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The End of Men

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Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would life truly look like without men? Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all. The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland--a lethal illness that seems t Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would life truly look like without men? Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all. The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland--a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic--and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien--a women's world. What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus's consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague; intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal--the loss of husbands and sons--to the political--the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family. In The End of Men, Christina Sweeney-Baird creates an unforgettable tale of loss, resilience and hope.


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Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would life truly look like without men? Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all. The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland--a lethal illness that seems t Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would life truly look like without men? Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all. The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland--a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic--and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien--a women's world. What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus's consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague; intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal--the loss of husbands and sons--to the political--the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family. In The End of Men, Christina Sweeney-Baird creates an unforgettable tale of loss, resilience and hope.

30 review for The End of Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    I'll read it for the title alone. I'll read it for the title alone.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christina Sweeney-Baird

    Did I give my own book 5 stars? That would be a yes. But I promise you itโ€™s a very good book. It has everything you could want: ๐Ÿ˜ฆ a gripping thriller โค๏ธ heart-wrenching relationships and loss โœจbubbles of humour ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผโ€โš•๏ธstrong, wry, determined characters ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฝโ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผ and an exploration of gender and its impact on the world, through the lens of speculative fiction as a deadly plague quickly wipes out 90% of the worldโ€™s male population leaving women, and some men, to adapt, cope, survive their losses and res Did I give my own book 5 stars? That would be a yes. But I promise you itโ€™s a very good book. It has everything you could want: ๐Ÿ˜ฆ a gripping thriller โค๏ธ heart-wrenching relationships and loss โœจbubbles of humour ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผโ€โš•๏ธstrong, wry, determined characters ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฝโ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผ and an exploration of gender and its impact on the world, through the lens of speculative fiction as a deadly plague quickly wipes out 90% of the worldโ€™s male population leaving women, and some men, to adapt, cope, survive their losses and restructure the world in a different way from dating to childcare to hospitals to Parliament to industry to agriculture. What would change? What would stay the same? โญ๏ธ โญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธ from an (admittedly) incredibly biased observer (but if you canโ€™t give your own book 5 stars, who can?)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    Review to be posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Wholly and Completely Brilliant. Yes, I read a book about a Pandemic in a Pandemic. Some would say thatโ€™s in poor taste, and yet, I couldnโ€™t resist. I am not one to shy away from difficult topics and frankly, โ€œThe End of Menโ€ is brilliantly written, brilliantly plotted, and gave me a lot to think about given the state of things. For me, this showcased how much that has gone on in our world relating to how things were handled (i Review to be posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Wholly and Completely Brilliant. Yes, I read a book about a Pandemic in a Pandemic. Some would say thatโ€™s in poor taste, and yet, I couldnโ€™t resist. I am not one to shy away from difficult topics and frankly, โ€œThe End of Menโ€ is brilliantly written, brilliantly plotted, and gave me a lot to think about given the state of things. For me, this showcased how much that has gone on in our world relating to how things were handled (in real life) compared to how they were handled in the book (which was written before our pandemic hit - though it isn't being released till now). The year is 2025 during which time a virus breaks out at an A and E in Scotland. The virus impacts only men. When a man is admitted, he arrives with what appears to be symptoms of the flu. Three hours later, he is gone. Shortly thereafter, several more men lose their lives the same way. All of these men were in the A and E two days prior. Dr. Amanda McLean is a doctor in the A&E who immediately notices the trend and reports it to HPS to no avail. She is deemed a stark raving lunatic by her peers at HPS and her messages are ignored. And so it begins. An Outbreak of Epic Proportions. Once it starts, entire families stay home. Women, men, children. Yet this virus does not discriminate. If you are of the male species, you are at risk, unless you are immune. Amanda McLean will not rest until she is taken seriously and until she does everything she can to help. There is Catherine, who after facing a devastating loss, compiles stories of families who have also suffered. There are Elizabeth in the UK and Lisa in Canada, both of whom are scientists and who work to find a vaccine. There is Toby, who is currently on a boat off the coast of Iceland with his identical twin Mark, hoping to stay alive. These characters and their stories will stay with me. Heartbreaking, yet hopeful at the same time, these characters were a great reminder that we must take stock in each other and be there for each other during these incredibly tough times. The analysis behind how scientists in this book discovered that the male plague impacted only men (with women being carriers) and why some men were immune was truly fascinating, as was how long it took for a vaccine to be discovered. That alone gave me pause considering where we are at in the world, with this pandemic. It also made me extremely thankful. I just received the second dose of the vaccine and am so very grateful. All in all, โ€œThe End of Menโ€ gave me a lot to ponder. The storyline was extremely well done as was the character development. I truly enjoyed getting to know all of the characters (even though there were a lot to keep track of) and will not forget them anytime soon. Reading this now, made me appreciate life that much more and it gave me a lot of perspective. I have to give kudos to the author for an incredible accomplishment. This is brilliant, character-driven fiction at its finest. This book will most certainly be on my Goodreads Best-of-List for 2021. Thank you to Cassie at Putnam Books/GP Putnamโ€™s Sons for the arc via NetGalley. Posted on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nic

