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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 7 December 2014
The first PD James book i've ever read (sadly she passed away last week, when i was just getting into this one) - if you've seen the film (which i loved) it's different to the film in many ways and is a fabulous read, i liked the book's outcome better than how they wrapped things up in the film, but it's different in many other ways too, although the race against time aspect is very much there, same way - and you really feel the sense of acceptance of loss for mankind, you feel more of the main character's personality from the book though, very well written, gripping and sad and i just wanted it to go on and find out what happens next!! I have already downloaded another PD James novel, i've got a lot to go at, so i'm off and running with her now. RIP what a talent.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 February 2015
I first read this book when it was originally published and decided to add it to my Kindle collection for my daughter to appreciate. A fabulous tale of a dystopian future from a superb writer.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 September 2016
My first read of a PD James book and, as I understand, her only non-detective based one.
This takes place in 2021, in a strange world where mankind has lost the ability to reproduce. I really enjoyed the first part of the novel as this strange - but I guess not impossible - scenario has to be dealt with by the remaining oldsters. As the government, led by Warden Xan Lyppiatt, tries to deal with the situation, we see the frail encouraged to commit suicide (with handsome payouts to their loved ones). Those living out in the country are leaving for towns where the services can be kept going longest, and there's psychological repercussions on the people, whether it's women buying dolls, celebrating their pets' giving birth or watching banal TV shows from years ago that show children.

The storyline features Theo Faren, a middle aged Oxford professor - and cousin of the warden. He becomes involved with an apparently Christian group, fighting against various despotic practices put in place by Lyppiatt.
This culminates in a road trip, and I rather lost interest at this point, not being entirely convinced by the members of the group.
PD James does make the reader think in the latter part, where there's a very clear Christian parallel in the events.
A very intriguing idea, but the earlier section was definitely the stronger.
*3.5
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2009
In a world where no child has been born for 25 years a small group of five rebels begin to plan to challenge the ruling dictatorship of England. But the five are far from united and seek help from Theo Faron, an academic who is the cousin of Xan the Warden of England. He believes there are many injustices and agrees to help them albeit reluctantly. He is also strongly attracted to Julian, a mysterious and lovely member of the group.

The Children of Men is a beautifully written dystopic novel The infertility has caused changes in attitudes and morality as the population becomes distorted. Many social issues are raised:
-"voluntary" suicides of the elderly
-indulgence of last born Omegas leading to criminality
-importation of other races to fill the labour gap but without being given any rights
-brutal suppression of criminals

The author also explores the way in which the regime in power wants to "do the right thing" but ends up prioritising policies and never quite coming to grips with the most serious problems.

A really interesting and thought provoking novel - and Theo is a great invention as the reluctant hero.
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on 6 September 2010
This is an engrossing yet disturbing book. Rather than concentrate on the potential reasons for the sterility of the human race in the near future (there's no reason for things being as they are -- they just are), P.D. James chooses to concentrate on what the prospect of imminent extinction does to our society and her dystopic vision isn't particularly pretty. People are driven by despair and have no real motivating force to their lives leading to the breakdown of society and infrastructure. Although there is a thriller plotline, what makes this book is not the story but the depth in which the world is fleshed out -- it's entirely self-consistent and you can see how every factor derives from humanity's loss of hope.

I'm glad to have read this before seeing the film. They're entirely different animals, sharing the same basic premise and character names, but there the similarity stops. Both are good, but while the movie is firmly in the adventure mould, the book is more for those who are looking to be challenged about human nature.
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Theo Faron is an uncomfortable hero, perhaps even an anti-hero. Beginning with Theo's diary entry for 1st January 2021, we are asked to empathise with a fifty year old man who has never loved, in spite of having been married and fathered a child. He writes with more warmth of the family cat, and turns his back on an old colleague in his hour of need. It's hardly surprising that Theo isn't exactly slitting his wrists at the idea of humankind dying out. He doesn't seem to like humans very much anyway.

All this changes, however - as so often happens - with the arrival of a beautiful woman, the oddly-named Julian, a pre-Raphaelite goddess with a misshapen hand. (The polar opposite of Julianne Moore's gung ho character in the film, if you've seen it.) Julian is one of a small group of would-be activists, wanted by the State Security Police. The moment that Theo's diary gives way to breathless ramblings about this nubile creature buying oranges in the supermarket, you know it's only a matter of time before he too is in trouble.

