The Children of Men
But I am reviewing the book here. So forget about movie comparisons.
I had been surprised to experience PD James as being the author. Ive never read any of her books, but know her name through the titles lining the bookshelves of my mystery-loving brother. I don’t know if PD James has made any other excursions into sci fi, dystopian or otherwise. I was equally surprised to discover that the book was published in 1992. If it was not for the film, I probably would have not read the book. I’m certainly glad I did.James’ writing was
an absolute pleasure to read through, tight and focused and plain. Her writing is mature; she doesn’t depend on cheap writing tactics to add flash and flair to her story. The novel has the precise pace connected with an accomplished storyteller, with chapters and paragraphs providing only what they really want, without any decoration or frippery. I came across myself deeply active in the story, flipping pages as fast as I could read them, and constantly hungry for an additional paragraph, another chapter.James paints
a frightening picture in “The Children of Men.” A slow loss of birthrate can be regarded as an accomplishment of the human race, up until the terrifying moment when individuals realize that the decline is permanent. This was an amazing amount of foresight from James; even now in Japan the birthrate is within a real falling decline that the government is paying people to have babies. I confess a little shiver when I read James’ discussion of Omega. It could be happening right this moment.
I actually have read in a few reviews that James did a poor job predicting the near future, a world without mobile phones or even the internet. But I think those people didn’t study the book adequately. She clearly states any time humanity knew that there was no future, technological advances stopped and regressed, as people were struck by a universal apathy and didn’t see the reason behind doing work for advancements of a dying race. Geriatric medicine was the only technology to create post-Omega strides, because that’s all people thought about.This apathy touches
every part of the storyline. Mankind becomes just like the most depressed occupants of retirement homes, waiting patiently to die and no longer participating in the modern world. The characters themselves are apathetic. Dr. Theo Faron hides in his familiar academia, studying the past that has much less relevance than the present. His cousin, Xan Lyppiatt, is the Warder of England and absolute dictator, but doesn’t understand the point in such things as “human dignity” for a race that will be finished in five years. Most of the people just wander the world inside a daze.
Prefer of sci fi, “The Children of Men” forced me to consider what my own, personal reaction might possibly be. Would I get angry with the injustice of fate? Become a hero? Become a villain? Or, similar to most within the book, Would I disappear into a realm of pleasure and comfort, peacefully awaiting the finale? That seems most likely. Hopefully I’ll never need to know.“The Children of Men” also reminded me of Never
Let Me Go, another dystopian short novel that has been recently converted into a film. Both maintain the point-of-view slim, and only hint with the goings on in the larger world. We’re never told the “Why” behind events, or the way the rest of the world reacted to the news. There isn’t any obligatory check-in along with the U . S ., and we only get glimpses and hints of life outside the protection of the Warden of England. James could have stretched “The “Children of Men” into a massive doorstop of a book, or perhaps a series, exploring all of the other millions of persons affected in a world without birth. Instead, the tight focus offers the story more power. It really is undiluted.