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The Children of Men

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  31,571 Ratings  ·  2,324 Reviews
Told with P. D. James' s trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, "The Children of Men" is a story of a world with no children and no future. 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, apa ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1992)
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Julie Yes, a kindle version is available from Amazon for $11.99. There is also an audible version that you can listen to if you have a kindle fire.
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Community Reviews

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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I went to the library to spice up my life and came across a display inviting me to go on a blind date with a book. Each one was covered in brown wrapping paper with a big red heart. Underneath the heart was a very brief description. The one I picked up said “Receptive and chilling”.

It was fun driving home with a book I knew absolutely nothing about. I couldn’t wait to get it home, pour myself a glass of wine, strip off its cover, and learn its secrets. To my disappointm
Feb 10, 2012 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, dystopia, uk
I have come to realize, years after writing this review, that is it is marked by a naïve Lamarckism--a belief in the heredity of acquired characteristics. But I'll let it stand as a reminder of my errors, and how much I have learned since then.


I never was much of a genre reader but at some time in my middle years I was assailed by a love of dystopias. There's nothing like a vivid tale of the world ending to truly set me at my ease. It did not occur to me until I read Norman Cohn's The Pursuit
"Told with P. D. James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling"...

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. I loved the movie. I thought it was brilliant, exciting, suspenseful and terrifying all at once. It was everything the book should have been... but was not.

What the book was, unfortunately, was big stretches of yawn interspersed by long-jumps of "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we fucking there yet?" and little bunny-hops of "Oh, that's
Althea Ann
Dec 09, 2016 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read for post-apocalyptic book club.

I liked this book better, the second time around. I read this the first time quite a while ago, and I think perhaps my age has something to do with the difference in perceptions. It's certainly a piece geared toward older readers. Although it contains violence and tension, it's slow-moving, with a quiet, elegiac feel.

Our narrator, Theo, a lonely academic, is the cousin of the Warden of England. The upheaval of the world's current situation has allowed the W
The Children of Men was a really nice buddy read with a internet friend outside the bookish community who has a soft spot for dystopia, something that is rather unknown field to myself. He mentioned wanting to read this book, and I seductively lured my bookish fingers around his mind and suggested us doing a buddy read, something he had no previous experience of. I also asked him to write a few words down of his thoughts for my review, and if I ever get them, I shall add them below my own words. ...more
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
"Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days."

Despite a riveting premise, I did not enjoy this novel at all.

Children of Men struggled to engage me due to an opening act that lasted for the entirety of book 1 ("The Omega"), an unlikeable protagonist and confused thematic messaging.


"We are outraged and demoralized less
* Very odd what happens in a world without children's voices .
Apr 10, 2013 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, mindfuq
This novel seriously freaked me out when I read it. I actually sat in stunned and depressed contemplation at my own lack of children and the decisions I believed I held dear at the time.

I didn't care to bring children into this world, and at the time, I hated the world pretty much entirely, so I got struck against the back of my head after reading this and I haven't really been the same, since.

The novel took me on a very disturbing ride with the ultimate death of humanity by way of sterility. T
Aug 11, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ugh! I don't like the cover of this book (the one showing on this page). Don't get me wrong, I like Clive Owen, and the 2006 movie is not too shabby but it does not have much to do with the original text apart from the basic premise; and Theo the protagonist of the movie is the polar opposite of the novel’s character. The author P.D. James is best known for her crime fiction novels mostly featuring defective detective Adam Dalgliesh who is also a poet. I have only read a couple of these Dalglies ...more
Dec 24, 2007 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed by the film, finding myself unable to muster sympathy for the characters, but I was intrigued by the basic plot and so ventured out to explore the novel. PD James' original creation follows a plot significantly different compared to that of the movie, but I found it to be no less disappointing. The main character, Theo, was perhaps even less likable, due mostly to his lack of conviction about anything during the first half of the book. I was never able to develop an intense fe ...more
Nigel Mitchell
I read this novel after I saw the movie, and discovered this novel is one of the rare exceptions where the movie is better than the novel. It's not that it was badly written. It's just that the author had the wrong focus.

