The Children of Men

The Children of Men

by P. D. James


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The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.

Told with P. D. James’s trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307275431
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/16/2006
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 90,425
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

P. D. James is the author of twenty books, many of which feature her detective hero Adam Dalgliesh and have been televised or filmed. She was the recipient of many honors, including the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature, and in 1991 was created Baroness James of Holland Park. She died in 2014.


London, England

Date of Birth:

August 3, 1920

Place of Birth:

Oxford, England


Attended the Cambridge High School for Girls from 1931 to 1937 and later took evening classes in hospital administration

Read an Excerpt

BOOK ONEOMEGAJanuary—March 20211Friday 1 January 2021Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years two months and twelve days. If the first reports are to be believed, Joseph Ricardo died as he had lived. The distinction, if one can call it that, of being the last human whose birth was officially recorded, unrelated as it was to any personal virtue or talent, had always been difficult for him to handle. And now he is dead. The news was given to us here in Britain on the nine o’clock programme of the State Radio Service and I heard it fortuitously. I had settled down to begin this diary of the last half of my life when I noticed the time and thought I might as well catch the headlines to the nine o’clock bulletin. Ricardo’s death was the last item mentioned, and then only briefly, a couple of sentences delivered without emphasis in the newscaster’s carefully non-committal voice. But it seemed to me, hearing it, that it was a small additional justification for beginning the diary today; the first day of a new year and my fiftieth birthday. As a child I had always liked that distinction, despite the inconvenience of having it follow Christmas too quickly so that one present – it never seemed notably superior to the one I would in any case have received – had to do for both celebrations.As I begin writing, the three events, the New Year, my fiftieth birthday, Ricardo’s death, hardly justify sullying the first pages of this new loose-leaf notebook. But I shall continue, one small additional defence against personal accidie. If there is nothing to record, I shall record the nothingness and then if, and when, I reach old age – as most of us can expect to, we have become experts at prolonging life – I shall open one of my tins of hoarded matches and light my small personal bonfire of vanities. I have no intention of leaving the diary as a record of one man’s last years. Even in my most egotistical moods I am not as self-deceiving as that. What possible interest can there be in the journal of Theodore Faron, Doctor of Philosophy, Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford, historian of the Victorian age, divorced, childless, solitary, whose only claim to notice is that he is cousin to Xan Lyppiatt, the dictator and Warden of England. No additional personal record is, in any case, necessary. All over the world nation states are preparing to store their testimony for the posterity which we can still occasionally convince ourselves may follow us, those creatures from another planet who may land on this green wilderness and ask what kind of sentient life once inhabited it. We are storing our books and manuscripts, the great paintings, the musical scores and instruments, the artefacts. The world’s greatest libraries will in forty years’ time at most be darkened and sealed. The buildings, those that are still standing, will speak for themselves. The soft stone of Oxford is unlikely to survive more than a couple of centuries. Already the University is arguing about whether it is worth refacing the crumbling Sheldonian. But I like to think of those mythical creatures landing in St. Peter’s Square and entering the great Basilica, silent and echoing under the centuries of dust. Will they realize that this was once the greatest of man’s temples to one of his many gods? Will they be curious about his nature, this deity who was worshipped with such pomp and splendour, intrigued by the mystery of his symbol, at once so simple, the two crossed sticks, ubiquitous in nature, yet laden with gold, gloriously jewelled and adorned? Or will their values and their thought processes be so alien to ours that nothing of awe or wonder will be able to touch them? But despite the discovery – in 1997 was it? – of a planet which the astronomers told us could support life, few of us really believe that they will come. They must be there. It is surely unreasonable to credit that only one small star in the immensity of the universe is capable of developing and supporting intelligent life. But we shall not get to them and they will not come to us.Twenty years ago, when the world was already half convinced that our species had lost for ever the power to reproduce, the search to find the last-known human birth became a universal obsession, elevated to a matter of national pride, an international contest as ultimately pointless as it was fierce and acrimonious. To qualify the birth had to be officially notified, the date and precise time recorded. This effectively excluded a high proportion of the human race where the day but not the hour was known, and it was accepted, but not emphasized, that the result could never be conclusive. Almost certainly in some remote jungle, in some primitive hut, the last human being had slipped largely unnoticed into an unregarding world. But after months of checking and re-checking, Joseph Ricardo, of mixed race, born illegitimately in a Buenos Aires hospital at two minutes past three Western time on 19 October 1995, had been officially recognized. Once the result was proclaimed, he was left to exploit his celebrity as best he could while the world, as if suddenly aware of the futility of the exercise, turned its attention elsewhere. And now he is dead and I doubt whether any country will be eager to drag the other candidates from oblivion.We are outraged and demoralized less by the impending end of our species, less even by our inability to prevent it, than by our failure to discover the cause. Western science and Western medicine haven’t prepared us for the magnitude and humiliation of this ultimate failure. There have been many diseases which have been difficult to diagnose or cure and one which almost depopulated two continents before it spent itself. But we have always in the end been able to explain why. We have given names to the viruses and germs which, even today, take possession of us, much to our chagrin since it seems a personal affront that they should still assail us, like old enemies who keep up the skirmish and bring down the occasional victim when their victory is assured. Western science has been our god. In the variety of its power it has preserved, comforted, healed, warmed, fed and entertained us and we have felt free to criticize and occasionally reject it as men have always rejected their gods, but in the knowledge that despite our apostasy, this deity, our creature and our slave, would still provide for us; the anaesthetic for the pain, the spare heart, the new lung, the antibiotic, the moving wheels and the moving pictures. The light will always come on when we press the switch and if it doesn’t we can find out why. Science was never a subject I was at home with. I understood little of it at school and I understand little more now that I’m fifty. Yet it has been my god too, even if its achievements are incomprehensible to me, and I share the universal disillusionment of those whose god has died. I can clearly remember the confident words of one biologist spoken when it had finally become apparent that nowhere in the whole world was there a pregnant woman: “It may take us some time to discover the cause of this apparent universal infertility.” We have had twenty-five years and we no longer even expect to succeed. Like a lecherous stud suddenly stricken with impotence, we are humiliated at the very heart of our faith in ourselves. For all our knowledge, our intelligence, our power, we can no longer do what the animals do without thought. No wonder we both worship and resent them.

