holding it together under the totalitarian regime of the Warden. In many ways, this is an England not unlike that portrayed in Alan Moore's graphic novels "V is for Vendetta."

The story is partially told through the journals of Theo, a middle age curmudgeon who happens to be the Warden's only living relative, and partly through an all-knowing third person narrator. I enjoyed this style because while it makes you privy to Theo's most intimate thoughts, it was also refreshing to get out side of his self-involved head.

The book and the movie only share the most basic plot structure. In both, the world's population is infertile, a zealot leads England's government, and one man, Theo, needs to help a pregnant woman to safety. The movie is more action packed and several characters are changed or condensed. When reading the novel, the reader gets to know Theo better and understand the malaise that takes over when there is no forseeable future. The endings of both vary greatly.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An awesome book about the terror that the future could hold with out children to brighten it and the wonderful promice that new life brings!! I couldn't put it down MUCH BETTER than the movie. A must read.
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Helpful Score: 1
From Publishers Weekly :
In her 12th book, the British author of the two series featuring Adam Dalgleish and Cordelia Gray ( Devices and Desires and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman , respectively) poses a premise that chills and darkens its setting in the year 2021. Near the end of the 20th century, for reasons beyond the grasp of modern science, human sperm count went to zero. The last birth occurred in 1995, and in the space of a generation humanity has lost its future. In England, under the rule of an increasingly despotic Warden, the infirm are encouraged to commit group suicide, criminals are exiled and abandoned and immigrants are subjected to semi-legalized slavery. Divorced, middle-aged Oxford history professor Theo Faron, an emotionally constrained man of means and intelligence who is the Warden's cousin, plods through an ordered, bleak existence. But a chance involvement with a group of dissidents moves him onto unexpected paths, leading him, in the novel's compelling second half, toward risk, commitment and the joys and anguish of love. In this convincingly detailed world--where kittens are (illegally) christened, sex has lost its allure and the arts have been abandoned--James concretely explores an unthinkable prospect. Readers should persevere through the slow start, for the rewards of this story, including its reminder of the transforming power of hope, are many and lasting. 125,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The book wasn't as great as the movie was due to its lackluster ending and lack of real depth for the characters. It was hard to care for anyone in the book besides Theo. The book was still good and shined the light a lot more on the culture of the time but failed to build up as much suspense or emotion as the movie did.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Decent apocalyptic science fiction by an exceptional mystery writer.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I liked the book, but didn't like the characters, especially the protaganist. It was hard to root for him.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Dystopia with a very British sense of character development. Have not read any other PD James - but this is a very good start!
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
WAY better than the movie, this is a book about hope. PD James explores life without children, despair, faith, selfishness, and love. It's a short read -- less than 200 pages, but powerful with messages and ideas that will stay with you. Great book.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Easy reading, but just kind of boring. The characters were two-dimentional and the plot dragged. The ending was also rather disappointing. Overall, it just seems that the author tried to get readers invested in her tale, but the characters were just one stereotype or another with very little else to them. The most interesting character was Xan, but that was only because the author revealed so little about him. It was a good idea that was just poorly executed. I didn't see the movie, but based on the book I don't think I will bother.
reviewed The Children Of Men on
Helpful Score: 1
Great book. Not like most PD James' mysteries. This was a Book of the Month Club selection.
reviewed The Children Of Men on
I thought the idea is a very interesting one-knowing that mankind will become extinct. I liked the beginning of the book, but then too many things got "hokey." I am usually not a "skimmer" when I read, but I did find myself doing just that towards the end of the book.
Glad I read it as it is not the genre I usually pick up. I just think it had the potential to be better than it was.
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 72 more book reviews
P. D. James' fluid command of the English language is thrust into the spotlight in this amazingly emotional and highly realistic story set in a dystopic future world where all women have lost the ability to conceive children. In a world without hope of any future, governments slowly erode and the youngest generation alive devolves into animalistic criminal behavior, while one man named Theo observes it all. The action is set in James' own England, and the plot is highly thrilling as secrets in this dreary, dying world are revealed and the stakes are raised for Theo and the other main characters. Written poetically, the novel is a prime example of dystopic fiction and spiritually-significant storytelling, and the stunning conclusion will stick with one forever. The film version, while somewhat different, is a great, fully-realized work of art, too.
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New movin coming out in 2007 with Clive Owen.
The year is 2021 and the world is in dispair. No children have been born since 1995. gripping futuristic story.
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Set in 2020, twenty-five years after the last child was born on earth. Not a Dalgliesh mystery.
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If you saw the film don't let it keep you from this terrific book. The plot revolves around the proposition that the world would be a very different place if mankind lost the ability to have children. James explores some of the changes she thinks would occur. This is a rich complex novel that starts slow but becomes increasingly enjoyable culminating in a satisfying believable conclusion.
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I really enjoyed this book, mostly because it was one of the better written books I've read in a long time. James does an excellent job of creating effective characterizations- honest, human (or realistically inhuman), and believeable. It was not much like the movie, however.

