The Children Of Men
- Faber and Faber
- Publication Date:
- 05 August 2010
- Modern & Contemporary
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I too first saw the movie and loved it. I was worried that the book would be a disappointment, especially as i feel the movie is a real work of art (especially Clive Owen). Fortunately, i was not disappointed. I thought the book was wonderful. I was very surprised and happy that the two were so different yet I enjoyed both so much in their own respects. Also this was my first experience reading PD James and I had no idea until I read her biography that she was a female! I was so pleasantly surprised by everything about this book I recommend it.
Imagine a world where humanity can no longer reproduce. Martial law has been declared, bands of youths impassioned by the fires within them and with no outlet for their raw energy wander the streets in search of trouble, and sexual desire has become a government priority. This is the world P.D. James creates in her novel, The Children of Men. James plays on our deep set fears of national apathy and worldwide lethargy, and uses the hopelessness caused by human kind’s sterility to expose the lengths that government will go to too maintain control and the drive that humanity has for survival. In the year 2021, humanity has lost the ability to reproduce. It was discovered in 1995 (considered year Omega) that the human race had, for some reason or another, lost the ability to have children. Our story begins with a journal entry by Oxford professor Dr. Theodore Faron describing the death of the last human on Earth to be born. Theo describes with some cynical detachment the circumstances surrounding this world wide sterility and discusses his cousin, Xan Lyppiatt’s rise to power. The national pastime is golf, and sex is no longer a national obsession but a government responsibility and a societal obligation. Theo up until this point had very little involvement in politics (after resigning as Xan’s advisor due to his trepidation about helping to govern), but when he becomes involved with the Five Fishes, Theo begins to take an interest in assisting the burgeoning rebellion against Xan’s almost tyrannical rule. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Theo is the perfect narrator, providing an incredible mix of cynicism and tinges of hope throughout a dreary portrait of the future. Interestingly enough, Theo also provides in a way the perfect lens through which to view the novel, because of his impartiality and his portrayals of rebellious activities. Though he associates with the Five Fishes, Theo never truly buys off on their almost radical ideology. He truly becomes simply guilty by association, and I feel that having a character within the novel telling us the story makes it more relatable and adds a human side to it that would have been lacking. James’ future is dystopian not due to some government conspiracy, not due to paranoia and fear of government action (though dissidents are silenced quickly and sent to a penal colony on the Isle of Mann), but because of this very lethargy brought about by the world wide sterility. Apathy is the progenitor of the misfortune that befalls this society. It is lethargy and apathy and inactivity due to a lack of hope that drives the dystopian picture of a society in decay. I liked the personable style that Theo adopted and the way he discussed the philosophy of the circumstances surrounding him as well as simply describing them. Theo’s eye through which we viewed the novel was jaded enough to offer a degree of realism, and the terror of the Omegas wandering the streets (children born in 1995) struck deep at our own fears of night time dangers.I’d highly recommend this novel as an entertaining read, but I would also recommend it for another reason. The central theme that this novel focuses upon is this: what happens when humanity loses hope? Without a reason to continue, what drives people to action, what brings back youthful passions or the desire for betterment? Without the ability to continue on, the struggle for perfection becomes a non-issue. And this is the biggest thing that James warns us against: losing the desire to strive.
This is one of the most beautiful books I've read in years. I watched the movie first (because I love Clive), but when I read the novel I was so frustrated that the book was NOTHING like the movie--why even bill it as the same story? The book was far richer, far more dark, far more lovely. The style of this novel is gorgeous, too.
Great movie. Futuristic. First child born in 18 yrs. Despair but with hope in Tomorrow
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