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The End of Men

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Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would life truly look like without men?

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.

The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland--a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic--and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien--a women's world.

What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus's consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague; intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal--the loss of husbands and sons--to the political--the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

In The End of Men, Christina Sweeney-Baird creates an unforgettable tale of loss, resilience and hope.

416 pages, Paperback

First published April 27, 2021

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About the author

Christina Sweeney-Baird

1 book451 followers
Christina is the author of THE END OF MEN, her debut novel, which is being published in 17 languages. The film rights have sold to a major Hollywood studio. She lives in London and is currently writing her second novel.

As a fan of both books and lists, Christina is a devoted Goodreads user. Her favourite authors include V.E.Schwab, Julia Quinn, Maggie O’Farrell, Ann Patchett, Marian Keyes and Sarah J Maas.

Her favourite books of all time that she recommends to everyone are:
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

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Profile Image for Christina Sweeney-Baird.
Author 1 book451 followers
April 17, 2021
Did I give my own book 5 stars? That would be a yes. But I promise you it’s a very good book. It has everything you could want:
😦 a gripping thriller
❤️ heart-wrenching relationships and loss
✨bubbles of humour
👩🏼‍⚕️strong, wry, determined characters
👩🏽‍🤝‍👨🏼 and an exploration of gender and its impact on the world, through the lens of speculative fiction as a deadly plague quickly wipes out 90% of the world’s male population leaving women, and some men, to adapt, cope, survive their losses and restructure the world in a different way from dating to childcare to hospitals to Parliament to industry to agriculture. What would change? What would stay the same?

⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from an (admittedly) incredibly biased observer (but if you can’t give your own book 5 stars, who can?)
160 reviews4 followers
December 28, 2020
I was really intrigued by the premise of this book: what would happen if there was a virus that wiped out much of the male population? The author makes it clear that the book was drafted before the outbreak of Covid-19 however many readers will find it hard not to draw parallels when the real virus has a higher rate of severe illness and mortality in the male population than females. In a way, I think it is unfortunate for the author that the global pandemic hit as she was writing this book as the general population will be more aware of the science of virology and genetics than previously.

My background is in physics so my biology knowledge is not the strongest however I found myself puzzling over one character's explanation of why it appeared to take 135 days (p160) for scientists to be able to explain that the vulnerability of males to the virus was related to the fact that they only had one X chromosome. The character then went on to use male twins to explain why only 10% of the male population is immune and claiming it was "Basic genetic logic." (p162) I hold my hands up to not being a geneticist but if "the Plague requires the absence of a specific gene sequence...present in the X chromosome" and only "9 percent of men" have the necessary protection, this implies that each X chromosome has a 9% chance of creating immunity. For women, this probability does not increase to 100% because they have two X chromosomes. If the above 9% is true then I would assume that the immunity rate for women is double (as you only need one correct copy). As all women were immune it would have made more sense for the vulnerability to have been coded into the Y chromosome with only 9% of Y chromosomes conferring resistance. This theory is undermined by the explanation of finding that "identical twins were both immune but their father was not [and a] set of male fraternal twins has an immune father but only one of the twins was immune".

This, unfortunately, wasn't the least of my science-based confusion. I could perhaps go along with the A&E doctor who was ignored (presumably for being a hysterical woman) at the beginning of the pandemic but much of the early part of the book implied that despite the fact men were dying in ever-increasing numbers, the pandemic wasn't taken seriously. There are numerous papers etc that discuss the fact that historically the medical community has focussed predominantly on health concerns that disproportionately affect men. For a modern-day comparison, one could point to the immediate interest in treating 'Long Covid' compared to the response to the arguably similar conditions ME/CFS which predominantly affect women. Towards the end of the book, there is a brief reference to advances in the treatment of endometriosis etc however this seems poorly extrapolated to the global response throughout the novel.

I was also surprised that the author thought it likely that the source of the pandemic would have been sought out by the same A&E doctor a long while later. Here again, the author is likely to be scuppered by the public's unprecedented access to information on a global pandemic. Genetic sequencing of the virus usually gives researchers an idea of what species the virus mutated from even if Patient Zero is never identified and it is one of the first things that researchers will look at.

The final section imagines how the world would be once a vaccine was created and I found this equally bemusing. Perhaps I am alone here but if only 10% of the male population was left, I find it hard to believe that there would just be a "lottery" or another system for women to have a form of IVF without some form of compulsory sperm donation program? Maybe I missed that part but I would have thought a priority would have been acquiring adequate sperm to repopulate which may have lead to potential human rights infringement protests from males who wanted to retain choice. It was unclear to me why only China would have split into 12 independent states and the Moldovan women would have chosen to imprison all the remaining males for participating in sex trafficking (this seemed particularly broad sweeping). Instead, those with traditional families and immune husbands seemed to carry on as though nothing had changed whilst the risk of population collapse lingered. It also came across that many women were happy to switch to single-sex relationships, as though sexual preference/orientation is purely a product of your environment. If this plotline had been switched to imply the remaining gay men became heterosexual, would there possibly be more raised eyebrows?

Ignoring these scientific logic flaws, my biggest gripe with the novel is probably that even though the author attempted to tell the story of the pandemic from a large cast of characters' perspectives, they all ended up sounding very similar. This meant that I was constantly having to try to remind myself which character was which even though the names and cities were listed at the beginning of each chapter. As far as I remember, there was one male character perspective and the rest were females that seemed to be from very similar socioeconomic backgrounds. I felt as though the women were also of similar ages with a heavy emphasis on how desperate these women are to have children. There lacked the nuance of the perspectives of straight women who chose not to have children for example.

I did read to the end but I think this novel can be summed up as "not for me".
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,155 reviews36.3k followers
April 7, 2021
Review to be posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Wholly and Completely Brilliant.

Yes, I read a book about a Pandemic in a Pandemic.

Some would say that’s in poor taste, and yet, I couldn’t resist. I am not one to shy away from difficult topics and frankly, “The End of Men” is brilliantly written, brilliantly plotted, and gave me a lot to think about given the state of things. For me, this showcased how much that has gone on in our world relating to how things were handled (in real life) compared to how they were handled in the book (which was written before our pandemic hit - though it isn't being released till now).

The year is 2025 during which time a virus breaks out at an A and E in Scotland.

The virus impacts only men.


When a man is admitted, he arrives with what appears to be symptoms of the flu. Three hours later, he is gone. Shortly thereafter, several more men lose their lives the same way. All of these men were in the A and E two days prior. Dr. Amanda McLean is a doctor in the A&E who immediately notices the trend and reports it to HPS to no avail.

She is deemed a stark raving lunatic by her peers at HPS and her messages are ignored.

And so it begins. An Outbreak of Epic Proportions.

Once it starts, entire families stay home.
Women, men, children. Yet this virus does not discriminate. If you are of the male species, you are at risk, unless you are immune.

Amanda McLean will not rest until she is taken seriously and until she does everything she can to help.

There is Catherine, who after facing a devastating loss, compiles stories of families who have also suffered. There are Elizabeth in the UK and Lisa in Canada, both of whom are scientists and who work to find a vaccine. There is Toby, who is currently on a boat off the coast of Iceland with his identical twin Mark, hoping to stay alive.

These characters and their stories will stay with me. Heartbreaking, yet hopeful at the same time, these characters were a great reminder that we must take stock in each other and be there for each other during these incredibly tough times.

The analysis behind how scientists in this book discovered that the male plague impacted only men (with women being carriers) and why some men were immune was truly fascinating, as was how long it took for a vaccine to be discovered. That alone gave me pause considering where we are at in the world, with this pandemic.

It also made me extremely thankful. I just received the second dose of the vaccine and am so very grateful.


All in all, “The End of Men” gave me a lot to ponder. The storyline was extremely well done as was the character development. I truly enjoyed getting to know all of the characters (even though there were a lot to keep track of) and will not forget them anytime soon. Reading this now, made me appreciate life that much more and it gave me a lot of perspective.

I have to give kudos to the author for an incredible accomplishment. This is brilliant, character-driven fiction at its finest. This book will most certainly be on my Goodreads Best-of-List for 2021.

Thank you to Cassie at Putnam Books/GP Putnam’s Sons for the arc via NetGalley.

Posted on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.


Profile Image for Jaidee .
561 reviews1,024 followers
July 14, 2022
2"the end of men, me and meh " stars !!