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“Extraordinary … daring … frightening in its implications.”
The New York Times

“She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery.”
The Times (UK)

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The Children of Men 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 101 reviews.
MPW More than 1 year ago
An inventive view of a disturbing but potential future. A cautionary tale--loss of fertility is directly dealt with but can be a metaphor for being out of balance with nature in other ways too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing! It took a little while to get into, but once I got started reading it i could not put it down. The suspense was priceless, the characters were profound and the plot was pure genius. It was beautifully written and is ranked high on my list of favorite books!
Guest More than 1 year ago

Often the appeal of science fiction lies in the genre's ability to extrapolate from the trends of the present and project them into the future. One novel exemplifying this tendency is 'The Children Of Men' by P.D. James.

In 'The Children Of Men', the reader finds a world where the population has become inexplicably infertile and must deal with the stresses of a dwindling population and the psychological angst that results when many realize what's the point of life if it will come to a screeching halt in a scant generation. Such a milieu is explored through the eyes of Oxford Historian Theodore Faron who becomes a reluctant intermediary between a group of bumbling, idealistic revolutionaries and the dictatorial Warden of England who happens to be Theodore's cousin.

The group starts out with the goal of enacting needed reforms such as better treatment of migrant workers known as Sojourners and restoring order to an out-of-control penal colony on the Isle of Man where the inmates --- some not as criminal as the general population is led to believe --- are left to fend for themselves. However, as the story unfolds a matter of greater urgency comes to the forefront of the plot, namely that a couple within the cell has been able to conceive a child.

'The Children Of Men' is not the most riveting example of the dystopian police state novel. It often gets bogged in the details of the personal experiences, emotions, and perceptions of its protagonist Theodore Faron. Yet at times the book provides glimpses into a morally eerie world where the outrages of our own day are allowed to fester to ghastly proportions.