    I was really intrigued by the premise of this book: what would happen if there was a virus that wiped out much of the male population? The author makes it clear that the book was drafted before the outbreak of Covid-19 however many readers will find it hard not to draw parallels when the real virus has a higher rate of severe illness and mortality in the male population than females. In a way, I think it is unfortunate for the author that the global pandemic hit as she was writing this book as t I was really intrigued by the premise of this book: what would happen if there was a virus that wiped out much of the male population? The author makes it clear that the book was drafted before the outbreak of Covid-19 however many readers will find it hard not to draw parallels when the real virus has a higher rate of severe illness and mortality in the male population than females. In a way, I think it is unfortunate for the author that the global pandemic hit as she was writing this book as the general population will be more aware of the science of virology and genetics than previously. My background is in physics so my biology knowledge is not the strongest however I found myself puzzling over one character's explanation of why it appeared to take 135 days (p160) for scientists to be able to explain that the vulnerability of males to the virus was related to the fact that they only had one X chromosome. The character then went on to use male twins to explain why only 10% of the male population is immune and claiming it was "Basic genetic logic." (p162) I hold my hands up to not being a geneticist but if "the Plague requires the absence of a specific gene sequence...present in the X chromosome" and only "9 percent of men" have the necessary protection, this implies that each X chromosome has a 9% chance of creating immunity. For women, this probability does not increase to 100% because they have two X chromosomes. If the above 9% is true then I would assume that the immunity rate for women is double (as you only need one correct copy). As all women were immune it would have made more sense for the vulnerability to have been coded into the Y chromosome with only 9% of Y chromosomes conferring resistance. This theory is undermined by the explanation of finding that "identical twins were both immune but their father was not [and a] set of male fraternal twins has an immune father but only one of the twins was immune". This, unfortunately, wasn't the least of my science-based confusion. I could perhaps go along with the A&E doctor who was ignored (presumably for being a hysterical woman) at the beginning of the pandemic but much of the early part of the book implied that despite the fact men were dying in ever-increasing numbers, the pandemic wasn't taken seriously. There are numerous papers etc that discuss the fact that historically the medical community has focussed predominantly on health concerns that disproportionately affect men. For a modern-day comparison, one could point to the immediate interest in treating 'Long Covid' compared to the response to the arguably similar conditions ME/CFS which predominantly affect women. Towards the end of the book, there is a brief reference to advances in the treatment of endometriosis etc however this seems poorly extrapolated to the global response throughout the novel. I was also surprised that the author thought it likely that the source of the pandemic would have been sought out by the same A&E doctor a long while later. Here again, the author is likely to be scuppered by the public's unprecedented access to information on a global pandemic. Genetic sequencing of the virus usually gives researchers an idea of what species the virus mutated from even if Patient Zero is never identified and it is one of the first things that researchers will look at. The final section imagines how the world would be once a vaccine was created and I found this equally bemusing. Perhaps I am alone here but if only 10% of the male population was left, I find it hard to believe that there would just be a "lottery" or another system for women to have a form of IVF without some form of compulsory sperm donation program? Maybe I missed that part but I would have thought a priority would have been acquiring adequate sperm to repopulate which may have lead to potential human rights infringement protests from males who wanted to retain choice. It was unclear to me why only China would have split into 12 independent states and the Moldovan women would have chosen to imprison all the remaining males for participating in sex trafficking (this seemed particularly broad sweeping). Instead, those with traditional families and immune husbands seemed to carry on as though nothing had changed whilst the risk of population collapse lingered. It also came across that many women were happy to switch to single-sex relationships, as though sexual preference/orientation is purely a product of your environment. If this plotline had been switched to imply the remaining gay men became heterosexual, would there possibly be more raised eyebrows? Ignoring these scientific logic flaws, my biggest gripe with the novel is probably that even though the author attempted to tell the story of the pandemic from a large cast of characters' perspectives, they all ended up sounding very similar. This meant that I was constantly having to try to remind myself which character was which even though the names and cities were listed at the beginning of each chapter. As far as I remember, there was one male character perspective and the rest were females that seemed to be from very similar socioeconomic backgrounds. I felt as though the women were also of similar ages with a heavy emphasis on how desperate these women are to have children. There lacked the nuance of the perspectives of straight women who chose not to have children for example. I did read to the end but I think this novel can be summed up as "not for me".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    Dr Amanda MacLean in a Glasgow hospital treats a male patient presenting with flu whose body suddenly shuts down. She investigates and realises patient zero came in from Bute a few days earlier .... this starts The Plague of 2025 which only kills men. The story is told via multiple points of view worldwide. Yes, itโ€™s another pandemic novel and a debut! I really like the format of the book, although there are a lot of characters it clearly shows the dramatic escalation into fear and chaos that th Dr Amanda MacLean in a Glasgow hospital treats a male patient presenting with flu whose body suddenly shuts down. She investigates and realises patient zero came in from Bute a few days earlier .... this starts The Plague of 2025 which only kills men. The story is told via multiple points of view worldwide. Yes, itโ€™s another pandemic novel and a debut! I really like the format of the book, although there are a lot of characters it clearly shows the dramatic escalation into fear and chaos that this pandemic brings across the continents. This is a four horseman of the apocalypse, epically biblical crisis in scale with the first half showing the horrifying stages of the pandemic and the second depicting the fallout and survival via a vaccine. There are some very good characters especially Amanda who is dogged and intuitive and I also have a particular liking for Dawn, the sixty something civil servant working in British Intelligence whose wry humour is a welcome relief. The novel is extremely well written and the style engaging. It clearly shows the devastating and overwhelming pain and sadness of loss, itโ€™s moving and poignant as it humanises the victims otherwise itโ€™s numbers of such enormity your brain cannot compute. Some characters are very reflective especially on life pre-pandemic which is heartbreaking. The impact worldwide is interesting as woman have to fill roles from refuse collectors to soldiers to world leaders. Especially thought provoking is the drastic action some countries take to protect male babies and how sperm is allocated to ensure the populations future. I like the end as it reinforces the importance of love and remembrance and putting a face to those that are gone but not forgotten. Overall, yes, this is a devil rides out scenario but itโ€™s also very intriguing, extremely well written and does make you reflect on whatโ€™s important as we go through this pandemic. With thanks to Harper Collins UK/Harper Fiction for the arc for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mina

    I mean couldn't we have gotten this pandemic instead of Covid-19?? JK OOP๐Ÿ˜… Top tier Ms Sweeney!!! Great Debut! 4 Stars to you for effectively doing what the movement has been trying to do for years- BRINGING DOWN THE PATRIARCHY!! I have no idea where to begin with this incredibly well written book. A book that griped me by its title alone when I first heard of it and later captivated from the minute I started it. When I first read the blurb of The End of Men I was intrigued! I mean who wouldn't I mean couldn't we have gotten this pandemic instead of Covid-19?? JK OOP๐Ÿ˜… Top tier Ms Sweeney!!! Great Debut! 4 Stars to you for effectively doing what the movement has been trying to do for years- BRINGING DOWN THE PATRIARCHY!! I have no idea where to begin with this incredibly well written book. A book that griped me by its title alone when I first heard of it and later captivated from the minute I started it. When I first read the blurb of The End of Men I was intrigued! I mean who wouldn't be? Imagine a world completely free of 'The Other Gender' Wow. Reminds me of a time when a similar question was posed on Twitter- ''Imagine for 24hrs there were no men in the world, what would/could you do with your day?'' and ladies went wild with responses. -Go running at night without fear of creeps -Stop living in fear -Walk around naked (This was a pretty common response, still a misdemeanor ladies lol) -Dance freely at the club -Finish sentences!!!!!!! -Get promoted (Maybe not in a day, but I got the gist of it) The list was honestly endless and I related to all of them... Because let's face it, we live in a Man's world no matter how many strides we make in our plight of equality. โ€˜The world is closing downโ€™ Sounds familiar? Covid19 anybody, I remember being holed up in my studio wishing desperately that I could be back home in Kenya with my family. I had this anxiety of dying alone and no one would find my body until it was too late. I used to facetime my mom before I go to bed and make her watch me sleep just because I wanted her presence with me. (Weird I know...!!) โ€˜I have never felt so powerful. This must be what men used to feel like. My mere physical presence is enough to terrify someone into running. No wonder they used to get drunk on it.โ€™ Who run the world?? Girls!! I'm not gonna lie the feminist aspect to this fictional pandemic was appealing. I'm not going to apologize for that, I mean it sucks that all their sons, husbands/boyfriends, dads and male friends died but WOW, finally they were at the top of the food chain, calling the shots! Hells YEAH!!!! I'd say finally the universe snapped and decided to cleanse itself.. THE PATRIARCHY HAS FALLEN!! ๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿ™Š 'Turns out, one of the best way to fulfil the career dreams of your 25yr old self barely dared to imagine is to be a woman during the plague' We saw women train to get drafted in the army, women in politics coming up with policies that we only ever dream of being effected, women who previously were deemed incapable taking up multiple jobs performed by men and doing it competently and even better! Back to the real world though, I know I will have to work 100x harder to prove myself worthy of that dream job and even if I do get it, I'm going to take home probably 30% less compared to my male counterpart in a similar position. I breezed through this one honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed it though it sort of had a lag in the middle due to the very many characters POVs. I would have wished for the author to stick to just a couple of the key characters that I formed some semblance of attachment to like Catherine, Amanda, Dawn and Elizabeth. But hey, I seriously have zero complaints. Though my MVP was Frances, talk about loving someone so truly and fiercely you would go to the ends of the earth to ensure their survival. Also how amazing is it that the author came up with the concept and the draft for this book in 2018 and then boom! Were hit with a goddamned pandemic, I would've the freaked the fuck out beloveds! I can't wait to read more of Ms Sweeney-Baird's books!