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Penguin Random House Canada. This was released April 2021. I am providing an honest review.

A virus in 2025 eradicates nine in ten men. The women are carriers. Ok ok ok...the premise is very cool but how will the author pull this off. She mostly doesn't !

She takes a huge cast of characters and tells their story of losses and how they cope. Except they are mostly exceptionally very bright, progressive, privileged white women. Hmmm a suburban feminist manifesto methinks. Ok ok there is a filipina but she is very motivated and an oppressed Russian woman ok ok and a very bright woman who is black and british. Oh yes a few men too...they are not as bright but they are loved dearly by this bunch of women who want to save them. Gosh is this really just one brave white superwoman taking on all these roles ? Wtf?

The other thing about most of these women is that they all have the same personality sort of like thinking Stepford wives who are all so caring, nurturing and giving. A bit barf worthy here !

The prose is middling and acceptable and oh my goodness don't forget the trans woman nurse in Scotland who is spunky and ever so brave and high functioning !

Anyhow I was mostly bored out of my gourd of these extremely high functioning white women behaving ever so valiantly while at the same time dealing with their immense grief. Oh yes I know there was the Russian and Filipina and Black Woman too but they behaved like strong white American women too.

The premise was excellent .... the attempt was semi-valiant....the execution not so much !

Profile Image for Natalie.
3 reviews7 followers
May 1, 2021
This book has the dubious honour of being the recipient of my first ever Goodreads review. And let me tell you, it’s not a positive one. I bought it as a new release from Waterstones as a treat after nights and I resent the £15 I paid for it.

I love dystopian fiction and the premise of this book sounded fascinating, as well as timely. However, this book is unfortunately ill-researched and will likely be unreadable to anyone with a scientific or medical background.

We are asked to believe that one of the main characters is an A&E consultant. However, she describes a temperature of 38.8c as “barely elevated” (spoiler: that’s actually really quite high for an adult); a matron is busy delivering clinical care in A&E; shocks during resuscitation are delivered with “paddles” (not for 20+ years, my friend) and the consultant claims to have “never seen a case” of MRSA (absolutely ludicrous, I’m a junior doctor and have seen a fair few cases), which is depicted as some untreatable illness, when actually your average local hospital probably has at least one patient on long-term antibiotics for MRSA. I could forgive the odd implausibility but this novel reads like someone’s watched a couple of episodes of Casualty and decided they’re true to life. I’m astounded it’s obviously not had any input or editing by a healthcare professional
given its subject matter. Unfortunately, I could not suspend my disbelief to anywhere near the extent required and have given it away to the charity shop without finishing.

I see that the author is a lawyer at a Magic Circle firm. As a doctor, I wouldn’t attempt to write a pithy legal thriller and publish it without any input from someone who knows how that environment works. I’m astounded such an aggressively advertised release (you don’t get your book displayed at the entrance of Waterstones and stocked in Tesco as a debut novelist readily) wasn’t much better researched and edited. A real waste of an interesting idea.
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,860 reviews1,374 followers
April 29, 2021
Dr Amanda MacLean in a Glasgow hospital treats a male patient presenting with flu whose body suddenly shuts down. She investigates and realises patient zero came in from Bute a few days earlier .... this starts The Plague of 2025 which only kills men. The story is told via multiple points of view worldwide.

Yes, it���s another pandemic novel and a debut! I really like the format of the book, although there are a lot of characters it clearly shows the dramatic escalation into fear and chaos that this pandemic brings across the continents. This is a four horseman of the apocalypse, epically biblical crisis in scale with the first half showing the horrifying stages of the pandemic and the second depicting the fallout and survival via a vaccine. There are some very good characters especially Amanda who is dogged and intuitive and I also have a particular liking for Dawn, the sixty something civil servant working in British Intelligence whose wry humour is a welcome relief. The novel is extremely well written and the style engaging. It clearly shows the devastating and overwhelming pain and sadness of loss, it’s moving and poignant as it humanises the victims otherwise it’s numbers of such enormity your brain cannot compute. Some characters are very reflective especially on life pre-pandemic which is heartbreaking. The impact worldwide is interesting as woman have to fill roles from refuse collectors to soldiers to world leaders. Especially thought provoking is the drastic action some countries take to protect male babies and how sperm is allocated to ensure the populations future. I like the end as it reinforces the importance of love and remembrance and putting a face to those that are gone but not forgotten.

Overall, yes, this is a devil rides out scenario but it’s also very intriguing, extremely well written and does make you reflect on what’s important as we go through this pandemic.

With thanks to Harper Collins UK/Harper Fiction for the arc for an honest review.
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
604 reviews5,295 followers
September 2, 2022
This had me feeling ✨e m o t i o n s✨
Literally tearing up at every chapter.
I was blown away by the scope of this story. This author wrote this BEFORE the pandemic and somehow managed to encapsulate it perfectly while adding on a more harrowing twist.

I found myself tearing up at so many parts of this book. It kept pace so well and kept the action moving while also bringing in so much grief and desperation.

I loved the scientific look at how the world is set up for men and how women suffer by this. The size of smart phones to fit a man's hand and be overpowered by a women's. The uniforms for police, firefighter and EMT's to be designed for men and women just have to wear the smallest option and often end up dying from not having the protection they deserve. The standard heart attack symptoms only providing examples of male symptoms. So women end up dying because medical professionals are not equipped with recognizing the symptoms in time. Seat belts and air bags and so much more being designated to protect men over women is just the tip of the iceberg in this book and I loved every second of it.

*****************************

Immediately rereading to annotate cause I loved this so much more than I anticipated.
Profile Image for Mina.
239 reviews135 followers
May 1, 2021
I mean couldn't we have gotten this pandemic instead of Covid-19?? JK OOP😅
Top tier Ms Sweeney!!! Great Debut! 4 Stars to you for effectively doing what the movement has been trying to do for years- BRINGING DOWN THE PATRIARCHY!!

I have no idea where to begin with this incredibly well written book. A book that griped me by its title alone when I first heard of it and later captivated from the minute I started it.

When I first read the blurb of The End of Men I was intrigued! I mean who wouldn't be? Imagine a world completely free of 'The Other Gender' Wow. Reminds me of a time when a similar question was posed on Twitter- ''Imagine for 24hrs there were no men in the world, what would/could you do with your day?'' and ladies went wild with responses.
-Go running at night without fear of creeps
-Stop living in fear
-Walk around naked (This was a pretty common response, still a misdemeanor ladies lol)
-Dance freely at the club
-Finish sentences!!!!!!!
-Get promoted (Maybe not in a day, but I got the gist of it)
The list was honestly endless and I related to all of them... Because let's face it, we live in a Man's world no matter how many strides we make in our plight of equality.

‘The world is closing down’

Sounds familiar? Covid19 anybody, I remember being holed up in my studio wishing desperately that I could be back home in Kenya with my family. I had this anxiety of dying alone and no one would find my body until it was too late. I used to facetime my mom before I go to bed and make her watch me sleep just because I wanted her presence with me. (Weird I know...!!)

‘I have never felt so powerful. This must be what men used to feel like. My mere physical presence is enough to terrify someone into running. No wonder they used to get drunk on it.’

Who run the world?? Girls!! I'm not gonna lie the feminist aspect to this fictional pandemic was appealing. I'm not going to apologize for that, I mean it sucks that all their sons, husbands/boyfriends, dads and male friends died but WOW, finally they were at the top of the food chain, calling the shots! Hells YEAH!!!! I'd say finally the universe snapped and decided to cleanse itself.. THE PATRIARCHY HAS FALLEN!! 🙊🙊

'Turns out, one of the best way to fulfil the career dreams of your 25yr old self barely dared to imagine is to be a woman during the plague'

We saw women train to get drafted in the army, women in politics coming up with policies that we only ever dream of being effected, women who previously were deemed incapable taking up multiple jobs performed by men and doing it competently and even better! Back to the real world though, I know I will have to work 100x harder to prove myself worthy of that dream job and even if I do get it, I'm going to take home probably 30% less compared to my male counterpart in a similar position.

I breezed through this one honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed it though it sort of had a lag in the middle due to the very many characters POVs. I would have wished for the author to stick to just a couple of the key characters that I formed some semblance of attachment to like Catherine, Amanda, Dawn and Elizabeth. But hey, I seriously have zero complaints.
Though my MVP was Frances, talk about loving someone so truly and fiercely you would go to the ends of the earth to ensure their survival.

