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The Children of Men Book Review + Movie Review

The Children of Men by P.D. James

The Children of Men by PD James Book Cover

Summary: The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future. The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization is crumbling with suicide and despair becoming commonplace. Historian Theodore Faron spend most of his time reminiscing about the past until Julian and her band of unlikely revolutionaries awaken his desire to live for the future. They may hold the key to the survival for the human race.

The Not Too Distant Future is Here

Similar to other novels I have read recently like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Giver, I could see myself living in the dystopian society of The Children of Men. For one, the main story takes place in 2021. In our time, it has not been 25 years since a baby has been born in the entire world (THE WORLD, CRAIG!!), but U.S. birthrate fell for a fourth consecutive year in 2018. Although it is less likely for the entire world to become infertile at the same time, it does feel plausible. As more women have agency over their life choices, even in our Darkest Timeline (Thanks Third Wave Feminism!), living in a world that has not seen a baby in years seems very likely. For me, there is nothing more terrifying than reading about a dystopian future that feels like its occurrence is inevitable a strong possibility. 

Change is Good

The Children of Men feels like it can take place today. The adaptation visuals are more in line with other dystopian futures. Children of Men is a dark, dreary hellscape of 80’s NYC, just a dirty, grimy mess. While the novel implies society continues on with business as usual despite humanity’s impending demise, the movie shows the truth. Once humans do not have the hope of the next generation, there is no point in trying to be better or to do better for the future. Overall, Children of Men takes hopelessness to the next level while still being grounded in reality.

While reading The Children of Men, I never pictured Clive Owens as Theo Faron, even though I previously watched the movie before knowing it was based on a book. However, Owens perfectly captures the unlikable grump turned unlikely hero Theo becomes as the story progresses. Children of Men shows it is not necessary for an adaptation to follow every plot point in the book to be considered good.

The adaptation makes changes to make the film work while upholding the essence of the source material. In the novel, Theo and Julian are basically strangers. In the movie, they are a divorced couple reunited for a cause. Other changes in the adaptation include changing major plot lines, combining characters, and adding new characters. However, none of these changes diluted the original story.

Overall Opinion

The Children of Men shows a dystopian future that feels all too certain. I enjoyed The Children of Men as a whole, but there were times when the story seemed to drag. The good news is those moments were few and far between. Despite changes to the plot, Children of Men does a good job of adapting the source material. Even P.D. James was pleased with the final version of the film. Rating: Page Turner / Theater Popcorn