  7. 4 out of 5

    jennyโœจ

    Look how far weโ€™ve come, I think to myself. Look how we have survived. Iโ€™ve noticed a couple titles in the last year or so whose storylines centre the absence/nonexistence of men (e.g., Afterland, The Mercies). Naturally, I was very intrigued at such a premise. The End of Men is my first foray into this trope. This novel chronicles the fictional events of 2025โ€“2031 as a virulent pandemic sweeps across the world and decimates the male population. We follow over a dozen interweaving POVs, each i Look how far weโ€™ve come, I think to myself. Look how we have survived. Iโ€™ve noticed a couple titles in the last year or so whose storylines centre the absence/nonexistence of men (e.g., Afterland, The Mercies). Naturally, I was very intrigued at such a premise. The End of Men is my first foray into this trope. This novel chronicles the fictional events of 2025โ€“2031 as a virulent pandemic sweeps across the world and decimates the male population. We follow over a dozen interweaving POVs, each illustrating how the world reels and comes to terms in all its realmsโ€”in love, economics, politics, medicine; we watch as this world rebuilds. I thought it would be draining to read a book about a pandemic, but the opposite actually occurredโ€”I got a glimpse into an even more terrifying, dystopic reality. I was able to say, โ€œThings are bad right now, but at least theyโ€™re not this bad.โ€ This being the Male Plague, with its 90% mortality rate, its ability to stay alive on surfaces for 36+ hours, its rapid spread (1.8x that of HIV). Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. โ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธ The best word I have for this book is scattered. Itโ€™s a quality that both enhances and detracts from the novel. How do the scattered POVs detract from the story? The End of Men switches dizzyingly between more than a dozen charactersโ€™ POVs. For most of the book, each characterโ€™s voice felt vaguely the same; it became difficult to keep track of who was who, where, doing what. I took to actually writing down charactersโ€™ names and defining features to differentiate between them. Unexpectedly though, as the book progressed and the individual storylines interwoveโ€”with a recurrent focus on Amandaโ€™s and Catherineโ€™s plotsโ€”I found myself appreciating the diversity of perspectives. I liked how they eventually dovetailed and allowed the reader to track disparate experiences of the Male Plague. Catherine is a social anthropologist who grapples with infertility both before and after the onset of the pandemic; as she mourns her loving husband and young son, she sets out to record stories of the Plague. Amanda is an A&E doctor in Glasgow (in the Independent Republic of Scotland) who discovers the Plagueโ€™s existenceโ€”and is gaslit for trying to alert the world to its devastation. Lisa is a professor of virology at the University of Toronto and eventual creator of the long-awaited, life-changing vaccineโ€”only, she has decided to monetize its release. Elizabeth is a junior CDC virologist who travels to London to help with vaccine development; to her surprise, she finds love in a world that seems devoid of it. Dawn works at the British Intelligence Services, one of the few Black women employed; she moves her way up the ranks, and through her POV we see the economic and political impacts of the Plague. Thereโ€™s also Rosamie, a Filipina nanny for a wealthy Singaporean nanny; Toby, a 60yo English man who becomes stranded on a cruise ship off Iceland; Morven, a Scottish woman who runs a hostel that is forced to take in dozens of orphaned boys; and many more. Sound confusing? Not gonna lie, it was. How do the scattered POVs enhance the story? At the same time, I found it fascinating to see the distinct ways in which the Plague, the loss of 90% of all men, reshaped the world. This was made possible by the panoply of POVs. There is a scramble to rebuild the workforce, especially in professions formerly dominated by men; women find themselves at the helm of garbage collecting, electrical repair, army service, policy-making, global leadership. Elections are dominated by women; Canada has its first (full-term) female prime minister. There is immense political upheaval. For example, China has dissolved into twelve democratic states because the male-dominated army and Communist Party was ravaged, allowing rebel parties to take charge of governance. There are difficult decisions to be made about childbearingโ€”for example, how to best protect male infants from viral exposure? New Zealand decides that, for the safety of he newborn boys, they will non-consensually remove babies from their mothers. The Plague also necessarily has ramifications for romance and sexuality, including the smash-hit success of a dating app exclusively for women meeting women; many women deciding not to date; the devastation to queer communities, gay and trans folk especially. โ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธ The last thing Iโ€™ll mention about this book is that I didnโ€™t really jibe with the writing style. The prose in this book isnโ€™t particularly artful or eloquent, rather favouring sentences that are curt and clipped and overly to-the-point. As its name implies, there isnโ€™t much subtlety in The End of Menโ€”not the prose, not the premise. At times I was left with the distinct impression that the brevity of the sentences did not fit the scale of tragedy they described. Other times I had to suppress a laugh at the absurdity. Take this description of a fictional and devastating riot at the San Francisco airport, for example: My colleague Andrew arrives and shoots the second shooter in the arm. I get ahold of myself, get off the floor and shoot the first shooter in the shoulder. At the same time, Andrew shoots him in the head. The full passage uses โ€œshootโ€ (or some related word like โ€œshooterโ€) thirteen times. The effect is ABSURD. There is none of the horror, the calamity, that should accompany sniper activity at the airport. Instead, I wanted to laugh. I shoot the shooter. You shoot the shooter. The shooter shoots. The book also features several news articles penned by a character by the name of Maria Ferreira. Sheโ€™s described as the Washington Postโ€™s former science editor, a woman who was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prizeโ€”and yet her writing made me cringe; itโ€™s devoid of lyricism, eloquence, impact. The writing in these news articles was so simple, so heavy-handed, as to feel immature. (It doesnโ€™t help that Iโ€™ve just finished a phenom book by Lulu Miller, a science writer for NPR, whose quick turns of phrase and clever, vivid prose put The End of Men to shame. Not really a great comparison.) โ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธโ—ป๏ธ BOTTOM LINE: I wasnโ€™t particularly impressed with the prose (or science) in The End of Men, but if you can acclimate to the dizzying swirl of character POVs, youโ€™ll be rewarded with an interesting exploration into a post-pandemic world without men.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book has the dubious honour of being the recipient of my first ever Goodreads review. And let me tell you, itโ€™s not a positive one. I bought it as a new release from Waterstones as a treat after nights and I resent the ยฃ15 I paid for it. I love dystopian fiction and the premise of this book sounded fascinating, as well as timely. However, this book is unfortunately ill-researched and will likely be unreadable to anyone with a scientific or medical background. We are asked to believe that on This book has the dubious honour of being the recipient of my first ever Goodreads review. And let me tell you, itโ€™s not a positive one. I bought it as a new release from Waterstones as a treat after nights and I resent the ยฃ15 I paid for it. I love dystopian fiction and the premise of this book sounded fascinating, as well as timely. However, this book is unfortunately ill-researched and will likely be unreadable to anyone with a scientific or medical background. We are asked to believe that one of the main characters is an A&E consultant. However, she describes a temperature of 38.8c as โ€œbarely elevatedโ€ (spoiler: thatโ€™s actually really quite high for an adult); a matron is busy delivering clinical care in A&E; shocks during resuscitation are delivered with โ€œpaddlesโ€ (not for 20+ years, my friend) and the consultant claims to have โ€œnever seen a caseโ€ of MRSA (absolutely ludicrous, Iโ€™m a junior doctor and have seen a fair few cases), which is depicted as some untreatable illness, when actually your average local hospital probably has at least one patient on long-term antibiotics for MRSA. I could forgive the odd implausibility but this novel reads like someoneโ€™s watched a couple of episodes of Casualty and decided theyโ€™re true to life. Iโ€™m astounded itโ€™s obviously not had any input or editing by a healthcare professional given its subject matter. Unfortunately, I could not suspend my disbelief to anywhere near the extent required and have given it away to the charity shop without finishing. I see that the author is a lawyer at a Magic Circle firm. As a doctor, I wouldnโ€™t attempt to write a pithy legal thriller and publish it without any input from someone who knows how that environment works. Iโ€™m astounded such an aggressively advertised release (you donโ€™t get your book displayed at the entrance of Waterstones and stocked in Tesco as a debut novelist readily) wasnโ€™t much better researched and edited. A real waste of an interesting idea.