Also how amazing is it that the author came up with the concept and the draft for this book in 2018 and then boom! Were hit with a goddamned pandemic, I would've the freaked the fuck out beloveds!

I can't wait to read more of Ms Sweeney-Baird's books!
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.5k followers
March 21, 2022
3.5 stars
This was so good!!! Really great pandemic book, hard to believe this was written before covid. I think it had too many characters for me to really connect with any of them, but I really enjoyed the thought provoking discussion in this book about what a world would look like without men.

I read this for a sci-fi reading vlog, which you can see here: https://youtu.be/uQL4pr2Z5Ac
Profile Image for Audrey H. (audreyapproved).
601 reviews80 followers
May 29, 2021
Sweeny-Baird has tried to paint a world where a male-specific Plague has ravaged the world, killing ~90% of the male population. Sounds interesting; I wasn’t sure if this was going to be more social commentary or thriller, and turns out it does neither because it's so bad.

There’s are sooooooo many places you could go with this plot line, and unfortunately the author has decided to focus on multiple middle aged, highly educated women with children that spend the entire book pining about their dead sons and husbands. Bechel test, who? What about women that don’t live in the UK, USA or Canada (there’s one Russian and two Malay chapters out of ~seventy chapters; the majority of the rest are middle aged white women). Does South America or Africa or the rest of Asia even exist? What about the viewpoint of female children, what about poorer families, what about a POV from a world leader? Why is China the only country to have a civil war and not any other country? What happens to the economy with men dying? How does faith and religion change? Do societies come together or fracture? What happens to people in the middle of school? What happens to the environment? I’d have liked chapters from the POV of dying men. Why do I have to listen to a few women wax poetic about their young sons and perfect, loving, sweet, generous, gorgeous, strong, daring husbands for 400 pages? If a character study was the goal, then the author should have stuck with a single POV narrator and not switched between ~20 characters with such short chapters.

There were also many smaller things that didn’t add up to me, and added to the reading frustration.
- In the second chapter an ER doctor realizes she has a plague on her hands after eight patients. Seems quick to assume.
- A Canadian virologist professor (top of her field; ends up making the vaccine) doesn’t hear about the Plague until 5k men have died in the UK. Don’t you think she would have heard about it earlier? The author also paints this character ridiculously. When she discovers the vaccine, she says “Yes, I am in fact a God.” I rolled my eyes.
- A newspaper article in one of the chapters claims that most of America doesn’t know what’s happening in the UK even though, by that point, 100,000 men have died. In our news culture? Really? CNN would have been on it after 20 deaths.
- NOBODY wants to figure out the source of the Plague. Isn’t that what news sources and doctors and virologists would all want to know? Guess not. Only one person thinks to look for the source, and only after more than a year into the outbreak.
- I don’t think the author has done any sort of scientific analysis. Her explanation for why the Plague only impacts men could have been a hypothesis an 8th grader came out with.
- There is only one chapter that talks about gender and sex. There is only one other chapter that features a gay relationship, and that’s because all the men are gone and she’s lonely.
- One UK woman goes out on a date to a restaurant with an immune man during the height of the pandemic. Further through the book, a government official talks about restaurants are closed and how the UK should open them so people could feel normal for a little bit. So….. which is it? There were multiple instances of these kinds of contradictions.

I’ve read close to 100 books so far in 2021 and this is the one of the worst. Top three least favorite, for sure.

I (regrettably) voluntarily obtained a digital version of this book free from Netgalley and Penguin Group in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews773 followers
March 27, 2021
Look how far we’ve come, I think to myself. Look how we have survived.

I’ve noticed a couple titles in the last year or so whose storylines centre the absence/nonexistence of men (e.g., Afterland, The Mercies). Naturally, I was very intrigued at such a premise.

The End of Men is my first foray into this trope. This novel chronicles the fictional events of 2025–2031 as a virulent pandemic sweeps across the world and decimates the male population. We follow over a dozen interweaving POVs, each illustrating how the world reels and comes to terms in all its realms—in love, economics, politics, medicine; we watch as this world rebuilds.

I thought it would be draining to read a book about a pandemic, but the opposite actually occurred—I got a glimpse into an even more terrifying, dystopic reality. I was able to say, “Things are bad right now, but at least they’re not this bad.” This being the Male Plague, with its 90% mortality rate, its ability to stay alive on surfaces for 36+ hours, its rapid spread (1.8x that of HIV).


Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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The best word I have for this book is scattered. It’s a quality that both enhances and detracts from the novel.

How do the scattered POVs detract from the story?

The End of Men switches dizzyingly between more than a dozen characters’ POVs. For most of the book, each character’s voice felt vaguely the same; it became difficult to keep track of who was who, where, doing what. I took to actually writing down characters’ names and defining features to differentiate between them.

Unexpectedly though, as the book progressed and the individual storylines interwove—with a recurrent focus on Amanda’s and Catherine’s plots—I found myself appreciating the diversity of perspectives. I liked how they eventually dovetailed and allowed the reader to track disparate experiences of the Male Plague.

Catherine is a social anthropologist who grapples with infertility both before and after the onset of the pandemic; as she mourns her loving husband and young son, she sets out to record stories of the Plague. Amanda is an A&E doctor in Glasgow (in the Independent Republic of Scotland) who discovers the Plague’s existence—and is gaslit for trying to alert the world to its devastation. Lisa is a professor of virology at the University of Toronto and eventual creator of the long-awaited, life-changing vaccine—only, she has decided to monetize its release. Elizabeth is a junior CDC virologist who travels to London to help with vaccine development; to her surprise, she finds love in a world that seems devoid of it. Dawn works at the British Intelligence Services, one of the few Black women employed; she moves her way up the ranks, and through her POV we see the economic and political impacts of the Plague. There’s also Rosamie, a Filipina nanny for a wealthy Singaporean nanny; Toby, a 60yo English man who becomes stranded on a cruise ship off Iceland; Morven, a Scottish woman who runs a hostel that is forced to take in dozens of orphaned boys; and many more.

Sound confusing? Not gonna lie, it was.

How do the scattered POVs enhance the story?

At the same time, I found it fascinating to see the distinct ways in which the Plague, the loss of 90% of all men, reshaped the world. This was made possible by the panoply of POVs.

There is a scramble to rebuild the workforce, especially in professions formerly dominated by men; women find themselves at the helm of garbage collecting, electrical repair, army service, policy-making, global leadership. Elections are dominated by women; Canada has its first (full-term) female prime minister.

There is immense political upheaval. For example, China has dissolved into twelve democratic states because the male-dominated army and Communist Party was ravaged, allowing rebel parties to take charge of governance.

There are difficult decisions to be made about childbearing—for example, how to best protect male infants from viral exposure? New Zealand decides that, for the safety of he newborn boys, they will non-consensually remove babies from their mothers.

The Plague also necessarily has ramifications for romance and sexuality, including the smash-hit success of a dating app exclusively for women meeting women; many women deciding not to date; the devastation to queer communities, gay and trans folk especially.


◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️

The last thing I’ll mention about this book is that I didn’t really jibe with the writing style. The prose in this book isn’t particularly artful or eloquent, rather favouring sentences that are curt and clipped and overly to-the-point.

As its name implies, there isn’t much subtlety in The End of Men—not the prose, not the premise. At times I was left with the distinct impression that the brevity of the sentences did not fit the scale of tragedy they described.

Other times I had to suppress a laugh at the absurdity. Take this description of a fictional and devastating riot at the San Francisco airport, for example:
My colleague Andrew arrives and shoots the second shooter in the arm. I get ahold of myself, get off the floor and shoot the first shooter in the shoulder. At the same time, Andrew shoots him in the head.

The full passage uses “shoot” (or some related word like “shooter”) thirteen times. The effect is ABSURD. There is none of the horror, the calamity, that should accompany sniper activity at the airport. Instead, I wanted to laugh. I shoot the shooter. You shoot the shooter. The shooter shoots.

The book also features several news articles penned by a character by the name of Maria Ferreira. She’s described as the Washington Post’s former science editor, a woman who was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize—and yet her writing made me cringe; it’s devoid of lyricism, eloquence, impact.

