The Children of MenThe Children of Men by P.D. James

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

SPOILER ALERT! you’ve been warned.

it’s very rare for me to re-read a book and think: why in the hell did i like this book so much?

i remember i was so excited before the movie came out, dying to see what the moviemakers did with such a fabulous premise: people stopped having babies 25 years ago. dynamite! i so wish i’d thought of it!

and wow, all i can say is, the moviemakers did a vastly finer job with this great premise than P.D. James did.

James’ protag, Theo (beloved of God!), is such a git. here humanity is reducing itself at a frightening rate, and yet Theo manages to find exponentially more reasons to hate it. he doesn’t appear to like anybody at all. he whines through the entire book about what a lousy species we are, and how unspectacularly worth perpetuating, all the while perseverating on petty, petty crap. and even in the end, when it looks like there may be more of us after all, all he can do is grieve about that fact.

and Julian! our heroine. she has all the personality of a mop bucket. everything she says is said “quietly”–lest we forget she’s a mousy sort, James reminds us with nearly every other dialogue tag. i don’t know how she could end up pregnant and still walk around, lacking a spine as she does. our Julian is a container, that’s it.

the only character with any spunk or grit is the midwife, but unfortunately all she ever gets to be is a midwife. we pretty much never get to hear her opinions on anything else happening in the world.

i drove an hour to get to the nearest theater playing the movie when it came out. and it was soooo worth it. the movie really rocks–they pretty much cut out the first half of the book, and drastically rearranged the second. i can’t think of any choices they made that were worse than the choices in the book.

this may be the only time in my life i’ll say it: watch the movie, forget about the book.