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    4.5 rounded up to 5 CW: (view spoiler)[suicidal ideation/thoughts/non-described actual suicides, detailed scenes of grief, loss of loved ones, medical descriptions of deaths (hide spoiler)] Well I am shooketh! I enjoyed this one so much and found it 'unputdownable' and so absorbing! I was really invested in what was happening despite the story jumping from POV to POV so frequently. I absolutely loved that it looked at what might happen if there was a situation where the current global gender balanc 4.5 rounded up to 5 CW: (view spoiler)[suicidal ideation/thoughts/non-described actual suicides, detailed scenes of grief, loss of loved ones, medical descriptions of deaths (hide spoiler)] Well I am shooketh! I enjoyed this one so much and found it 'unputdownable' and so absorbing! I was really invested in what was happening despite the story jumping from POV to POV so frequently. I absolutely loved that it looked at what might happen if there was a situation where the current global gender balance changed. A fascinating take on how we as a society would evolve under these circumstances. This most definitely would only be appropriate for NZ Y12 experienced Readers and above. I will be thinking about this one for ages!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    I want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this amazing book of speculative fiction. Its author wrote this brilliant, thought-provoking debut in pre-COVID days during 2018 and 2019 from a vivid imagination and research. Little did she know that by the time her book was ready for publication, that we would be experiencing a true pandemic of death, hospitalizations, lockdowns, distancing and mask-wearing. At the time of writing my review, Canada is undergoing the worst spike in I want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this amazing book of speculative fiction. Its author wrote this brilliant, thought-provoking debut in pre-COVID days during 2018 and 2019 from a vivid imagination and research. Little did she know that by the time her book was ready for publication, that we would be experiencing a true pandemic of death, hospitalizations, lockdowns, distancing and mask-wearing. At the time of writing my review, Canada is undergoing the worst spike in cases since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, with new fearsome variations becoming widespread. Since we have to import all vaccines, there is a slow rollout and locally up to 4 months wait for a second vaccine. It was ironic that in the book, the first vaccine was invented by a female scientist in Canada wanting great wealth and glory from selling her vaccine to the government and then worldwide. The events and emotions the author describes in this book seem very believable and frightening. I can't speak for the science involved that is well explained for the reader. With the rapidly mutating and increasing variations of concern, I had to wonder if a gender-specific strain could be possible. The author speaks of a near-future time in 2025 when a lethal disease starts in the Republic of Scotland and is deadly only for men and boys. Everyone becomes a carrier, and it spreads rapidly to other nations and continents with devastating results. Only about 10% of males are immune. For the others, death rapidly follows the infection. Dr. Amanda MacLean, working in a hospital in Glasgow, futility treats the first patient (Patient Zero) and soon realizes other men are exhibiting the same symptoms. She reports her belief that she has witnessed the beginning of a plague, but her concerns are dismissed as hysteria and ignored. As death and chaos spread globally, we are taken on a journey into the hearts and minds of various individuals worldwide as they cope with profound loss and grief, the necessity of restoring some social order, and the difficulty of rapidly producing an effective vaccine. The resulting loss of men and boys profoundly affects women and girls left behind and on society and nations. It challenges ethics, morality, fertility issues, and the meaning of family. Women now are needed to fill mens' jobs in government, manual labour, technology, the military, medical and scientific fields, etc. There are experiments to seize baby boys at birth and isolate them in hopes they can be saved, and older boys not yet displaying symptoms are placed in remote areas to survive the pandemic. Women wanting to bear a child have been told they are to be chosen by lottery for artificial medical insemination, but many hopes are dashed. It is a lie, as the government is actually determining their selection by socio-economic status, age, and health and not by chance. The scarcity of men leads to an online dating site for women to meet other women. Food is rationed, and there are arguments about whether junk food and sweets be included for the comfort they bring. After the vaccine is introduced, people can once again travel when their country is 99.9% vaccinated, and their destination is the same number vaccinated. Many countries do not meet this qualification. China has fractured into several different states, many democratic and run by women. Terrorist organizations no longer inspire fear since the male terrorists are gone. I did find this a slow read because it was told from the experiences and emotions of numerous people across the planet. I thought this slowed down the narrative and detracted somewhat from the flow of the story. I can understand the reason for this, but it made the plot feel disjointed. I wondered if the narrative concentrated on several key characters, it would be a shorter, smoother read. It might have increased my emotional involvement and made it feel that it progressed at a faster pace. Nevertheless, this was a stunning, thought-provoking novel, and I hope we never experience anything like this in real life. It is a book I will long remember. The author has written an amazing first book, and I hope that she writes more novels, and I would definitely read them. 3.5 stars raised to 4.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Even though this wasnโ€™t one of the best books Iโ€™ve read this year, it was a really good book for me to read right now. This year has pulled me in and out of reading slumps a few times and a fast, easy, engaging read like The End of Men was exactly what I needed. Although it might seem counterintuitive that a book about a fictional global pandemic would perk me up during an actual global pandemic Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Even though this wasnโ€™t one of the best books Iโ€™ve read this year, it was a really good book for me to read right now. This year has pulled me in and out of reading slumps a few times and a fast, easy, engaging read like The End of Men was exactly what I needed. Although it might seem counterintuitive that a book about a fictional global pandemic would perk me up during an actual global pandemic, strangely enough, thatโ€™s exactly what happened. The End of Men invites comparison to two of my favorite apocalyptic novels, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and World War Z, both of which I read (or reread) this year, so they were fresh in my mind reading this one. From its blurb, The End of Men seems like it will be Unnamed Midwife in reverse: Instead of a plague that kills women and children, it tells the story of a plague that kills only men. And its multiple first-person narratives immediately reminded me of World War Z. These comparisons were probably what doomed this book to a middling three-star rating for me; it just couldnโ€™t compete. Unnamed Midwifeโ€™s greatest strength is its protagonist. By comparison, The End of Men features many different point-of-view characters, most of them women, a few of whom are more central than the rest. Most were good, memorable characters, but no single character was the sole focus of the book and so I lacked that strong connection. I also didnโ€™t feel like The End of Menโ€™s exploration of feminist issues was nearly as well done as Unnamed Midwife. On the other hand, World War Z has just as many characters as The End of Men, but instead of having their stories chopped up into many short chapters, as in The End of Men, most were told all at once in what read like a collection of connected short stories. Additionally, the different stories in World War Z represented the most exciting, most emotional, or most memorable part of each characterโ€™s experience, whereas most of the chapters in The End of Men read like slices of life during a pandemic, although there were some exceptions. This book would have had more potential as a four- or five-star read if Christina Sweeney-Baird had focused on the one or two characters with the strongest narratives, which in my opinion are Catherine and Amanda. Their stories were more emotional and introspective โ€“ Catherineโ€™s brought me to tears โ€“ and told two very different perspectives, one of an ordinary woman who is profoundly affected by the Plague and the other of a doctor who was there when the Plague began. My final complaint, a more minor problem that nonetheless took me right out of the story, is with the fictional news articles Sweeney-Baird scatters throughout the novel. If you need any proof that thereโ€™s a big difference between writing fiction and writing the news, look no further. Sweeney-Baird wrote an engaging and enjoyable novel here, but she doesnโ€™t know how to write a news article. The ones she included werenโ€™t at all realistic, even to someone like me with no background in journalism. (I also donโ€™t think some of the science and medicine in this book was very accurate but I am even less qualified to talk about that.) Despite all my criticisms and unfavorable comparisons, I wouldnโ€™t call this a bad book. It was fast-paced, although the ending did drag on a bit, and tough to put down. And there were shining moments even outside Catherine and Amandaโ€™s chapters. There were some especially memorable minor characters: Morven, a Scottish former hostel owner; Rosamie, a Filipino nanny; Helen, a mother of three girls; and Lisa, a virology professor. The parts about governments figuring out ways to cope with the effects of the Plague were really interesting to me. If youโ€™re considering reading this one, I say give it a shot.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Audrey H.