The writing in these news articles was so simple, so heavy-handed, as to feel immature. (It doesn’t help that I’ve just finished a phenom book by Lulu Miller, a science writer for NPR, whose quick turns of phrase and clever, vivid prose put The End of Men to shame. Not really a great comparison.)


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BOTTOM LINE: I wasn’t particularly impressed with the prose (or science) in The End of Men, but if you can acclimate to the dizzying swirl of character POVs, you’ll be rewarded with an interesting exploration into a post-pandemic world without men.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,461 reviews184 followers
June 2, 2021
4.5 rounded up to 5

CW:

Well I am shooketh!

I enjoyed this one so much and found it 'unputdownable' and so absorbing! I was really invested in what was happening despite the story jumping from POV to POV so frequently. I absolutely loved that it looked at what might happen if there was a situation where the current global gender balance changed. A fascinating take on how we as a society would evolve under these circumstances. This most definitely would only be appropriate for NZ Y12 experienced Readers and above. I will be thinking about this one for ages!
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,421 reviews540 followers
April 17, 2021
I want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this amazing book of speculative fiction. Its author wrote this brilliant, thought-provoking debut in pre-COVID days during 2018 and 2019 from a vivid imagination and research. Little did she know that by the time her book was ready for publication, that we would be experiencing a true pandemic of death, hospitalizations, lockdowns, distancing and mask-wearing. At the time of writing my review, Canada is undergoing the worst spike in cases since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, with new fearsome variations becoming widespread. Since we have to import all vaccines, there is a slow rollout and locally up to 4 months wait for a second vaccine. It was ironic that in the book, the first vaccine was invented by a female scientist in Canada wanting great wealth and glory from selling her vaccine to the government and then worldwide.

The events and emotions the author describes in this book seem very believable and frightening. I can't speak for the science involved that is well explained for the reader. With the rapidly mutating and increasing variations of concern, I had to wonder if a gender-specific strain could be possible.

The author speaks of a near-future time in 2025 when a lethal disease starts in the Republic of Scotland and is deadly only for men and boys. Everyone becomes a carrier, and it spreads rapidly to other nations and continents with devastating results. Only about 10% of males are immune. For the others, death rapidly follows the infection. Dr. Amanda MacLean, working in a hospital in Glasgow, futility treats the first patient (Patient Zero) and soon realizes other men are exhibiting the same symptoms. She reports her belief that she has witnessed the beginning of a plague, but her concerns are dismissed as hysteria and ignored.
As death and chaos spread globally, we are taken on a journey into the hearts and minds of various individuals worldwide as they cope with profound loss and grief, the necessity of restoring some social order, and the difficulty of rapidly producing an effective vaccine. The resulting loss of men and boys profoundly affects women and girls left behind and on society and nations. It challenges ethics, morality, fertility issues, and the meaning of family. Women now are needed to fill mens' jobs in government, manual labour, technology, the military, medical and scientific fields, etc.

There are experiments to seize baby boys at birth and isolate them in hopes they can be saved, and older boys not yet displaying symptoms are placed in remote areas to survive the pandemic. Women wanting to bear a child have been told they are to be chosen by lottery for artificial medical insemination, but many hopes are dashed. It is a lie, as the government is actually determining their selection by socio-economic status, age, and health and not by chance. The scarcity of men leads to an online dating site for women to meet other women. Food is rationed, and there are arguments about whether junk food and sweets be included for the comfort they bring.

After the vaccine is introduced, people can once again travel when their country is 99.9% vaccinated, and their destination is the same number vaccinated. Many countries do not meet this qualification. China has fractured into several different states, many democratic and run by women. Terrorist organizations no longer inspire fear since the male terrorists are gone.

I did find this a slow read because it was told from the experiences and emotions of numerous people across the planet. I thought this slowed down the narrative and detracted somewhat from the flow of the story. I can understand the reason for this, but it made the plot feel disjointed. I wondered if the narrative concentrated on several key characters, it would be a shorter, smoother read. It might have increased my emotional involvement and made it feel that it progressed at a faster pace. Nevertheless, this was a stunning, thought-provoking novel, and I hope we never experience anything like this in real life. It is a book I will long remember. The author has written an amazing first book, and I hope that she writes more novels, and I would definitely read them.
3.5 stars raised to 4.
Profile Image for Blaine.
712 reviews574 followers
December 13, 2022
“Do you think they’ll be remembered, our sons and husbands? Or will they just … disappear?”

“I think we’ll remember them, and talk about them and tell their stories. We’ll know we loved them and were loved by them. That will be enough.” She pauses. “You know, the world doesn’t have to remember you for you to matter. We were loved by those we loved. Not everyone can say that,” she tells me softly.

“No, I don’t suppose they can.”

In November of 2025, there’s a viral outbreak in Glasgow, Scotland. It seems flulike, and it infects both men and women, but it is somehow harmless to women while it kills almost every man who catches it. By the time the world understands what’s happening, it’s much too late. The Plague sweeps the planet and kills about 90% of all men. The End of Men tells the story of this imagined plague and the first five years of its aftermath.

Story, part 1
The End of Men is certainly influenced by two other novels, World War Z and The Power. All three have the same first-person, oral history-style of storytelling, with multiple narrators located around the world telling their own pieces of the larger story. World War Z has dozens of narrators, so the reader never gets very emotionally invested in any one of them, but the book is about the storyline more than feelings so the large cast works. The Power only has about six narrators so the reader gets emotionally invested in all of them, and again it works. The End of Men is in large part about the emotional reactions of the women who are losing nearly all the men in their lives. But there are 17 different narrators, which makes it hard to form much attachment to any of them (other than Catherine and Lisa, and one of them is villainous). That seems to be a problem when connecting with the characters’ emotional trauma is a major aspect of the story.

Science
The Plague in The End of Men is a means to an end: imagining the contours of a future world in which almost all of the men essentially vanish and women are left to rebuild in the aftermath. The book isn’t really about the science of it all, which would be fine, but then the book tried to explain a scientific basis for what’s happening, and it’s a bit of a mess. First, it doesn’t make much sense that having one X chromosome would give you a 10% chance of immunity while having two X chromosomes would give you a 100% chance of immunity. But much worse is the idea expressly stated in the book that “10% of the world’s men can produce 10% of the number of babies they previously did.” Ummm, no. 10% of the world’s men could produce 100% (or even more) of the number of babies they previously did if the surviving women either let them—or forced them—to do so.

Story, part 2
And that seemingly small misstatement crystallized my bigger problem with The End of Men: it lacks real imagination and bite. Almost all the narrators here are white, Western women in Western countries that all take a similar approach to the Plague: live through the horror, ration resources, place women in the jobs needed to rebuild the economy, and generally try to return life to as close-to-normal as possible. There’s little mention of most of the world (not a single word about India, South America, or Africa). But the fragments we do hear left me wanting more: Moldova imprisoned all the men as retribution for sex trafficking? The royal family fled Saudi Arabia? Both which would have been fascinating to see firsthand rather than hear about secondhand and in passing.

Five years into The End of Men, the changes to society are everywhere but surprisingly small. The governments largely operate the same and the economies operate the same. They just give higher priority to things like women-focused dating apps, lower seat belts, and different medical testing in this new world where the default is now female. But is nibbling at the margins really all women would do if they were thrust into control and men were nearly extinct? Every country would just set up lotteries for women who want to get pregnant, with low odds, sorry-about-your-luck? No women-led country would decide to just force men to impregnate (directly or as sperm donors) every willing woman in order to repopulate? The Power imagines a world in which women get physical power over men and it’s not pretty for the men. For a book that kills off 45% of the population and 90% of men, The End of Men is oddly optimistic about how chill and relaxed the surviving women would be in the aftermath.
Profile Image for Indieflower.
313 reviews89 followers
June 20, 2021
A global pandemic occurs, and though women are carriers, only males are affected, 90% of whom die. I'm disappointed with this one, I was hoping for so much more. I felt the characters - in fact the entire story - lacked depth, there were so many narrators that all sounded too similar - mostly white, middle class women, married to unbelievably saintly men - I found I was constantly flipping back to check who was who. It was all very simplistic, practical problems were barely mentioned, people just seemed to be tootling on as normal. Considering more than 50% of the workforce is male, there would initially have been really serious problems but very few of these were mentioned, only refuse collection and a shortage of tea and coffee, everything else seemed hunky dory 😕. Not to mention the superwoman A&E doctor who not only diagnosed a pandemic about 5 minutes after it began, but single handedly tracked down the original source of the infection, because seemingly no one else could be arsed 🤔. Most of it didn't make proper sense, maybe I could've rolled with it if I'd felt emotionally connected to any of these women, but I didn't, in fact a few I could've cheerfully slapped. I was interested enough to finish it but with hindsight I probably shouldn't have bothered.
Profile Image for Ash.
122 reviews135 followers
December 31, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Even though this wasn’t one of the best books I’ve read this year, it was a really good book for me to read right now. This year has pulled me in and out of reading slumps a few times and a fast, easy, engaging read like The End of Men was exactly what I needed. Although it might seem counterintuitive that a book about a fictional global pandemic would perk me up during an actual global pandemic, strangely enough, that’s exactly what happened.