The novel is set in a near future where humanity has lost the ability to have children. Worldwide sterility has persisted for so long that an entire generation has grown up without any children at all. England has become a dictatorship ruled by Xan Lyppiatt. The main character i
It's been more than a quarter century since a human baby was born on earth. Since that time, the aging population has been just sort of hanging around, preparing itself for the inevitable extinction. Some people develop strong attachments to pets or dolls. Others concentrate on self-improvement with adult education classes. BUT, the secretive and rather sinister council keeps a firm grip on everything, regulating the lives and even the deaths of all citizens.

James tells her tale with third perso
Feb 15, 2008 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the movie and can't wait to read the book.

Well, the book and the movie are definitely two separate entities. They even have different endings. P.D. James' book lacks the action and excitement of the film version and P.D. James does go on about things like the decor of Theo's house and the political makeup of her futuristic England. And I would have liked the main character Theo to behave a bit more honorably. But I enjoyed the rendering of a world in which the last baby was born 25 years a
Feb 21, 2011 Szplug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the film adaptation of P. D. James' dystopian tale on television last night - with Caine and Owen reliably excellent - for the third or fourth time; and it reminded me, yet again, how much I'd enjoyed the novel upon which it was (loosely) based. James is one of those middle-aged female British writers - Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine is another - who put their seemingly endless supply of interesting, somewhat dark stories to the page with a considerable amount of subtlety and elegance stuffed i ...more
Jul 07, 2009 Shanon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this story dull. I almost stopped at several times but pressed on based on the high ratings of friends. It wasn't until the final chapter that I really cared what happened. However, I have a feeling the story & the message behind it will stick with me a VERY LONG time. So often we refer to a birth as the "miracle of birth" but how often do we really see it as a miracle. Modern medicine and technology has removed so much of the risk for so many people. But the fact that we are still a ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Chloe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who have not seen the film.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I have a very large soft spot for the P.D. James mysteries that I'd read and Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of this book was beautiful, dark and easily the most wrenching apocalyptic film that I can think of. If only the source material lived up to the grandeur of the film.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a remarkably bleak book. It's set in the year 2021 and the last child born to humankind, twenty-five years previously, has just been killed. Somehow every p
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Dec 31, 2012 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as filmed  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every godsdamn human being
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Wotan
This is perhaps the only film from the past decade which I can watch eight plus times within a year. Compulsively rewatchable. Perhaps one of the greatest movies ever made. Something. But you mustmustmustmust watch this. It is unbelievably fantastic. Reallyreallyreally great. My enthusiasm is earnest and I won't use the required umpteen !'s required to indicate the urgency with which you must watch this beautiful, hopeful film. [and don't miss Zizek's five minute commentary]

The film is so good t
Rating: 3.5 Stars

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

- T.S. Eliot

A dystopian/post apocalypse story. Twenty five years before the story begins the Human race loses the ability to reproduce and there you are. The Apocalypse strikes - only this one doesn't consist of horrific death courtesy of a shattering virus, a planet killing meteor or environmental collapse. Humanity is left to live it's remaining years in rel
May 28, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for apocalypse novels, so maybe I'm not the most objective reviewer, but this one rocked me. It's a beautifully written, very cleverly constructed novel of ideas that also features a well-developed main character. James is writing about alienation and estrangement (personal, political, social), but she also offers a really thoughtful, really interesting exploration of political responsibility in the face of tyranny. One star gets deducted from what would otherwise be a five-star rev ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bleak and emotional narrative of the gradual decline of our society and the structure of our political system.