For example, the elderly are encouraged to commit ritualized suicide in a ceremony called the 'Quietus', which Theo discovers is not quite so voluntary for those trying to back out at the last minute. Since people no longer have children, they instead lavish their nurturing affections on pets, even having their kittens christened at formalized baptisms. Those born into the last generation are given free reign and little moral instruction --- as such they are self-absorbed to the point of arrogance and even murder.

Of particular interest is the frequent mention of religion made throughout the novel. Two of the revolutionaries are motivated by Christian beliefs. However, others hide behind the cloak of aberrant faith as a scam to enrich themselves personally.

'Roaring Roger' is a fire-and-brimstone televangelist preaching that the global infertility is God's judgment while playing on guilt and fear to finance his own lavish lifestyle. Rosie McClure is more broadminded in her religious views, but so much so her brain roles right out as she preaches a gospel of nonjudgmental hedonism. The Church of England is characterized as 'no longer with a common doctrine or common liturgy, [and] so fragmented that there was no knowing what some sects might have come to believe.' One just wishes Ms. James had spent as much time in such socio-clerical exposition as she did in embroidering the extraneously tedious background details of Professor Faron's psyche.

he political situation described in 'The Children Of Men' serves as a cautionary tale where our own institutions are headed if we are not careful. In most speculative narratives dealing with one form of totalitarianism or the other, the regimes under consideration often lord over the masses with brutality.

In 'The Children Of Men', however, the Warden's regime is rather genteel as far as dictatorships go if you happen to be a good little citizen and not to stir up offense. But then again, most of the citizens don't cause much trouble anyway since most have lost interest in political participation and the Warden is careful to maintain illusions of democracy. Of this society very much like our own, one is reminded of Francis Schaeffer's warnings in 'A Christian Manifesto' about comfort and affluence becoming the organizing p