    Sweeny-Baird has tried to paint a world where a male-specific Plague has ravaged the world, killing ~90% of the male population. Sounds interesting; I wasnโ€™t sure if this was going to be more social commentary or thriller, and turns out it does neither because it's so bad. Thereโ€™s are sooooooo many places you could go with this plot line, and unfortunately the author has decided to focus on multiple middle aged, highly educated women with children that spend the entire book pining about their dea Sweeny-Baird has tried to paint a world where a male-specific Plague has ravaged the world, killing ~90% of the male population. Sounds interesting; I wasnโ€™t sure if this was going to be more social commentary or thriller, and turns out it does neither because it's so bad. Thereโ€™s are sooooooo many places you could go with this plot line, and unfortunately the author has decided to focus on multiple middle aged, highly educated women with children that spend the entire book pining about their dead sons and husbands. Bechel test, who? What about women that donโ€™t live in the UK, USA or Canada (thereโ€™s one Russian and two Malay chapters out of ~seventy chapters; the majority of the rest are middle aged white women). Does South America or Africa or the rest of Asia even exist? What about the viewpoint of female children, what about poorer families, what about a POV from a world leader? Why is China the only country to have a civil war and not any other country? What happens to the economy with men dying? How does faith and religion change? Do societies come together or fracture? What happens to people in the middle of school? What happens to the environment? Iโ€™d have liked chapters from the POV of dying men. Why do I have to listen to a few women wax poetic about their young sons and perfect, loving, sweet, generous, gorgeous, strong, daring husbands for 400 pages? If a character study was the goal, then the author should have stuck with a single POV narrator and not switched between ~20 characters with such short chapters. There were also many smaller things that didnโ€™t add up to me, and added to the reading frustration. - In the second chapter an ER doctor realizes she has a plague on her hands after eight patients. Seems quick to assume. - A Canadian virologist professor (top of her field; ends up making the vaccine) doesnโ€™t hear about the Plague until 5k men have died in the UK. Donโ€™t you think she would have heard about it earlier? The author also paints this character ridiculously. When she discovers the vaccine, she says โ€œYes, I am in fact a God.โ€ I rolled my eyes. - A newspaper article in one of the chapters claims that most of America doesnโ€™t know whatโ€™s happening in the UK even though, by that point, 100,000 men have died. In our news culture? Really? CNN would have been on it after 20 deaths. - NOBODY wants to figure out the source of the Plague. Isnโ€™t that what news sources and doctors and virologists would all want to know? Guess not. Only one person thinks to look for the source, and only after more than a year into the outbreak. - I donโ€™t think the author has done any sort of scientific analysis. Her explanation for why the Plague only impacts men could have been a hypothesis an 8th grader came out with. - There is only one chapter that talks about gender and sex. There is only one other chapter that features a gay relationship, and thatโ€™s because all the men are gone and sheโ€™s lonely. - One UK woman goes out on a date to a restaurant with an immune man during the height of the pandemic. Further through the book, a government official talks about restaurants are closed and how the UK should open them so people could feel normal for a little bit. Soโ€ฆ.. which is it? There were multiple instances of these kinds of contradictions. Iโ€™ve read close to 100 books so far in 2021 and this is the one of the worst. Top three least favorite, for sure. I (regrettably) voluntarily obtained a digital version of this book free from Netgalley and Penguin Group in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: April 27, 2021 Christina Sweeney-Bairdโ€™s novel, โ€œThe End of Menโ€ had me completely riveted. To discover it was a DEBUT novel? Colour me impressed. In 2025, a mysterious plague-like illness is spreading across the globe; it seems to only affect males and very soon, sons, husbands and fathers are dying off. As the world of science scrambl Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: April 27, 2021 Christina Sweeney-Bairdโ€™s novel, โ€œThe End of Menโ€ had me completely riveted. To discover it was a DEBUT novel? Colour me impressed. In 2025, a mysterious plague-like illness is spreading across the globe; it seems to only affect males and very soon, sons, husbands and fathers are dying off. As the world of science scrambles to find a vaccine, the rest of the world waits on bated breath, while trying to put together some semblance of โ€œnormalโ€ in a world that is completely different from the one before it. โ€œThe End of Menโ€ is part (reverse) โ€œThe Handmaid's Taleโ€, part โ€œContagionโ€ and obviously, completely relevant. It is a thought-provoking novel that hits close to home in every way. Sweeney-Bairdโ€™s novel has already been optioned for a movie, and there is absolutely no questioning why. โ€œMenโ€ is not solely a story with feminist themes (although obviously they do arise) , it is a story full of loss and grief, desperation, and the human condition (both the positive and negative aspects of it) . There is no one who will read this novel, especially in these times, and not have a deep connection and emotional reaction. I found the race for the vaccines (and the self-serving quest to profit from it) to be both eerie and informative. In most disaster novels or end-of-the-world dramas, especially in movies, the story is centred in the United States, and many other countries either get occasionally mentioned or ignored completely. As a Canadian, I was impressed to see the relevant role that my countrymen (countrywoman actually) played in Sweeney-Bairdโ€™s novel (although I apologize, of course, because she was completely unlikable), so props to the author for recognizing the global effect of a pandemic, sans the Hollywood interference. โ€œMenโ€ is completely page-turning, and the ending provides the bittersweet resolution I expected. Although the subject matter is dismal and grim (so are the times we are living in, am I right?) Sweeney-Baird manages to bring a little bit of levity and hope. โ€œPerhaps recovery is too great a goal. We can never regain what we have lost and we must accept that, mourn that, grieve what cannot be and find a new way to existโ€. Sweeney-Baird says that she started this novel in 2018, pre-pandemic, and its realism is so startling and shocking, I may consider believing in fortune-telling and psychic abilities. The only thing Iโ€™m sure of is I want more from Sweeney-Baird. Hands down, the best debut novel Iโ€™ve read in a long time, and one of my all-time faves already from this year!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    Published today 29-4-21 As the author says in the Authorโ€™s Note that introduces this prescient novel (written in 2018-19) โ€œI know youโ€™re meant to live your truth through art and everything, but contracting Coronavirus was a step towards authenticity I could have done withoutโ€ The novel starts in late 2025 โ€“ a Scottish based A&E Consultant Amanda suddenly comes to the horrifying realisation that some form of highly fatal and highly deadly contagious infection (starting with โ€œPatient Zeroโ€ from the Published today 29-4-21 As the author says in the Authorโ€™s Note that introduces this prescient novel (written in 2018-19) โ€œI know youโ€™re meant to live your truth through art and everything, but contracting Coronavirus was a step towards authenticity I could have done withoutโ€ The novel starts in late 2025 โ€“ a Scottish based A&E Consultant Amanda suddenly comes to the horrifying realisation that some form of highly fatal and highly deadly contagious infection (starting with โ€œPatient Zeroโ€ from the Isle of Bute) is sweeping through those the patients (but only the male) patients visiting her hospital. Her rather panicked emails to the Scottish Health authorities are dismissed as an overreaction to a run of flu and sepsis cases. Only 5 days later the disease is being seen as โ€œThe Plagueโ€ even in London โ€“ and after 10+ days it has already killed 5000+ in England and quickly begins to sweep the world as any travel restrictions are imposed far too late. The plague affects only men โ€“ but with them its effects are terrible: 91% fatality rates after only a few days of infection (regardless of their age or ethnicity) and with a huge infection rate, made much worse by women being not just asymptomatic carriers (but being infected extremely easily and then carrying the infection seemingly indefinitely). Studying viral pandemics one of the limiting factors on them is normally the trade-off between infectivity and fatality (in simple terms a virus that kills or even severely incapacitates its hosts is destroying its transmission vectors) โ€“ and the role of women here overcomes that trade off. Efforts both to trace the cause of the male/female divide and to understand how the disease works and so develop a vaccine take time, by which point the world is effectively denuded of 90% of its men. Societal impacts are huge โ€“ women have to largely resign themselves to losing fathers, husbands, colleagues and sons and men to an almost inevitable death. Many previously male dominated jobs and areas (from refuse collection to science to politics) have to be rapidly re-imagined or restocked with a draft system on the female population. Different societies react in different ways to the need to produce and raise male children both before and after a vaccine is developed (including IVF lotteries โ€“ or effectively point scoring choices, compulsory C-sections and forced seizure of babies โ€“ boys left to see if they die, the remaining ones then taken away to safety, mandatory child rearing pools). Sexuality changes (same sex dating apps for women, convulsions to the Transgender community as differences become faultlines). And politically countries are changed โ€“ Scotland (in a rather nice Brexit analogy) picks seemingly the worse time for independence, but unlike in Brexit reaps catastrophic vaccine access results, Canada develops and aggressively licenses the only available vaccine and rapidly becomes a world power and the fall of the male dominated Communist Party leads to a series of convulsions in China which eventually breaks into 12 independent states. At times the book cannot I think make up its mind if society has undergone complete breakdown or is carrying on as largely as normal as possible (albeit with a terrible sense of loss) and I am unsure, in either event, that nuclear families with an immune husband and immune sons or daughters would be able to carry on quite so obliviously to the pain of others (or without society forcing for example mass sperm donation or some form of surrogacy). The book is written in a series of first party point of view accounts by a group of characters that include: Amanda (who remains an activist for the disease โ€“ both uncovering the slow actions that lead to its spread and tracing its origins to the smuggling of animals); Catherine โ€“ a Social Anthropologist (who partly serves the book as an example of a wife and mother of a son having to deal with the Plague and then as a documenter of the impact on other); a young American virologist who comes to the UK and ends up hugely influential; a near retirement black female and hitherto marginalised UK intelligence officer who rapidly rises through the ranks; an essay style journalist at the Washington Post who documents some of the key developments and personalities of the new era; the hugely ambitious Canadian researcher who develops the Vaccine and then demands both extreme monetary reward and recognition for making it available. Unfortunately this is not a book where it is best to dwell on either the science or on the scientific abilities of the bookโ€™s participants. The male/female divide is critical to the virusโ€™s success and of course to the very title of the book โ€“ but its mechanism rests on a rather shaky understanding of how X-Y chromosomes operate (the bookโ€™s explanation of the 91% fatality rate in men would lead I think to 83% fatality in women โ€“ not the 0% the book argues) โ€“ it is also odd that it takes 50+ days for someone to make the Y-chromosome link as a cause. It seems shall we say more than odd that hospitals cannot identify the sex of a baby until after its born (given how crucial it is) and equally so that a vaccine that is โ€œonlyโ€ 96% effective against a disease with 90% fatality is sent back for further trials. And this probably gets to one of the more interesting parts of this book โ€“ its topicality will of course ensure high publicity and sales but will also mean that readers will come to it with a far more informed and critical eye than would otherwise have been the case. But overall an interesting read which I am sure will draw a wide audience โ€“ and far from being depressing in the current time will I think make people think how much worse things could have been. My thanks to Harper Collins UK for an ARC via Net Galley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    In the year 2025 a virus emerges in a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland and itโ€™s killing off the male population. There is panic and a frenzy to find a vaccine. There is a few men who are immune and there is hope that this will help find a cure. The author wrote this book in 2018 before our current COVID-19 pandemic and it was a frightening view of a possible future. I live in Glasgow and I was amused to read that I could be living in The Independent Republic of Scotland in a few years time. Thank you t In the year 2025 a virus emerges in a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland and itโ€™s killing off the male population. There is panic and a frenzy to find a vaccine. There is a few men who are immune and there is hope that this will help find a cure. The author wrote this book in 2018 before our current COVID-19 pandemic and it was a frightening view of a possible future. I live in Glasgow and I was amused to read that I could be living in The Independent Republic of Scotland in a few years time. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    I haven't been keeping track of new releases with the same vigour as previously, but I did read an article (and of course now I don't remember where) about this book which caused me to pick it up. I've read quite a few books about what happens when one or the other gender becomes the majority in society, (e.g. The Power, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Afterland) usually with dire results for the minority but what set this one apart for me is that it is not a story where anger plays a defining I haven't been keeping track of new releases with the same vigour as previously, but I did read an article (and of course now I don't remember where) about this book which caused me to pick it up. I've read quite a few books about what happens when one or the other gender becomes the majority in society, (e.g. The Power, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Afterland) usually with dire results for the minority but what set this one apart for me is that it is not a story where anger plays a defining role for all or most of the characters. The End of Men documents through multiple first person POVs a viral pandemic which affects only men, and has a very low rate of survival or natural immunity. It definitely addresses many of the structural inequalities that favour men, but it is as much a book about grief and loss, about the necessity of change, and ultimately, about renewal. I liked the idea that happiness and fulfillment can be redefined, and the idea that at the very heart of it human beings are adaptable creatures. Since the world needs to be adapted to a population that is predominately female, there are of course going to be changes, and for many of us those changes would be welcome right now. In that way Sweeney-Baird shows us possibility. The book has several different characters, and seeing how each of them processes and adapts to disaster, loss, and change was something I found incredibly engaging. The style of the book is reminiscent of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, using short chapters all written in the first person. That particular choice can be a difficult one as it requires the writer to have enough skill to give each character a unique voice. I thought it was done quite successfully here, and gives the story a close and personal feeling even with the large cast of characters. What you get at the end is a compelling story, a grand thought experiment simplified and put into narrative form, made all the more intense coming out as it does in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has laid bare and obvious so many structural inequalities of all kinds.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*