The End of Men invites comparison to two of my favorite apocalyptic novels, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and World War Z, both of which I read (or reread) this year, so they were fresh in my mind reading this one. From its blurb, The End of Men seems like it will be Unnamed Midwife in reverse: Instead of a plague that kills women and children, it tells the story of a plague that kills only men. And its multiple first-person narratives immediately reminded me of World War Z. These comparisons were probably what doomed this book to a middling three-star rating for me; it just couldn’t compete.

Unnamed Midwife’s greatest strength is its protagonist. By comparison, The End of Men features many different point-of-view characters, most of them women, a few of whom are more central than the rest. Most were good, memorable characters, but no single character was the sole focus of the book and so I lacked that strong connection. I also didn’t feel like The End of Men’s exploration of feminist issues was nearly as well done as Unnamed Midwife.

On the other hand, World War Z has just as many characters as The End of Men, but instead of having their stories chopped up into many short chapters, as in The End of Men, most were told all at once in what read like a collection of connected short stories. Additionally, the different stories in World War Z represented the most exciting, most emotional, or most memorable part of each character’s experience, whereas most of the chapters in The End of Men read like slices of life during a pandemic, although there were some exceptions.

This book would have had more potential as a four- or five-star read if Christina Sweeney-Baird had focused on the one or two characters with the strongest narratives, which in my opinion are Catherine and Amanda. Their stories were more emotional and introspective – Catherine’s brought me to tears – and told two very different perspectives, one of an ordinary woman who is profoundly affected by the Plague and the other of a doctor who was there when the Plague began.

My final complaint, a more minor problem that nonetheless took me right out of the story, is with the fictional news articles Sweeney-Baird scatters throughout the novel. If you need any proof that there’s a big difference between writing fiction and writing the news, look no further. Sweeney-Baird wrote an engaging and enjoyable novel here, but she doesn’t know how to write a news article. The ones she included weren’t at all realistic, even to someone like me with no background in journalism. (I also don’t think some of the science and medicine in this book was very accurate but I am even less qualified to talk about that.)

Despite all my criticisms and unfavorable comparisons, I wouldn’t call this a bad book. It was fast-paced, although the ending did drag on a bit, and tough to put down. And there were shining moments even outside Catherine and Amanda’s chapters. There were some especially memorable minor characters: Morven, a Scottish former hostel owner; Rosamie, a Filipino nanny; Helen, a mother of three girls; and Lisa, a virology professor. The parts about governments figuring out ways to cope with the effects of the Plague were really interesting to me. If you’re considering reading this one, I say give it a shot.
Profile Image for Erin Clemence.
1,007 reviews298 followers
April 20, 2021
Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication date: April 27, 2021

Christina Sweeney-Baird’s novel, “The End of Men” had me completely riveted. To discover it was a DEBUT novel? Colour me impressed.

In 2025, a mysterious plague-like illness is spreading across the globe; it seems to only affect males and very soon, sons, husbands and fathers are dying off. As the world of science scrambles to find a vaccine, the rest of the world waits on bated breath, while trying to put together some semblance of “normal” in a world that is completely different from the one before it.

“The End of Men” is part (reverse)The Handmaid's Tale”, part “Contagion” and obviously, completely relevant. It is a thought-provoking novel that hits close to home in every way. Sweeney-Baird’s novel has already been optioned for a movie, and there is absolutely no questioning why.

“Men” is not solely a story with feminist themes (although obviously they do arise) , it is a story full of loss and grief, desperation, and the human condition (both the positive and negative aspects of it) . There is no one who will read this novel, especially in these times, and not have a deep connection and emotional reaction. I found the race for the vaccines (and the self-serving quest to profit from it) to be both eerie and informative.

In most disaster novels or end-of-the-world dramas, especially in movies, the story is centred in the United States, and many other countries either get occasionally mentioned or ignored completely. As a Canadian, I was impressed to see the relevant role that my countrymen (countrywoman actually) played in Sweeney-Baird’s novel (although I apologize, of course, because she was completely unlikable), so props to the author for recognizing the global effect of a pandemic, sans the Hollywood interference.

“Men” is completely page-turning, and the ending provides the bittersweet resolution I expected. Although the subject matter is dismal and grim (so are the times we are living in, am I right?) Sweeney-Baird manages to bring a little bit of levity and hope.

“Perhaps recovery is too great a goal. We can never regain what we have lost and we must accept that, mourn that, grieve what cannot be and find a new way to exist”.

Sweeney-Baird says that she started this novel in 2018, pre-pandemic, and its realism is so startling and shocking, I may consider believing in fortune-telling and psychic abilities. The only thing I’m sure of is I want more from Sweeney-Baird. Hands down, the best debut novel I’ve read in a long time, and one of my all-time faves already from this year!
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,718 reviews1,157 followers
April 29, 2021
Published today 29-4-21

As the author says in the Author’s Note that introduces this prescient novel (written in 2018-19) “I know you’re meant to live your truth through art and everything, but contracting Coronavirus was a step towards authenticity I could have done without”

The novel starts in late 2025 – a Scottish based A&E Consultant Amanda suddenly comes to the horrifying realisation that some form of highly fatal and highly deadly contagious infection (starting with “Patient Zero” from the Isle of Bute) is sweeping through those the patients (but only the male) patients visiting her hospital. Her rather panicked emails to the Scottish Health authorities are dismissed as an overreaction to a run of flu and sepsis cases. Only 5 days later the disease is being seen as “The Plague” even in London – and after 10+ days it has already killed 5000+ in England and quickly begins to sweep the world as any travel restrictions are imposed far too late.

The plague affects only men – but with them its effects are terrible: 91% fatality rates after only a few days of infection (regardless of their age or ethnicity) and with a huge infection rate, made much worse by women being not just asymptomatic carriers (but being infected extremely easily and then carrying the infection seemingly indefinitely). Studying viral pandemics one of the limiting factors on them is normally the trade-off between infectivity and fatality (in simple terms a virus that kills or even severely incapacitates its hosts is destroying its transmission vectors) – and the role of women here overcomes that trade off.

Efforts both to trace the cause of the male/female divide and to understand how the disease works and so develop a vaccine take time, by which point the world is effectively denuded of 90% of its men. Societal impacts are huge – women have to largely resign themselves to losing fathers, husbands, colleagues and sons and men to an almost inevitable death. Many previously male dominated jobs and areas (from refuse collection to science to politics) have to be rapidly re-imagined or restocked with a draft system on the female population. Different societies react in different ways to the need to produce and raise male children both before and after a vaccine is developed (including IVF lotteries – or effectively point scoring choices, compulsory C-sections and forced seizure of babies – boys left to see if they die, the remaining ones then taken away to safety, mandatory child rearing pools). Sexuality changes (same sex dating apps for women, convulsions to the Transgender community as differences become faultlines). And politically countries are changed – Scotland (in a rather nice Brexit analogy) picks seemingly the worse time for independence, but unlike in Brexit reaps catastrophic vaccine access results, Canada develops and aggressively licenses the only available vaccine and rapidly becomes a world power and the fall of the male dominated Communist Party leads to a series of convulsions in China which eventually breaks into 12 independent states.

At times the book cannot I think make up its mind if society has undergone complete breakdown or is carrying on as largely as normal as possible (albeit with a terrible sense of loss) and I am unsure, in either event, that nuclear families with an immune husband and immune sons or daughters would be able to carry on quite so obliviously to the pain of others (or without society forcing for example mass sperm donation or some form of surrogacy).