From here on is a spoiler- important details will be revealed.

The premise is that there is a plague of infertility throughout the world in the late 1990's. The last generation to be born, the Omegas, are treated with almost religious awe in hopes they will reproduce (they can't). The first half of the book develops the history of the crisis and the cultural reactions developed to help people live in a world that is dying. Old people kill themselves in mass numbers, in events called a Quietus, because there is no one to care for them. As cities shrink, those remaining move to urban areas to concetrate services like power and water, which the government tries to guarantee as long as possible. Schools and colleges develop adult learning programs to take up time of those normally using it to raise children and grandchildren. Women invite friends for a celebration in the birth of a pet, who they christen like a child, or carry around dolls in prams to disguise their desperation to conceive. Others are expected to congratulate them on their new arrival. There is a general sense of hopelessness because it is certain there will be no human future.

The story is told through the eyes of Theodore, a history professor in his 50's, and cousin to the leader of England. The story deals with the relationship between the two men, interspersed with information about the world created by mass infertility. Theodore meets a woman, Julian, who approaches him to intercede for a group of 5 people who wish to reform the government, which they feel has become a dictatorship. Theodore quickly falls in love with her, unrequited due to her married state. He leaves the country for six months, only to return and find her the first pregnant woman in 25 years. The rest of the story deals with Julian and the birth of her child, which she wishes to conceal from the outside world as long as possible.

Brief literary analysis

This book reminded me a lot of 1984, and seems to especially follow the style and tone of the book. I almost wonder if James took up the project with this in mind. Theodore's constant relationship with his cousin is much like the protagonist of 1984 to Big Brother. Theodore is initiated into a protest of the leader (Xan or Big Brother)through his relationship to a woman who reveals to him the honest horror of aging. (Similar to 1984 where the protagonist confronts aging with an elderly prostitute, then finds love with a young woman who reflects his changing world view.) The ultimate conflict is with Theodore's identity becoming the state identity, a change Julian notices immediately when he puts on the ring of the dead leader, just as the protagonist of 1984 ultimately realizes after his torture, that he is Big Brother. The text is very rich and could be analyzed much further. I recommend it to anyone who likes books of the genre.
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Far too much exposition and far too little story. Much of the first half of the book had little or nothing to do with the actual story and the ending was extremely unsatisfying. Cannot recommend.
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Pessimistic look at the future, much talked about in some political-fan circles.
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Extraordinary novel of the future set in England 2021. This is a world where all males are sterile and no child can be born again. Theodore, an Oxford historian meets a woman named Julian who invites him to join a circle of revolutionaries. Do they hold the key to survival for the race?
reviewed The Children Of Men on
Amazing. Well written and a terrifyingly beautiful portrait of a world without a future and without hope. Haunting.
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What a great book - from the primo mystery writer, PD James. She exercises all of her suspense skills in this new genre.
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Fine book and adventure out of which they made a movie. Clearly a traditional British writer I would say. Good Read
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Excellent read and an usual genre for the author: dystopian visions of a near future. P.D. James is such a fine writer, regardless of what vein she works her craft.
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first, this book is totally different from the movie ...it was like literature and the language was rich which made it all the more enjoyable.. this book has been lamentated ..BACK COVER the human race has become infertile and the last generation to be born is now adult..civilization itself is crumbling 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 her get 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...
reviewed The Children Of Men on + 139 more book reviews
Not science fiction, not fantasy; rather, a very British futuristic Watching the World End, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Well-written. Not a pleasant read. Little redeeming to the characters but then does anyone really know, or can anyone really guess, what it will be like to be in the last generation of men on earth?
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From Publishers Weekly
In her 12th book, the British author of the two series featuring Adam Dalgleish and Cordelia Gray ( Devices and Desires and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman , respectively) poses a premise that chills and darkens its setting in the year 2021. Near the end of the 20th century, for reasons beyond the grasp of modern science, human sperm count went to zero. The last birth occurred in 1995, and in the space of a generation humanity has lost its future. In England, under the rule of an increasingly despotic Warden, the infirm are encouraged to commit group suicide, criminals are exiled and abandoned and immigrants are subjected to semi-legalized slavery. Divorced, middle-aged Oxford history professor Theo Faron, an emotionally constrained man of means and intelligence who is the Warden's cousin, plods through an ordered, bleak existence. But a chance involvement with a group of dissidents moves him onto unexpected paths, leading him, in the novel's compelling second half, toward risk, commitment and the joys and anguish of love. In this convincingly detailed world--where kittens are (illegally) christened, sex has lost its allure and the arts have been abandoned--James concretely explores an unthinkable prospect. Readers should persevere through the slow start, for the rewards of this story, including its reminder of the transforming power of hope, are many and lasting. 125,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
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From the book back:
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, apathitic 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 of the human race.

"As scary and suspenseful as anything in Hitchcock."
- The New Yorker
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Tough to start. Not as good as i thought it would be. Interesting second half but the characters were not that compelling.