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The Children of Men Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Vision (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446364622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446364621
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"A book of such accelerating tension that the pages seem to turn faster as one moves along." —Chicago Tribune

"As scary and suspenseful as anything in Hitchcock." —The New Yorker

"Extraordinary. . . . Daring. . . . Frightening in its implications." —The New York Times

"Fascinating, suspenseful, and morally provocative. The characterizations are sharply etched and the narrative is compelling."—Chicago Sun-Times

“Extraordinary … daring … frightening in its implications.”
The New York Times

“She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery.”
The Times (UK)


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

P. D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She lives in London and Oxford.

Photo credit Ulla Montan

Customer Reviews

It had a very interesting story line, and a was a great read!
Daniel D Pesta
The book, though pretty lengthy, just didn't seem to develop the characters or even the plot well enough.
Merany Eldridge
I decided to read this book BEFORE I saw the movie and I'm glad I did.
J. Brandt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Frikle on December 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Note: for those who have seen the movie, remove your preconceptions when starting to read this book. It is quite unlike the movie.

The premise is simple - the entire human population has been rendered infertile. Any scientific attempts to find or fix the cause have failed spectatularly. And so, the world is heading to a very quiet and desperate extinction. The population ages and diminishes as people await the inevitable fading away of humanity. More importantly, hope and meaning have gone. There is no longer a point in doing anything because it will all soon disappear. The result is a world of atrocities and chaos. These have been largely avoided in the UK due to the rational dictatorship of the Warden and his cabinet, who have engineered calm and stability, with many tradeoffs on human rights and freedoms. Enter Otto, the Warden's cousin who is an academic and an unsympathetic snob. He is drawn into the beginnings of an extremely small, almost laughable rebellion, but one that changes Otto and the future of the country forever.

This is an extremely simple novel in its world description. Everything flows naturally from the premise, including all the new neuroses that society is stuck with. The book almost feels sparse. So if you insist on fast-paced thrillers only this is not for you. The reason I loved it was because in its sparseness it gives itself - and the reader - a lot of space to think and consider the issues. Unlike the movie where the government is sadistic and evil, things are much less black-and-white in the novel. There is almost an ambivalence for most of the work as to the question of whether the Warden's methods are wrong. The book is very emotional and almost spiritual -- James is magnificent at giving a sense of longing and nihilism present in a world that has no future. It's worth a read just for that.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This subtle and thought-provoking work of science fiction is quite different from P. D. James' detective stories, but as well-written as the best of them. The premise is brilliantly simple: in 1995, all over the world, the human race has become incapable of propagation; now, in 2021, an aging and dwindling population faces an existence without future, hope, or apparent purpose. England has become an outwardly benevolent police state, maintaining a veneer of normality with the tacit acquiescence of an apathetic population. James does not belabor the process by which these social changes have taken place, but her vision is all too plausible.

I read the novel in the movie-tie-in edition, with a picture of Clive Owen on the cover looking through a broken window of grimy glass. From what I have seen of the trailer, the photo is a perfect summary of the movie's atmosphere of apocalyptic urban decay, but it couldn't be less suitable as an illustration for James' book. I shall have to wait to see whether this is merely a question of emphasis, in that the scenes shown in the trailer perhaps do not represent the balance of the whole, or whether the entire movie has been transposed to a quite different world. For now, I am writing only about the book.

Although the future setting may take the reader into an alternate reality, the book is still very much anchored in the familiar world of the present. A common theme of all James' novels is what happens when the civilized world, the comfortable world of the upper middle classes, is touched by evil, and the books depend upon the author's ability to invoke that world and its inhabitants. The first half of the novel takes place in and around Oxford, the city in which nothing ever changes, as one character remarks.
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56 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Logical Libertine on October 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have never read any works of PD James - however I wanted to read the inspiration to the film recently released.

Many reviewers feel that James is 'overly descriptive'... and yet I felt that was what kept me drawn in. Some writers 'write' ... PD James paints her story with her words. Not to mention so much of the descriptions were metaphores of the very stark world in which these characters found themselves in.

This isn't a book you rush through for plot... its a book you savor, with hopes that all will be well with the world in the end. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amy Peterson on March 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Usually when I see a film that was made from a book, I read the book first (as fast as I can.) This time I saw the film first, and it was amazing.

Then I read the book.

I have to say, this is the first time in my life that I can honestly say "the film was better than the book."

The film had a more honest ending, believe it or not.

The story focuses on the man. It begins in Omega. The first half is a long, drawn out reflection on this man and his world and his life and his history and how bitter and annoying and pathetic and sad he is and how he knows it, and doesn't want to share it. Then something changes in him and he finds hope and light. That is Alpha.

Then the book flips over in the second half and does the most annoying things. It's MUCH better handled in the film overall.

In general, the writing and prose is really great and PD James is in top form, but the story??? Again, weirdly, much better as a film. Totally different take on it all in the film. Be prepared for a wild ride in the film, but more of a pony trot in the book, and, as far as I was concerned, a rather predictable and pathetic ending.
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