The book is written in a series of first party point of view accounts by a group of characters that include: Amanda (who remains an activist for the disease – both uncovering the slow actions that lead to its spread and tracing its origins to the smuggling of animals); Catherine – a Social Anthropologist (who partly serves the book as an example of a wife and mother of a son having to deal with the Plague and then as a documenter of the impact on other); a young American virologist who comes to the UK and ends up hugely influential; a near retirement black female and hitherto marginalised UK intelligence officer who rapidly rises through the ranks; an essay style journalist at the Washington Post who documents some of the key developments and personalities of the new era; the hugely ambitious Canadian researcher who develops the Vaccine and then demands both extreme monetary reward and recognition for making it available.

Unfortunately this is not a book where it is best to dwell on either the science or on the scientific abilities of the book’s participants. The male/female divide is critical to the virus’s success and of course to the very title of the book – but its mechanism rests on a rather shaky understanding of how X-Y chromosomes operate (the book’s explanation of the 91% fatality rate in men would lead I think to 83% fatality in women – not the 0% the book argues) – it is also odd that it takes 50+ days for someone to make the Y-chromosome link as a cause. It seems shall we say more than odd that hospitals cannot identify the sex of a baby until after its born (given how crucial it is) and equally so that a vaccine that is “only” 96% effective against a disease with 90% fatality is sent back for further trials.

And this probably gets to one of the more interesting parts of this book – its topicality will of course ensure high publicity and sales but will also mean that readers will come to it with a far more informed and critical eye than would otherwise have been the case.

But overall an interesting read which I am sure will draw a wide audience – and far from being depressing in the current time will I think make people think how much worse things could have been.

My thanks to Harper Collins UK for an ARC via Net Galley
Profile Image for Hayley (Shelflyfe).
279 reviews6 followers
May 3, 2021
Today is my spot on the blogtour for 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐞𝐧 by Christina Sweeney-Baird. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for having me along, and to Borough Press for sending me a copy of the book.
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𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐛𝐚𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐠𝐮𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞? 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐢𝐞? 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐡��� 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐛𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞? 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭, 𝐢𝐟 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐝𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐰? 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐟𝐞? 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐮𝐬?
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This is a difficult review for me to write, as there are things that I feel I need to call out, that perhaps weren't considered when this book was written, and I hope that these comments are taken in the spirit that they are intended - i.e. not in a negative accusatory way, but more as a learning opportunity.
The main focus of these comments relates to the LGBTQIA+ community, and their lack of actual representation throughout (some spoilers ahead).
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𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐫𝐮𝐬.
𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐮𝐬.
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I'm going to start with the things that I think were done well in the book.
Firstly, I think there are a lot of statistics and genuine facts and figures highlighted throughout the novel, that do draw attention to how women are under-represented in numerous areas of society; whether in certain job roles and industries, or in relation to being genuinely considered in safety testing, health services, and clothing manufacturing.
I think these do highlight some of the current areas where things do need to change in real life, and hopefully this will open people's eyes to changes that genuinely need to take place.
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𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 - 𝐧𝐨, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭'𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫 - 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐢𝐫𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐱. 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲'𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 '𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐧 𝐟𝐞𝐰' 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲'𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐝𝐬.
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I also liked how Sweeney-Baird flipped the current experiences that women have to endure pre 'the Plague' (and in real life) to experiences that the surviving men have to endure post 'the Plague'.
Some of the portrayals of these societal changes were quite illuminating, and they do make the reader question how these dynamics might really play out.
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𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥𝐬 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐭 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞-𝐮𝐩 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐟𝐟. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐨, 𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐫𝐭, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐰. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞'𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐬𝐨 𝐢𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐰𝐞'𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬.
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I also thought the structure of the book worked well. Sweeney-Baird separated the story into before, during, and after the Plague.
There were a lot of character perspectives throughout the story, so this did help to maintain structure and to clearly portray the evolving response to the virus.
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𝐖𝐞'𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐰𝐢𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐬, 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 '𝐰𝐢𝐝𝐨𝐰' 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐰. 𝐈𝐭'𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐮𝐧𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞. 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫. 𝐈𝐟 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮'𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥.
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When I read the premise of the book, I thought it sounded like such an interesting subject, especially given my viewpoint as a woman and a feminist.
What would happen if there were a mysterious illness sweeping the globe - no longer too difficult to imagine given the coronavirus outbreak - and how would life change if the victims were all men?
I did wonder from the beginning how the virus/illness would determine someone to be a 'man' - after all, gender is not binary; it is a spectrum:
(1) If the virus focussed on sexual reproductive organs, then it cannot be binary and solely focus on 'men', as intersex people exist;
(2) If the virus focussed on the amount of hormones present within an individual's body, then it cannot be binary and solely focus on 'men', as plenty of people of other genders have a high level of testosterone;
(3) If the virus focussed on chromosomes, then it cannot be binary and solely focus on 'men' as there are numerous variations to the XX and XY chromosome.
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𝐎𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘 𝐜𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐲-𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐗𝐗, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐗𝐘. 𝐘 𝐝𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐦 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐫. 𝐈𝐧 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬, 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐗𝐗, 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐬, 𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐜𝐜𝐮𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘 𝐜𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞, 𝐢𝐭 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 ... 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐗𝐗 𝐜𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐟𝐞. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐞𝐧, 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐯𝐮𝐥𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐫𝐮𝐬.
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The explanation for the virus' focus on 'men' was provided just shy of halfway through the book, where the author detailed that the biologists and immunologists identified it was a genetic identifier based on chromosomes, and that if you had an XY (i.e. 'male') pair you would contract the virus and likely die, whereas if you had an XX (i.e. 'female') pair you would be a carrier, but not experience symptoms or die from the virus.
Given the biological explanation provided here, this would have been the perfect opportunity for the author to have acknowledged the intersex, trans, and non-binary communities that are not captured under this brief explanation, and also to acknowledge the fact that numerous individuals are born with chromosome variations that are broader than XX or XY. (For example: XXY - Klinefelter syndrome; XYY - Jacob's syndrome; XXX - Triple X; XXXX - Tetrasomy X; XXXY; XXXXY, and; XXXXX - Pentasomy X).
Not everyone has 46 chromosomes. Some people have 47, 48, or even 49 chromosomes, but this was in no way acknowledged throughout the book.
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'𝐋𝐞𝐭'𝐬 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐬,' 𝐓𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐚 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐬. '𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭 ... 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐠𝐮𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐞𝐱 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐟𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐭 ... 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 - 𝐲𝐨𝐮'𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐲 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐢𝐞. 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 - 𝐲𝐨𝐮'𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞 ... 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐗𝐘 𝐜𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬.'
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The single reference to the existence of the trans community was not mentioned until close to the end, and this reference still only focussed on binary gender, referring to transwomen as XY and transmen as XX.
While elements of the gender norms 𝘢𝘳𝘦 based on societal expectations, it does a huge disservice to the intersex, non-binary, and trans communities to focus on binary gender as the only option here - gender is a spectrum both societally and physiologically.
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𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐏𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫'𝐬 𝐠𝐚𝐳𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐏𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐋𝐢𝐛𝐛𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞. 𝐇𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐮𝐬𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟔 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐔𝐒 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐦 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝.
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(Cont'd in comments)
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,811 reviews348 followers
March 3, 2022
Who would have thought that a book about a pandemic would be kind of comforting during a pandemic. Some of that effect is a result of the fictional Plague being much, much worse than Covid-19. It's a virus that only affects men, almost always resulting in death. Think of all the professions that are predominantly male: pilots, police, firefighters, soldiers, politicians. To a lesser extent doctors, dentists, other healthcare professionals. Societal paralysis results.

The female doctor who discovers Patient Zero struggles to get any of the men in charge to pay attention. There's the typical line, “It's only the flu.” Where have we heard that before? The author uses so many details from our years of Covid to great effect, making this story feel familiar and more believable. She uses short, staccato chapters to convey the panic and desperation of the people living through the disaster. Indeed, if the chapters had been longer or more detailed, my poor pandemic tired brain probably would have refused to let me continue. My concentration is shot to hell. (I've been hiding in genre fiction, unable to face nonfiction or literary fiction.) A passage of the book addresses this difficulty: ”I tried to read a romance novel a few days ago, thinking it might help. I managed two paragraphs before I slammed it shut, repulsed by the cheery tone. Now, it's comforting to read about mysteries, death, terror, and the eventual resolution of justice. My brain's capacity for reading about good fortune of others, even if their happiness is fictional, is currently nonexistent."

