Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Children of Men” as Want to Read:
The Children of Men
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Children of Men

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  35,583 ratings  ·  2,724 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, apathe ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published December 5th 2006 by Vintage (first published 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Children of Men, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  35,583 ratings  ·  2,724 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Nancy

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
...more
William2
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, dystopia, fiction, 20-ce
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
...more
Becky
"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
...more
Althea Ann
Dec 09, 2016 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
...more
HFK
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
Bradley
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...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.

THE PLOT

"We are outraged and demoralized less
...more
Annet
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apocalyptic, creepy
Now I realise I read the book before the movie was in the cinemas! great story, impressive and a creepy view on a dystopian future. I love the Dalgliesh stories too.
AMEERA
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
3.75
* Very odd what happens in a world without children's voices .
Melki
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
...more
Sophia Triad
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Depressing.

It describes a hopeless, sterile future.
No more children, no more light, no more expectations.

But what if there is a ray of light? What if there is a woman pregnant after more than 25 years without any births on Earth?

“Feel, he told himself, feel, feel, feel. Even if what you feel is pain, only let yourself feel.” 

When I read Dystopian fiction, I want to read about hope and expectations that oppose the darkness. This is one of the darknest Dystopian books
...more
Apatt
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Alex
Dec 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Szplug
Feb 21, 2011 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
MK
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. Easy, compelling writing. The characters of Xan and Theo are very complicated.

Hope to find time (not now) to see the movie, and read Aldiss' book, Greybeard, which Aldiss appears to believe James ripped off, for her story.







-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Interesting connection to Greybeardby Brian W. Aldiss, noted in a goodreads user's review for this book:

Greybeard
by Brian W. Aldiss
416390
Paul Bryant's review Jul 10, 2016
* * * it was ok
booksh
...more
Maria Thomarey
3,5 καλο αλλα ποτε δεν τρελενομουν γι'αυτην Τζεημς ...
Judy
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Dec 31, 2012 marked it as filmed
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
...more
Labijose
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Posiblemente, el hecho de haber leído la novela tantos años después de su publicación ha hecho que no me haya llamado tanto la atención como cuando se publicó hace ya más de 20 años. Y también influye que acabo de ver la película de Cuarón del 2006, y la he encontrado mucho mejor adaptada al relato que la obra de PD James. Y eso que la película está bastante distanciada de la novela, o quizás mismamente por eso.

De las dos partes de la novela me quedo con la primera. La segunda (la escapada y per
...more
Shanon
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Chloe
Jan 26, 2009 rated it liked it
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
...more
Dagio_maya
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: distopica, europea, fanta
Mi chiedo se, per alcuni grandi scrittori (penso, ad esempio, a Saramago, McCarthy, Atwood...) la spinta a scrivere una storia distopica sia la stessa che periodicamente mi fa sentire il bisogno di legger questo tipo di storie.
Nel mio caso si tratta della necessità di rivivere una paura: anestetizzandola, tenendola a bada, circoscrivendola alle pagine di un romanzo.
Non sono una buona lettrice di gialli quindi non conosco l'opera di P.D. James specializzata in questo genere; sono stata, invece,
...more
Checkman
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
...more
Manny
Nov 21, 2008 rated it liked it

Not a bad book, but IMHO the movie is much better. P.D. James has a nice style, but it doesn't begin to compare with the film's stunning cinematography.
4triplezed
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
...more
Patrick
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Thomas Edmund
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm always a fan of more classic dystopian settings. I must be getting old, but the recent fad for heroic young lass' saving the world from shallow and controlling governments seems a little too trite for my tastes.

Where Children of Men gets it right is thorough social commentary seamlessly stirred in with a good story so that one never feels the world is fake or artificial, nor does one ever get bored with the lack of action.

Relatively short The Children of Men is enjoyable and thought provokin
...more
Trin
Jun 04, 2007 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
Cecily
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.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin
  • After London: or, Wild England
  • Summer of the Apocalypse
  • The Sheep Look Up
  • Vanishing Point
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • The Unit
  • Emergence
  • Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
  • Hello Summer, Goodbye
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Beyond Armageddon: Twenty-One Sermons to the Dead
  • The World Ends in Hickory Hollow
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • The Pesthouse
  • Earth Abides
2,151 followers
P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.

The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at
...more
“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.” 165 likes
More quotes…