Guest More than 1 year ago
A book full of suprises and captivating events. It is quite amazing for the reader to read as the main character, Theo, grows in his now seemingly doomed world. He grows in personality, humanity and love. A very worthwhile read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
PD James has crafted something of a masterpiece here. While I have yet to read her mysteries, I was absolutely amazed by 'Children of Men.' I had expected something of a cautionary tale, but what I received instead was a tale on par with such classics of the genre as Fahrenheit 451. And I say that with all honesty, and without fear of reprisal from any of the nay sayers who have spoken ill of this novel. The language is remiscent of Tolkien--I suppose that may act as something of a deterrent to those who did not care for the Lord of The Rings trilogy. All that aside, James creates a reluctant anti-hero as compelling if not more plausible than Bradbury's Montag. She writes of savagery with the same sort of detached amazement you find in Golding's 'Lord of the Flies.' And the ending! I beg to argue that those who hate it do not fully understand it. So ominous! So cyclical! Seriously, for more reasons than I've stated, do yourself a favor and read this book!
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
P.D. James’ The Children of Men inspired a really exciting movie, but the novel’s deeper and stronger, more thought-provoking and, in its own way, possibly even more thrilling. While the movie presents a world-wide disaster from the points of view of a few, the novel manages to create both global and intimate views simultaneously. A well-educated protagonist comments on life and influence in his diary, recognizing the needs of the downtrodden even while he blithely seems to ignore them. But his influence has waned and the reader soon wonders if he’s a more honorable man than he cares to believe. Meanwhile other characters come to him for help and soon dispassionate understanding gives way to dangerous actions and, possibly, hope. While the opening of the novel seems far less dark and far more comfortably contemporary than that of the movie, the themes of a world without children are none the less haunting and the author’s imagining of how the world might change are scarily plausible, inviting questions of what’s truly important and where the boundaries of good behavior and social acceptance should lie. The reader is quickly drawn into the protagonist’s world, seeing the decay of academia as a mirror of society’s fall, and reading the protagonist's diary in hopes of learning more. His musings pair hope and despair. His actions pair honesty and deception. The consequences pair guilt and promise. And the whole is a beautifully balanced novel, thoroughly enthralling, hauntingly evocative, and intriguingly provocative. Faith, religion, law and order all play their part, but the greatest of these just might prove after all to be love. Disclosure: I borrowed this novel from one of my mother’s friends.
KatZombie More than 1 year ago
The Children of Men is a book that paints a disturbing picture – if human beings ceased to be born, what would happen to the world? How would we continue to function, knowing that as a species, we are dying out? There are some sad, touching moments in this book – the mass suicide of the elderly (willing or not), women cherishing dolls as if they were babies, and kittens being christened as the ageing population try to find a substitute for childbirth and child-rearing. The main character, Theo, is not instantly likeable, seemingly happy to be self-reliant and distanced from the people around him, teaching history to bored middle-aged women and reminiscing on his earlier years with his cousin Xan, Warden of England. However, as the story progresses, through his willingness to become involved with the underground who are striving to make the dying world a better place, even although on the surface he seems to most unlikely candidate for rebellion, and his particular way of caring for Julian, he develops into an intricate, fascinating character. The writing is incredibly descriptive, perhaps for some readers overly so, and I had to call up my dictionary more than once. There are some negatives to this book – I found the middle part to be incredibly slow-moving after a riveting start, however the action does pick up again. I also didn’t fully understand the relevance of The Painted Faces, and wanted to know more about what they represented and why they were terrorizing people so randomly. However, The Children of Men is today also a relevant social commentary, as the average life-span of humans continues to grow, in places the elderly outnumber the young and in first world countries the birth rate steadily falls, how immigration is managed (or mismanaged) by wealthier countries and the trial and punishment of criminals is undertaken. Perhaps, after reading P.D. James’ dystopia, there could be some changed opinions
crimson-tide on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very different from the usual James book, but just as well written. Very well written in fact; with her usual brilliant characterisation, and images that bounce out from the words and lodge in your head. It is a thoughtful, compelling and powerful read. Theo is a complex but not particularly likeable anti-hero, who becomes transformed by the process of loving someone. There are plenty of themes to reflect on . . . the need for hope, the despair and futility that eats away at people like a cancer when there appears to be no future for the race, the nature of religion and the nature of power, among others. However one thing that didn't ring true at all in the dystopian times and I just cannot accept, is that interest in (and enjoyment of) sex would drop off across the whole population purely because procreation was no longer a possible outcome.Apparently there is a film (released in 2006) based very loosely on the story. I'm glad I didn't see it before reading the book.