It's a combination of two of my favourite fiction forms, the apocalyptic and the post-WWI and WW2 fiction. Rationing combined with training women to fill in all the empty jobs. I also think this novel would make a great book club selection, generating plenty of interesting discussion. Would things really turn out this way? Could we face another pandemic like this in the future? Lots to talk about!


Profile Image for Justine.
1,103 reviews294 followers
May 3, 2021
I haven't been keeping track of new releases with the same vigour as previously, but I did read an article (and of course now I don't remember where) about this book which caused me to pick it up. I've read quite a few books about what happens when one or the other gender becomes the majority in society, (e.g. The Power, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Afterland) usually with dire results for the minority but what set this one apart for me is that it is not a story where anger plays a defining role for all or most of the characters.

The End of Men documents through multiple first person POVs a viral pandemic which affects only men, and has a very low rate of survival or natural immunity. It definitely addresses many of the structural inequalities that favour men, but it is as much a book about grief and loss, about the necessity of change, and ultimately, about renewal. I liked the idea that happiness and fulfillment can be redefined, and the idea that at the very heart of it human beings are adaptable creatures. Since the world needs to be adapted to a population that is predominately female, there are of course going to be changes, and for many of us those changes would be welcome right now. In that way Sweeney-Baird shows us possibility.

The book has several different characters, and seeing how each of them processes and adapts to disaster, loss, and change was something I found incredibly engaging. The style of the book is reminiscent of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, using short chapters all written in the first person. That particular choice can be a difficult one as it requires the writer to have enough skill to give each character a unique voice. I thought it was done quite successfully here, and gives the story a close and personal feeling even with the large cast of characters.

What you get at the end is a compelling story, a grand thought experiment simplified and put into narrative form, made all the more intense coming out as it does in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has laid bare and obvious so many structural inequalities of all kinds.
Profile Image for Pauline.
722 reviews
January 26, 2021
In the year 2025 a virus emerges in a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland and it’s killing off the male population.
There is panic and a frenzy to find a vaccine. There is a few men who are immune and there is hope that this will help find a cure.
The author wrote this book in 2018 before our current COVID-19 pandemic and it was a frightening view of a possible future.
I live in Glasgow and I was amused to read that I could be living in The Independent Republic of Scotland in a few years time.
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rae (semi-hiatus).
398 reviews57 followers
November 25, 2022
3.5⭐️

I listened to this yesterday on my 12 hour drive. I tried to jot down my thoughts when I was able to ride passenger. Of course, it seems it’s easier to nitpick than it is to write about the good things, which I discovered when reading over my thoughts. I really did enjoy this and never got tired of this book once. Please listen to the audio!

I feel like I have more to say, but for now I will leave it at this.
Sorry y’all it’s a holiday and didn’t have the energy to write it in paragraph form, so a list it is lol!

What l loved:

- The audio was SO GOOD. I HIGHLY recommend listening to the book. There are a shit ton of characters y’all. Many from different regions, but there are narrators with different accents so they each gave the characters their own voice. (List at the bottom of review).
- How strong and powerful women were portrayed. How resilient and brave and emotional and that is what makes them great, successful.
- The writing was fantastic. I’m so surprised that this was a debut novel. Holy shit. The flow was smooth, the characters had depth, the story was thought-provoking, and just great. Solid.
- This was eerily similar to the pandemic we all lived/are living through. It’s wild that the author wrote this in 2018 with so much accuracy.
- The first half/three-fourths of the book was super emotional and got me teary-eyed a few times.
- There were some great stories that came from pretty crappy characters personalities (Shawn (Sean?)- I listened lol- in Helen’s chapters for example)
- This could be a positive or negative, depends on how you view it. The book very lightly touched on political, societal, and economical issues. It mainly focused on the mental: husbands and sons died, motherhood is no longer an option for many. Another reviewer (I can’t remember who wrote this) said it perfectly: This book is about what the world would be like without half the population. Not what the world would be like without men specifically. — I could tell the author was trying. This was a really heavy matter and I feel the book would’ve been way over 400 pages if she tried to go more in depth.

Some of my issues:

- LGBT+ people were an afterthought. Gay and transgender concerns were brought up at the very end as if the author was like oh shit! I forgot, lemme just add that in…there we go. It was rushed and meh. Gender was described as binary until it wasn’t? It contradicted itself. There was almost no diversity. The one black woman had the same voice as every other white woman. I think it was mentioned Dawn was black like twice and never again.
- Brings me to my next point: a few of these white, middle-class women can blur together. They have very similar “voices”/inner monologues and tragedies happen to them. There are repetitive thoughts about something from one character to the next (i.e not being able to see, hear, smell the virus when cleaning). I think the audio does help with this and that reading it would make this less enjoyable but it started grating on me near the end.
- The science and the legalities- suspend disbelief. A lot is incorrect if you have a basic knowledge of either (i.e: An A&E doc discovering the virus, patient zero and then tracking down the cause of the virus on her own, 38.8C not being feverish, MRSA being rare and untreatable, etc., Lisa owning 41% of shares when the public university funded everything, etc.)
- Catherine became unbearable to listen to after she returned from Devon. She felt like she was the only person in the world who experienced loss. She hated everyone else because no one could possibly know pain like she did. She experienced the worst of the worst, no one else did. Only she deserved the gift of fertility and a child. Ugh. I absolutely loved her the first half and then she became my least favorite character by the end.
- About the audio: the person who narrated Lisa was…not great. She never once changed her voice or inflection, so I had absolutely no idea when she was talking and when another character was supposed to be talking. Also, this character wasn’t very fleshed out and she was pretty shitty. Of course the lesbian character was an egomaniac and power-hungry. 😞
- I’m kinda glad I didn’t recommend this to my partner, who is Scottish, considering the tensions between the countries. This felt very anti-Scotland, pro-England (glorifying almost). I understand that the author is English, but woah.
- Why was there a civil war only in China? Although I really did like listening to the effects of war without men- how there’s a lot less killing. But no where else?
- Um. Did Africa and South America not exist? It felt very UK/Scotland-centric with a few returning American and Canadian characters thrown in. The Filipino character (who is in Singapore) and character in Iceland were both voiced by English narrators, making this feel even more like an isolated pandemic, which is an oxymoron lol. There were brief mentions of China, Sweden, Norway, Germany, maybe other countries? I can’t remember. If so, they were extremely minor. There was mention of Dutch mothers co-oping raising children (perfect opportunity to write about the many African nations with communities just like this imo).

Characters in each country:
5 England (36 chapters)
3 Scotland (14 chapters)
1 Iceland (3 chapters)
4 USA, counting all the articles as American voices (8 chapters)
1 Canada (7 chapters)
1 Singapore (3 chapters)
1 New Zealand (1 chapter)
1 Russia (1 chapter)
Gives a pretty good idea why it felt like we were missing a majority of the world’s view on a global pandemic.

I’ve been researching this for hours. Does anyone know where or how to find which narrator voiced which character? Why is this so hard to find lol
Profile Image for Dea.
468 reviews1 follower
June 4, 2021
I normally do not write lengthy reviews for books I do not finish, but I made through about half of this one, so I feel like I should explain why I threw in the towel. Plus it made me a bit irate, and that always inspires a lengthy rant.

The book started out fairly well, a sort of “World War Z” but with a deadly virus rather than a zombie one. There were chapters told from the POV of different women who occupied different parts of society, a stay at home mother, a doctor from the emergency department, a civil servant, a virologist from CDC, etc. I was super stoked to see society deal with the plague from those different perspectives.

Middle of the book is where I realized I was not going to get those different perspectives. Most of the events and internal emotional turmoil dealt with the protagonists' personal lives and not with the downfall of society. That turmoil and how the different characters dealt with it, was essentially the same from one woman to another. They all had wonderful husbands they loved and were taken from them too soon, they all had wonderful children they cried over. None of them had a husband they wanted dead. None of them breathed a sigh of relief because the burden of caring for a child in this new world was just too much. They were all cookie cutter nuclear family wives reacting to the events in the same manner as if programmed by a higher power. By the middle of the book there were only two chapters, but there may have been more, where women were glad to see men in their lives die, but those didn't take place in one of the civilized white European countries....