The food supply, gas supply and clean water is rapidly diminishing. Set in the near future, no child has been born for 25 years. The human race is quickly becoming endangered. A former professor, and the cousin to Britain's dictator, the Warden, Theo has agreed to the task of being an ambassador of a small group called the Five Fishes. When his attempts to convince the Warden that imm
Jun 04, 2007 Trin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, english-lit
I loved the recent film version of this (which should have gotten WAY more Oscar nominations, dammit!), so of course I had to read the book, which I’d been told was very different. Is it ever! While the basic premise remains the same, many of the events—and pretty much the entire meaning of the novel—were altered for the film. While the movie is LOUD and VIOLENT, the book is quiet and desolate and lonely. The book explores themes of guilt and how men (er, mostly I mean humans here rather than ma ...more
Dystopian books have a certain appeal. Dystopian films also appeal so when I watched Children of Men several years back I was impressed enough to think that I would one day read the book. I finally have.

Now this is not meant to be a "film is better than the book" review and vice versa. I, for example, love the Terrence Malick version of the very good book by James Jones The Thin Red Line. What I liked about that film was that Malick took an idea and made it into something other. The same can be
Amy | shoutame
Jan 05, 2014 Amy | shoutame rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
My overall thoughts:

1. This was such a beautifully written book, P.D James does a fantastic job of telling this story in a way that makes it so incredibly believable. The basic premise is that all the men in the world have become infertile meaning the last lot of pregnancies become the last generation of children. We follow the story of one man as he struggles with the aftermath of this event and how he attempts to hold onto the fragile strings of his life whilst life in its essence seems pointl
Jul 04, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-dystopia
This book is an allegory, but a thrilling allegory for all that. It is better and less heavy hand than say the Narnia books. The characters are a little flat but the world building is wonderful. Once the story starts moving, it really starts moving
Wendy Darling
Aug 27, 2012 Wendy Darling marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy Darling by: usagi ☆ミ
I DON'T HAVE TIME TO READ THIS. But apparently I must.
May 31, 2012 Schmacko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the great powers of speculative fiction is its ability to make us aware of things we may not have considered.

PD James was 72, the mother of two daughters, when she wrote Children of Men. (She’s still writing today at 92.) I would guess that being a mother gave her the ability to imagine a world without children, a race gone sterile. For 25 years, no babies have been born; elementary schools are abandoned and condemned, and playgrounds become graveyards. More importantly, the human race h
Alyce (At Home With Books)
You know when you start reading a book thinking it’s about one thing and then are disappointed to find it’s something else? That happened to me with The Children of Men and it was entirely my fault for not paying enough attention when the book was described to me. I heard “dystopian” and “women can’t have children” and stopped listening. My brain somehow put those two things together along with the title to draw the conclusion that “therefore the men must have the children.” After all, it does s ...more
A totalitarian world (2020s) where all humans are infertile and there are incentives for the infirm to commit suicide. Dissidents on the run, chases and hardship etc, but not as clichéd as that sounds. Gripping, chilling and (mostly) believable characters. The "science" is never really explained, so futuristic rather than sci fi? The film is very different, and not in a good way; fortunately I read the book first.

Aug 23, 2013 Zanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: future-dystopia
I was inspired to read this after watching the film, which at the time I thought was powerful and underrated, but perhaps on re-watch I'd think differently. I actually found this book quite disappointing. It's a great idea and has excellent characters, but I was somehow dissatisfied. The religious theme didn't work for me; in the film this was absent, presumably as it's unfashionable. I found myself put off by it, which is maybe just my personal prejudice. But it was simplistic, and I might have ...more
Well written novel by P.D. James who is better known for her mysteries. A thinking man's dystopia about what happens if the world stopped having children. Very subtle and understated of both complexity and the horror of the world ending. If you liked Never Let Me Go or The Death of Grass, you will like this novel.
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P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of over twenty 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 Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She served as a magistrate and as a governor of th
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“If our sex life were determined by our first youthful experiments, most of the world would be doomed to celibacy. In no area of human experience are human beings more convinced that something better can be had only if they persevere.” 687 likes
“Feel, he told himself, feel, feel, feel. Even if what you feel is pain, only let yourself feel.” 159 likes
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