    It's a Five Star Book of the Year for me! Itโ€™s August 2020 and Iโ€™m sat on my sofa in the searing heat. Weโ€™re in the middle of a global pandemic and Iโ€™ve attempted to read just 2 books in as many weeks and couldnโ€™t finish either of them. My concentration is at record rock bottom levels and Iโ€™m yearning for a book to take me away from this shitshow. I thought I wanted gently calming and quiet reads, but they were just not cutting it. My eyes were seeing the words, my brain was somewhere else entir It's a Five Star Book of the Year for me! Itโ€™s August 2020 and Iโ€™m sat on my sofa in the searing heat. Weโ€™re in the middle of a global pandemic and Iโ€™ve attempted to read just 2 books in as many weeks and couldnโ€™t finish either of them. My concentration is at record rock bottom levels and Iโ€™m yearning for a book to take me away from this shitshow. I thought I wanted gently calming and quiet reads, but they were just not cutting it. My eyes were seeing the words, my brain was somewhere else entirely. What I didnโ€™t realise (aah, hindsight!) was that I needed a big, powerhouse of a book to slap my brain around with, get it out of slump-mode using good old fashioned brute force. So mindless scrolling on Twitter was all I could focus on. Then it happened. I came across a very eye catching bright red ARC of a book not due out until Spring 2021. The die-cut front cover was gorgeous. The synopsis, terrifying. The End of Men would either wake up my reading with a violent shake or send it further down into blank oblivion. I was prepared to run that risk. The world around me has partly shut down and my mind was rapidly following suit. Iโ€™ve got hundreds of books to be read, but what did I do? I requested it on NetGalley of course! It seemed like a bit of a madcap idea to read about a deadly virus, Iโ€™m trying to escape the continuous doom and gloom of this world, not add to it. What the hell am I doing?! Anyway, I had my request accepted and dived straight in. Thereโ€™s a global pandemic and men are dying. Men are dead. Women are carriers, fiercely protecting their sons, watching as their husbands are savagely taken by this killer disease. The thankful ones had daughters. Only one in ten men are immune. The End of Men is in the literary fiction genre, with fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian tones that were worryingly real. โ€˜The world is closing downโ€™. It was hitting temperatures here in Hampshire, UK of 35 degrees, yet I felt chilled to the bone. Written in multiple points of view from various parts of the world, from Scotland to Singapore, from Canada, to the USA and everywhere else in between, I was able to follow every thread of this story with ease. Usually any more that two or three viewpoints throw me when Iโ€™m reading, I struggle to remember whoโ€™s voice Iโ€™m hearing. All these characters were diverse and the writing style was crystal clear. Everyoneโ€™s journey was a path I followed with ease. โ€˜Billionaires have become millionaires, the value of money has evaporated, and this city built on sexism and mans ability to play God through technology is falling apart at the seams.โ€™ At around the halfway mark, I had this niggling pain in my face. I thought I was perhaps coming down with something. (Oh no, those awful paranoid Coronavirus thoughts were creeping in!) Turns out Iโ€™d been clenching my teeth so hard whilst reading that Iโ€™d given myself a tension headache and jaw-ache! What a relief! So I took some paracetamol and carried on reading. โ€˜I have never felt so powerful. This must be what men used to feel like. My mere physical presence is enough to terrify someone into running. No wonder they used to get drunk on it.โ€™ The tables have turned. Women are the future in Sweeney-Bairdโ€™s world. Women are being relied upon to save the world, the human race. Iโ€™d say itโ€™s about time too, judging by the state of our real pandemic, maybe turf out the blokes, us girls could surely do a better job. (Iโ€™m looking at you, New Zealand!) What I wasnโ€™t expecting was how frightened I felt if we were to be without men completely. Who would remove the spiders? Reach the top shelf for the gravy granules? Clean the windows? Iโ€™m joking, obviously. Iโ€™m no Stepford Wife, (one of the books I read and thoroughly enjoyed this year by the way!) but seriously, thank goodness this was a work of fiction, albeit too close to reality for comfort at times. โ€˜Tonight, I will drink a lot of wine, something I only allow myself to do occasionally to avoid slipping into the kind of sodden, drunken grief that I can see the appeal of very clearlyโ€™. I know it sounds completely nuts, but I would say this is recommended reading for any person, man or woman, whoโ€™s life has been affected by Covid-19. So thatโ€™s EVERYONE then. Itโ€™s put our current situation into better perspective for me, thatโ€™s for sure. For the first time since March Iโ€™ve felt a little more positive and a lot more thankful because actually, things really could be a whole lot worse. โ€˜Bad things and good things can coexistโ€ฆ..โ€™ โ€˜And we have to find the good where we can.โ€™ Ladies and gentlemen, give that man in your life an enormous hug. Iโ€™d like to say a massive thank you to the author, Christina Sweeney-Baird, the publisher, Harper Fiction for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review via the NetGalley platform.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Extraordinarily prescient and profoundly thought-provoking, The End of Men is set in the near future and opens in a Glasgow hospital in 2025 with no-nonsense A & E consultant, Dr Amanda Maclean, facing worrying signs of a potentially lethal virus. As a number of men present with flu like symptoms that escalate to death within hours it is Amanda who identifies Patient Zero, suggests that the virus is lethal to males alone and yet is ignored by public health authorities. An explosion of cases see Extraordinarily prescient and profoundly thought-provoking, The End of Men is set in the near future and opens in a Glasgow hospital in 2025 with no-nonsense A & E consultant, Dr Amanda Maclean, facing worrying signs of a potentially lethal virus. As a number of men present with flu like symptoms that escalate to death within hours it is Amanda who identifies Patient Zero, suggests that the virus is lethal to males alone and yet is ignored by public health authorities. An explosion of cases see the virus become a global pandemic with previously inconceivable implications for every aspect of society. Dealing with her own personal grief as a wife and mother of two sons and yet determined to be heard and actually identify the source, Amanda is an inspirational figure. Her first-person narrative is just one of several that are followed and dominate the story along with that of an anthropology lecturer, a civil servant and one of the team engaged in the pursuit of a vaccine. There are arguably too many minor characters included in the book and it is impossible to connect with them all, however I am in awe of the scope of the novel with the author considering everything from enforced evacuations to same-sex dating and managing changes in the labour market. Yet despite the very obvious trauma and the death toll it is the characters resilience and human natureโ€™s ability to adapt that imbues the novel with a burgeoning sense of hope.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Indieflower