I think the breaking point for me was the XY chromosome discovery. I wasn't expecting this book to get into the weeds on how the science of virus detection works but I expected some basic adherence to how stuff works. Maybe at least some of the researchers not being complete idiots while they ran labs (?) and got results (?) that needed to be looked over (?). It was just so handwavy it was embarrassing.

There is one final disappointment I think is worth mentioning, this may have been fixed in the last half of the book and those who read it can correct me since I was not willing to sit through 200 more pages of this. The women who should be forced by circumstance to take on leading roles in all levels of society did not do so. They coasted along with events happening around them and occasionally got catty with one another. And maybe I am being too optimistic in expecting the women to pick up the reins and start driving trucks and running factories, since they totally don't already do that, the women are not even falling into the expectant roles of care-giving. While there is mention of sitting by the beds of the dying, there is very little mention of the actual care-taking. The gritty dirty reality of caring for the sick that women have been expected to do for ages.

This book would not have gotten as much attention if it wasn't for the pandemic rampaging around the world. I recommend no one waste their time on it.
Profile Image for Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*.
289 reviews115 followers
August 17, 2020
It's a Five Star Book of the Year for me!

It’s August 2020 and I’m sat on my sofa in the searing heat. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and I’ve attempted to read just 2 books in as many weeks and couldn’t finish either of them.

My concentration is at record rock bottom levels and I’m yearning for a book to take me away from this shitshow.

I thought I wanted gently calming and quiet reads, but they were just not cutting it. My eyes were seeing the words, my brain was somewhere else entirely. What I didn’t realise (aah, hindsight!) was that I needed a big, powerhouse of a book to slap my brain around with, get it out of slump-mode using good old fashioned brute force.

So mindless scrolling on Twitter was all I could focus on.

Then it happened. I came across a very eye catching bright red ARC of a book not due out until Spring 2021.

The die-cut front cover was gorgeous. The synopsis, terrifying. The End of Men would either wake up my reading with a violent shake or send it further down into blank oblivion. I was prepared to run that risk. The world around me has partly shut down and my mind was rapidly following suit.

I’ve got hundreds of books to be read, but what did I do? I requested it on NetGalley of course!

It seemed like a bit of a madcap idea to read about a deadly virus, I’m trying to escape the continuous doom and gloom of this world, not add to it. What the hell am I doing?!

Anyway, I had my request accepted and dived straight in.

There’s a global pandemic and men are dying. Men are dead. Women are carriers, fiercely protecting their sons, watching as their husbands are savagely taken by this killer disease. The thankful ones had daughters. Only one in ten men are immune.

The End of Men is in the literary fiction genre, with fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian tones that were worryingly real.

‘The world is closing down’.

It was hitting temperatures here in Hampshire, UK of 35 degrees, yet I felt chilled to the bone.

Written in multiple points of view from various parts of the world, from Scotland to Singapore, from Canada, to the USA and everywhere else in between, I was able to follow every thread of this story with ease. Usually any more that two or three viewpoints throw me when I’m reading, I struggle to remember who’s voice I’m hearing. All these characters were diverse and the writing style was crystal clear. Everyone’s journey was a path I followed with ease.

‘Billionaires have become millionaires, the value of money has evaporated, and this city built on sexism and mans ability to play God through technology is falling apart at the seams.’

At around the halfway mark, I had this niggling pain in my face. I thought I was perhaps coming down with something. (Oh no, those awful paranoid Coronavirus thoughts were creeping in!) Turns out I’d been clenching my teeth so hard whilst reading that I’d given myself a tension headache and jaw-ache! What a relief! So I took some paracetamol and carried on reading.

‘I have never felt so powerful. This must be what men used to feel like. My mere physical presence is enough to terrify someone into running. No wonder they used to get drunk on it.’

The tables have turned. Women are the future in Sweeney-Baird’s world. Women are being relied upon to save the world, the human race. I’d say it’s about time too, judging by the state of our real pandemic, maybe turf out the blokes, us girls could surely do a better job. (I’m looking at you, New Zealand!)

What I wasn’t expecting was how frightened I felt if we were to be without men completely. Who would remove the spiders? Reach the top shelf for the gravy granules? Clean the windows? I’m joking, obviously. I’m no Stepford Wife, (one of the books I read and thoroughly enjoyed this year by the way!) but seriously, thank goodness this was a work of fiction, albeit too close to reality for comfort at times.

‘Tonight, I will drink a lot of wine, something I only allow myself to do occasionally to avoid slipping into the kind of sodden, drunken grief that I can see the appeal of very clearly’.

I know it sounds completely nuts, but I would say this is recommended reading for any person, man or woman, who’s life has been affected by Covid-19. So that’s EVERYONE then. It’s put our current situation into better perspective for me, that’s for sure. For the first time since March I’ve felt a little more positive and a lot more thankful because actually, things really could be a whole lot worse.

‘Bad things and good things can coexist…..’ ‘And we have to find the good where we can.’

Ladies and gentlemen, give that man in your life an enormous hug.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to the author, Christina Sweeney-Baird, the publisher, Harper Fiction for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review via the NetGalley platform.
Profile Image for La Tonya  Jordan.
278 reviews88 followers
June 22, 2021
It is November of 2025 and Amanda McClean is an emergency room doctor in Glasgow, United Kingdom in Scotland where she identifies the first patient who has the plague that kills only men. This novel takes you thru the next four next years of the plague's journey around the world. It spreads quickly through Europe, Asia, America, Greenland, Africa, and all other parts of the world killing ninety percent of the men's population before a vaccine is found. A life where men become a scarcity and a new world to vision.

How does the world adjust in jobs, economies, national security, governments, policing, education, etc... becomes the bases of this novel. You read the frustrations of women who have lost their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers. How do they cope with life? How do they move on? Who do they blame? How do they get retrained in male dominate fields with few males left to train them. Some parts of the novel reads off the pages of today's newspapers regarding COVID-19. We have lived parts of these stories and characters. Too close for comfort.

Quotes:

What I do know, from years of reporting, is that ignorance, incompetence and fear so often go hand in hand with government that none of us should be surprised if the institutions we thought would keep us safe would in fact be woefully inadequate in the face of a pandemic.

Sometimes honesty can feel like a betrayal.

"Of the two hundred eighty-four boys I've helped to deliver in the last six months, twenty-nine have survived."

Trans women on this side - you're all probably going to die. Trans men on that side - you're all going to be fine.

"Perhaps some traumas are too overwhelming to recover from."
Profile Image for Tammy.
867 reviews159 followers
June 15, 2021
In light of our current pandemic, I don’t know why I thought it wasn’t too soon to read this book about a pandemic. It was a bit uncomfortable for me to read. Set in 2025, a mysterious new virus has emerged that only affects men, women are immune. It unravels as top scientists try to find a cure and learn how to cope with the consequences it has brought upon the world. Told by women in multiple points of view, it tells how they’re handling the situation, worrying for the men and boys in their lives, and grieving those they’ve lost. Women are then left to restructure society after losing 90% of the male population. I liked how this story was broken down giving a clearer picture of the pandemic in stages. It’s compelling and timely. Eerily this book was written before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
January 4, 2021
Extraordinarily prescient and profoundly thought-provoking, The End of Men is set in the near future and opens in a Glasgow hospital in 2025 with no-nonsense A & E consultant, Dr Amanda Maclean, facing worrying signs of a potentially lethal virus. As a number of men present with flu like symptoms that escalate to death within hours it is Amanda who identifies Patient Zero, suggests that the virus is lethal to males alone and yet is ignored by public health authorities. An explosion of cases see the virus become a global pandemic with previously inconceivable implications for every aspect of society.

Dealing with her own personal grief as a wife and mother of two sons and yet determined to be heard and actually identify the source, Amanda is an inspirational figure. Her first-person narrative is just one of several that are followed and dominate the story along with that of an anthropology lecturer, a civil servant and one of the team engaged in the pursuit of a vaccine. There are arguably too many minor characters included in the book and it is impossible to connect with them all, however I am in awe of the scope of the novel with the author considering everything from enforced evacuations to same-sex dating and managing changes in the labour market. Yet despite the very obvious trauma and the death toll it is the characters resilience and human nature’s ability to adapt that imbues the novel with a burgeoning sense of hope.
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