Wosret on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up after having seen (and loved) the movie. It's completely different, but this is not a bad thing. I was very reminded of Nineteen Eighty-Four and A Handmaid's Tale, both of which I loved. It was very believable and quite depressing at times, since I could see some of the very things which were shown as oppressive happening right now in the society I live in.Since it was published some time ago, I realised as I was reading that some of the characters would have been my age and in similar life situations at certain points. I was really able to identify with many events, which made certain things very difficult to read (emotionally-speaking). If it were republished today, all they'd have to do would be to update the dates - it's still relevant and timely.
horacewimsey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as it could have been. Premise was great. Application, not so good. I expected better of Baroness James. And don't see the movie either. If the book was disappointing, the movie was worse.
kylenapoli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This may be a sad commentary on me, but I loved the movie too much to finish the book.
Mendoza on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
James concretely explores an unthinkable prospect. For some unfathomable reason women stopped getting pregnant. Whereas this sounds like a good beginning to a scifi novel - I don't really feel that The CHildren Of Men comes off as one. Instead, it is a chilling and dark look at the resulting effects on societies across the globe.In the space of a generation humanity has lost its future. Existence is bleak indeed with the knowledge that there is no future - so what does it matter to live your life? WHo will benefit? Why write a book? No one will read it. Why paint that painting? No one in the future to appreciate. There is no connection anymore.This novel is frightening in it's implications - and many would connect shades of it to practices in affect today. How close are we to ruining ourselves?I found this book difficutl to get through - but ultimately rewarding for doing so even if I was depressed by the end.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the book because I enjoyed the movie. It is my first PD James book. A well written book with a few sentences that needed editing. The first chapter was superb. The next two not so but it did get better. A dark future because we are a dark species. I didn't figure the ending until the last couple of pages. It was sufficiently different from the movie to stay interesting.
rameau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this better than the movie, because England in the book is still pretty grim, but it's from humanity winding down rather than the Mad Max craziness of the film. (The film really borrows only the basic premise and the character names.) Speaking of casting, the Theo of the book seems more Steve Coogan than Clive Owen.
MarthaHuntley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those cases of reading a book because it was the selection for a reading group I'm in -- I had never heard of the book, and wouldn't have read it otherwise. Unfortunately, I really disliked The Children of Men. I've read several others of P.D. James and have thought of her as an unusually fine author, but this book seemed a clunker to me. The characters were not only not three-dimensional, they weren't even two dimensional. I had remembered James' writing as fairly ponderous and slow, but filled with graceful insights and often Christian-oriented themes and hope. But this book wallows in hopelessness and despair...very depressing reading. I couldn't find a character in it that was likeable, or believable. The dialogue was painful. The "hero" was pitiful and full of self-pity, self-everything. The only positive thing I can say about the book is that its premise -- no child born in 25 years, and what that would mean to (British) society and the world is a jolting thought. It's certainly a new and powerful way to look at the sanctity of life. Otherwise I think this book is a bust.
pauliharman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An intersting and enjoyable read. James portrays an England in a world where the human race has become infertile; a society that has adapted itself to a child-free existence and is preparing itself for the end. Well written and believable, with sympathetic characters and superb pacing and narrative.
zerorpm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, and read it because of the recent film. I thought the film was better in its gritty portrayal of a near post-apocalyptic world. The book touched on some of the compelling issues that the film portrays well - faith, loss of hope, societal decay and the 'democratic dictatorship'.The idea of the 'omegas' was an interesting - the last of the young people - who were affected strongly by the hope and experiments done on them. Some thrived under the attention whereas some went crazy and feral.
theboylatham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago


A mystery prevents children being born. As the world survives, what happens when one woman gets pregnant. Disappointingly not about a dystopia, more about a group of people and their run from the law, but good nevertheless.

Eruntane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I usually try and read the book before I see the film, but in this case I think it's better that I did it the other way round. I was able to enjoy the film without getting worked up over how different it was from the book.The book itself is great, with truly masterful characterisation. No-one is either a saint or a demon (although the Warden gets called the Devil on more than one occasion) and every character is more or less beautifully flawed. The ending has hope, but not too much, and the seeds of future tension are sowed along with the plans for improvement.
CynthiaBelgum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written, but too full of unlikely events and character turns. James depicts England in 2021 after no human has been born since 1995. At the end, for no explicable reason, a child is born.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the year 2021, men have become sterile, and the world collapses into a sense of hopelessness with the British government promising at best a chance to live in comfort while living out their last days. Historian Theodore Faron is content with this comfort, letting his life fall into a routine without passion, but when one of his former students approaches him for help, he soon finds himself drawn into a scheme to overthrow the government and discovers a secret that may save the human race.I picked up this book, because I loved the movie so much. They are both (movie and book) somewhat bleak in the way they reveal the carelessness, desperation, and violence that occurs when people are stripped of all hope. The sense of hope is more tentative in the book, and even when I put it down, I didn't feel all that great about the potential of human race, but I suppose that commentary is part of the point.As a whole, this was an engaging book, which started slow, but drew you with the detailed world that is created, with the intrigue of this radical group, and with the emotional and spiritual evolution of Theo.
TheBentley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't think P.D. James has ever written a truly "bad" book, but this was not one of my favorites. I will say, however, that I watched the film immediately after finishing the book just for comparison, and if you're remotely interested in the story, do yourself a favor and read the book. Not only is the film a very poor adaptation of the book (the themes are strikingly different), but it simply isn't a very good film. The plot is so disjointed that if I hadn't read the book, I'd have had a difficult time following the story.
annesion on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because i saw the movie and thought I would enjoy it. I didn't. I found that the storyline did not hold my interest. The Quietus, the Omegas, and the general state of decline in Britain seemed too contrived and not very interesting. None of the characters were particularly engaging for me. I found the movie adaptation to be very different from the book. I actually rate this book as not as good as the movie, which I have only done on two other occasions.
Zathras86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up on a whim because I had seen the movie and had also enjoyed some of the author's mystery novels in the past. I was surprised by how completely different the book was, but in a good way. I appreciated the artistic value of the film but didn't necessarily have a good time watching it, while I actually enjoyed the process of reading the book.PD James is generally a very bleak writer and she effectively creates for us a dystopian Britain with no children and no hope of a ...moreI picked this up on a whim because I had seen the movie and had also enjoyed some of the author's mystery novels in the past. I was surprised by how completely different the book was, but in a good way. I appreciated the artistic value of the film but didn't necessarily have a good time watching it, while I actually enjoyed the process of reading the book.PD James is generally a very bleak writer and she effectively creates for us a dystopian Britain with no children and no hope of a future. The book is character-driven and the plot moves slowly, but I found it a fascinating exploration of human nature. The switches between first-person entries in Theo's diary and third-person narration were for the most part very smooth. Theo is an interesting narrator, very self-aware in acknowledging his many personal failings as such but also rather depressingly resigned to them.Different and thought-provoking.
CBJames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Children of Men by P.D. James (No relation) is the story of a dystopian earth, set 25 years since the human race stopped giving birth. Like most good dystopian fiction The Children of Men gets to the big picture by focusing on the small one, the individual. In this case Theo, a 50 something university professor and cousin of the Warden of England who rules a dying society with an iron hand. Theo has taught his last real student as have all teachers, all day care center, all Sunday schools. Now he holds a few classes in Victorian history for a dwindling number of bored middle aged women, all looking to fill the emptiness in their lives that children once filled.During the first half of the book, Omega, James shows us what the world would be like without children. Through Theo's first person narrative and several chapters of third person narration, we see the complete structure of James's dystopian future. This sort of speculation is what makes dystopian fiction, and utopian fiction, fun. Just what would people do in this situation? Toy makers, of course, go out of business, except for doll makers who enjoy a boom in business selling very realistic dolls to the childless who push them around public parks in prams pretending the dolls are real. This trend does not last long though. Others become obsessed with raising cats, which they take into abandoned churches to christen as though they were children. The last generation of children, the Omegas, are practically worshipped as gods and grow up to be uncaring, unfeeling devils. Since there are no children to pass anything on to, there is little motive to preserve history and not much reason to work at all beyond keeping ones self alive. The Warden of England has been voted into office to keep crime at bay, to protect the people; no one is concerned that their own civil liberties have been sacrificed.Except for a handful of rebels. Halfway through the novel, Theo is approached by a former student who asks him to meet with his cousin and to state their case to him. They want an end to forced fertility testing, to the use of foreign labor, to the penal colony of the Isle of Man and a return to democratic elections. Theo agrees but finds his cousin unwilling to change anything. In the second section of the book, Alpha, Theo discovers that one of the rebels is pregnant. Because her baby will be the first one in a quarter century, the rebels believe that the Warden will seize her in order to use the baby to increase his hold on England and extend his power into the rest of the world. The mother-to-be, Julian, wants her baby to be born free, free of the Warden, free of prying doctors, free of the state police. Theo joins the rebels as the try to escape the city and the state police in order to find a safe place for the baby to be born. The Children of Men is a fascinating, tautly written thriller. The first section of the book, while really more of a speculative travelogue, is filled with suspense. Theo has secrets of his own that are revealed to the reader as he writes his journal and as he goes deeper into the rebellion against the state his cousin controls. The second half is a more traditional thriller, filled with escapes and near escapes, betrayals and plots, that keep the reader glued to the page. Throughout the book there is a humanity that lifts the story above its genre. A childless future is frightening to contemplate, but it gets at certain primal feelings, primal fears; it's one of those things that seem like one has always thought of but never thought of. Dystopian, just like utopian fiction, must be read as either a warning or a parable, the readers must interpret meaning for themselves. The Children of Men may mean different things to different readers, but it's a book that stays with the reader, long after the last page has been read.