The book is divided into two sections - Omega and Alpha. Omega makes good use of the diary conceit to feed us the ghastly details of James's imagined Britain: desperate woman pushing dolls about in prams; christenings held for kittens; old people 'encouraged' to take their own lives. With this cowardly new world firmly established, book two - Alpha - cranks up the pace, with a cat and mouse pursuit through the countryside. A more traditional third-person narrative takes hold of the story when it's no longer safe enough for Theo to keep a diary. The violence is real and bloody, and some tight plotting saves plenty of surprises for the end.

Religious symbolism is there in spades if you want it. It's a genuinely thought-provoking book for many reasons, but just read it as a good old-fashioned thriller if you like. Yes, P.D. James is a little stuffy at times, a litte stern - a tightly-corseted Victorian governess of a writer - but once Theo is free of his precious Oxford museums the story itself takes on new life. If you've seen the film and didn't like it, try the book anyway - they're chalk and cheese.

My only real complaint is that James has an annoying habit of introducing several characters at once - in painstaking detail. The scenes where Theo meets the activist group and then, later, the Warden's Council, remind you all of a sudden that you're reading about this in a book instead of actually living the story. The narrative breaks for an intricate description of each character, one by one, and then resumes just as suddenly. An amateur mistake for such a smoothly professional writer.
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on 29 December 2011
The Children of Men is a book that paints a disturbing picture - if human beings ceased to be born, what would happen to the world? How would we continue to function, knowing that as a species, we are dying out? There are some sad, touching moments in this book - the mass suicide of the elderly (willing or not), women cherishing dolls as if they were babies, and kittens being as the ageing population try to find a substitute for childbirth and child-rearing.

The main character, Theo, is not instantly likeable, seemingly happy to be self-reliant and distanced from the people around him, teaching history to bored middle-aged women and reminiscing on his earlier years with his cousin Xan, Warden of England. However, as the story progresses, through his willingness to become involved with the underground who are striving to make the dying world a better place, even although on the surface he seems to most unlikely candidate for rebellion, and his particular way of caring for Julian, he develops into an intricate, fascinating character.
The writing is incredibly descriptive, perhaps for some readers overly so, and I had to call up my dictionary more than once.

There are some negatives to this book - I found the middle part to be incredibly slow-moving after a riveting start, however the action does pick up again. I also didn't fully understand the relevance of The Painted Faces, and wanted to know more about what they represented and why they were terrorizing people so randomly.

However, The Children of Men is today also a relevant social commentary, as the average life-span of humans continues to grow, in places the elderly outnumber the young and in first world countries the birth rate steadily falls, how immigration is managed (or mismanaged) by wealthier countries and the trial and punishment of criminals is undertaken. Perhaps, after reading P.D. James' dystopia, there could be some changed opinions
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on 5 July 2003
A nightmarish vision of a world in which man have become infertile, and the last child born 25 years ago, this is in some ways far away from James' crime fiction. The religious undertones well known from her crime, is here, though.
James shows us a world without hope, without motivation and compassion, with state-sanctioned (not to say demanded) eutanasia and with mindless violence. She also describes some of the practical problems of such a world.
Not mind-boggling, but a low-key sci-fi that should be of interest to readers of Orwell, Huxley, Burgess and others.
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on 13 August 1999
I recently reread this book, having read it about three years ago, and was again caught up in the story, which is, I suppose, now better described as alternative history than a science fiction. The book is so well written, that you soon stop thinking "but the whole world didn't becme sterile in 1995", and concentrate on the book. My main criticism of the book is that the main protagonist of the book, is not portrayed in a way that I found especially sympathetic, nor is the "heroine". I didn't feel any especial empathy for either, and I think if I had this book would definitely rated five, rather than four stars. Once one has suspended one's disbelief about the main premise of the book, the rest is eminently believable. Ms. James is obviously a real expert on people's characters and the way they react to others. Although that may seem ike a contradiction to my previous comment on the main characters, they are also very well drawn, I just happen not to like them, as I may dislike an aquaintance, rather than feeling nothing for them. All in all a very well written, gripping book
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on 14 March 2016
The format listed said CD, and this is the reason for purchase as I already had the audio tapes. when it arrived it was tapes.
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