Book review entries

September 21, 2006

The Children of Men

5 out of 5 stars

I think it is obvious why I chose to read this book now. Yes, it is because I think the film looks brilliant, and I wanted to get in there with the book, as I often find the book better than the film, and didn’t want my reading of it spoiled in that sense.

The volume has two distinct “books,” part one is called Omega, and part two, Alpha. The first gives a history of the situation the world is in by 2021. Mankind is infertile, and this lead to the rise of the Omega generation. The last generation of babies to be born during the 1990’s, and they now have a status almost of deity. The protagonist in this tale is Theo, a cousin of the ‘Warden of England,’ Xan, who is in all but name, dictator. Xan has introduced measures to keep the country safe, and let mankind die out in dignity. This includes the Man penal colony on the Isle of Man, for those with any criminal tendencies, the Quietus, the mass assisted suicide of the elderly – supposedly voluntary, and the compulsory fertility testing of men and women in a hope of finding someone fertile to continue humanity.

A radical group who want changes to the system, an end to the compulsory fertility testing, an end to the Quietus (which isn’t so voluntary, and some authority in the Man penal colony contacts Theo. The five fishes as they are called, ask Theo to persuade Xan to implement changes, which Xan implies he will look into, but tells Theo not to bank on any changes. This isn’t good enough for the Five Fishes, who then set about blowing up the Quietus docks, leading to an investigation by the state police….

This book is superbly written, and captivates you with the thrill of the story. You might not think it goes anywhere in the first few chapters, but this scene setting becomes vitally important to your understanding of the relationship between Xan and Theo, and the moral undertones of the novel. I highly recommend it, and I hope the film can live up to my expectations.

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