The Children of Men, P.D. James

So my thoughts on the film version of Children of Men sort of went like this: Mmmm, Clive Owen.  And then, Ah yes, apocalypse, issues being dealt with – I feel like this is a perfect time for Clive Owen to strangle someone with his bare hands.  This is shallow, I know, but I just have this reaction to Clive Owen every time I see him.  Even in Gosford Park when there was absolutely no chance of his strangling someone with his bare hands, because it was all proper and British up in that movie.

My thoughts on the book did not include any reflections about Clive Owen.  I was underwhelmed, I have to say.  For a dystopian novel, this was pretty tame.  All the women in the world have stopped having babies (that’s quite excellent as a premise!), so the world is slowly dying out.  Not very nice for anyone.  The protagonist, Theo, is cousin to the Warden of England; he keeps a diary and gets approached by a group of dissidents.  They want him to approach the Warden and ask the Warden to fix some things, like the officially-voluntary-but-really-sort-of-compulsory mass suicide of the elderly.  This doesn’t work out, as you might expect, and then it turns out that one of the dissidents is pregnant!  And then they have to go on the run!

Here was my problem, and I’m going to have spoilers here.  The whole thing lacked a feeling of suspense.  There wasn’t a viable enemy – the pregnant chick was convinced that she would die instantly if the government found her, so that’s why they were on the run.  I didn’t have a feeling that they were in really terrible danger, even after several of their group got caught and killed.  For some reason, Theo kept a diary for half the book, alternating with third-person narrative, and then he was like, Meh, I’m tired of this diary business, which felt like P.D. James saying, Why did I start this diary in the first place?  Jesus.  You don’t find out Julian’s pregnant until halfway through the book.  I WAS DISPLEASED.

However, I still want to read some of P.D. James’s proper mysteries.  Dystopia may not be her thing.  And I don’t really like dystopian books either, although I seem to have read a lot of them in the past year for some reason.

Other thoughts:

an adventure in reading
books i done read
Grasping for the Wind
Books on Screen
Books and Other Stuff
Ready When You Are, C.B.
she treads softly
Semicolon

Let me know if I missed yours!

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6 thoughts on “The Children of Men, P.D. James

  1. It just seemed like it should have been better. The premise was fabulous, but it fell a bit flat. The main character was too blah.
    Was the movie better? I’ve heard it takes a different direction, which is what the book prob. needed.

  2. The movie was completely different, what little I can remember of it. The main character was, um, was not blah – but honestly, when I said just that my main memories of the movie were all, Clive Owen is yummy, I was exaggerating very little. The pregnant girl wasn’t the love interest, and they amped up the jeopardy quite a bit. That was better than the book, but I still wasn’t really in love with the movie.

  3. I definitely liked this a decent amount because dystopias are my bread and butter, but THE DIARY!!! WTFTFTFTFTFTFTFTFTFTFTFTFTFT! Either use the narrative device or do not use the narrative device, but do not forGET that you were using the narrative device.

    • Right? Right? Why did she bother with it? It didn’t add anything to the plot to begin with, and then she got sick of it and abandoned it! I feel like an Institution in Mystery like PD James should have known better.

  4. It slightly was my fault – I’d heard that this wasn’t the best of her books, but I was at the PD James shelf, and the library was about to close, and I had to grab one really quickly – should’ve just left it for another time. After I’d had time to think, and read her Wikipedia article, and make a decision. Oh well. I’ll get a better one next time.

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