    A global pandemic occurs, and though women are carriers, only males are affected, 90% of whom die. I'm disappointed with this one, I was hoping for so much more. I felt the characters - in fact the entire story - lacked depth, there were so many narrators that all sounded too similar - mostly white, middle class women, married to unbelievably saintly men - I found I was constantly flipping back to check who was who. It was all very simplistic, practical problems were barely mentioned, people jus A global pandemic occurs, and though women are carriers, only males are affected, 90% of whom die. I'm disappointed with this one, I was hoping for so much more. I felt the characters - in fact the entire story - lacked depth, there were so many narrators that all sounded too similar - mostly white, middle class women, married to unbelievably saintly men - I found I was constantly flipping back to check who was who. It was all very simplistic, practical problems were barely mentioned, people just seemed to be tootling on as normal. Considering more than 50% of the workforce is male, there would initially have been really serious problems but very few of these were mentioned, only refuse collection and a shortage of tea and coffee, everything else seemed hunky dory ๐Ÿ˜•. Not to mention the superwoman A&E doctor who not only diagnosed a pandemic about 5 minutes after it began, but single handedly tracked down the original source of the infection, because seemingly no one else could be arsed ๐Ÿค”. Most of it didn't make proper sense, maybe I could've rolled with it if I'd felt emotionally connected to any of these women, but I didn't, in fact a few I could've cheerfully slapped. I was interested enough to finish it but with hindsight I probably shouldn't have bothered.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    In light of our current pandemic, I donโ€™t know why I thought it wasnโ€™t too soon to read this book about a pandemic. It was a bit uncomfortable for me to read. Set in 2025, a mysterious new virus has emerged that only affects men, women are immune. It unravels as top scientists try to find a cure and learn how to cope with the consequences it has brought upon the world. Told by women in multiple points of view, it tells how theyโ€™re handling the situation, worrying for the men and boys in their li In light of our current pandemic, I donโ€™t know why I thought it wasnโ€™t too soon to read this book about a pandemic. It was a bit uncomfortable for me to read. Set in 2025, a mysterious new virus has emerged that only affects men, women are immune. It unravels as top scientists try to find a cure and learn how to cope with the consequences it has brought upon the world. Told by women in multiple points of view, it tells how theyโ€™re handling the situation, worrying for the men and boys in their lives, and grieving those theyโ€™ve lost. Women are then left to restructure society after losing 90% of the male population. I liked how this story was broken down giving a clearer picture of the pandemic in stages. Itโ€™s compelling and timely. Eerily this book was written before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

