Book review Friday – Children of Men

This post comes just in time to welcome the winter Holidays and you’ll see why in a minute or so.

children_of_men

Do you tend read the book before seeing the movie? And sometimes refuse to see the movie before you finish the book?

ya, I do that too 😉

And this time was pure coincidence. The bookstore by my house was having a sale and after spending a couple of hours browsing through the aisles I picked up a pile of books, which contained a copy of Children of Men by P.D. James. I picked it up because the description on the sleeve caught my eye.

It is the year 2021 in England. The human race has lost the ability to reproduce. For a quarter of a century, all male sperm has been infertile. The last children to be born left the womb in 1995, a year that has come to be known as “Omega”, the end of all things. On top of all things, the world’s youngest person has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction. A world without children is a world without a future and a world without hope.

The most interesting part of the book was the description of how the human population dealt with global infertility. Women who would never have children start pushing dolls around in strollers as if they were babies or having their cats christened. Safety and comfort are prime government promises. People with any kind of disability (from diabetes to weakened limbs) are second-class citizens, not included in compulsory fertility testing arranged for people all around town.

As I finished this book, I was a little bit confused about whether it was a Christian story or not. There were a lot of Christian allusions and borrowed names, but I couldn’t pin down exactly what the whole thing meant. Upon consulting several reviews of the story, I found that P. D. James intended the story as a sort of Christian fable or allegory. The boy-child who is born is Christ; his mother Mary (Julian) flees from the evil king Herod (Xan). After his birth, the magi (Xan’s council) come and view him with wonder. The name of Luke, the father of the child, looks back to the third gospel, the one with the fullest telling of the Arival story. And as you recall, the gospel of Luke was addressed to Theophilos (Theo). I found it an interesting play on words that the Isle of Man was the place of total evil and corruption. So, as a symbol, it does tell a Christian tale. However, if you take the novel as a novel and not as a symbol, then it becomes an interesting and depressing commentary on power and the corruption that it brings.


Couple of years later the trailer of a movie with the same name was interesting enough to make me go see the movie too!! Well, the book and the movie are definitely two separate entities. They even have different endings. The book sets place in a quiet, late fall England, whereas the movie sets place in a war zone England and how people deal with those struggles too. Two points of view worth capturing!

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