  21. 4 out of 5

    La Tonya Jordan

    It is November of 2025 and Amanda McClean is an emergency room doctor in Glasgow, United Kingdom in Scotland where she identifies the first patient who has the plague that kills only men. This novel takes you thru the next four next years of the plague's journey around the world. It spreads quickly through Europe, Asia, America, Greenland, Africa, and all other parts of the world killing ninety percent of the men's population before a vaccine is found. A life where men become a scarcity and a ne It is November of 2025 and Amanda McClean is an emergency room doctor in Glasgow, United Kingdom in Scotland where she identifies the first patient who has the plague that kills only men. This novel takes you thru the next four next years of the plague's journey around the world. It spreads quickly through Europe, Asia, America, Greenland, Africa, and all other parts of the world killing ninety percent of the men's population before a vaccine is found. A life where men become a scarcity and a new world to vision. How does the world adjust in jobs, economies, national security, governments, policing, education, etc... becomes the bases of this novel. You read the frustrations of women who have lost their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers. How do they cope with life? How do they move on? Who do they blame? How do they get retrained in male dominate fields with few males left to train them. Some parts of the novel reads off the pages of today's newspapers regarding COVID-19. We have lived parts of these stories and characters. Too close for comfort. Quotes: What I do know, from years of reporting, is that ignorance, incompetence and fear so often go hand in hand with government that none of us should be surprised if the institutions we thought would keep us safe would in fact be woefully inadequate in the face of a pandemic. Sometimes honesty can feel like a betrayal. "Of the two hundred eighty-four boys I've helped to deliver in the last six months, twenty-nine have survived." Trans women on this side - you're all probably going to die. Trans men on that side - you're all going to be fine. "Perhaps some traumas are too overwhelming to recover from."

  22. 5 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    I have had my eye on this for a while, and it's been regularly popping up in my feed, and with the current pandemic, it seemed like the right time to throw myself into something like this. A world without men though? I took the opportunity to vision a world without men, and how we, as women would cope with this. I mean, how would we change, how well would people adapt? It raises looks of talking points. The concept of this is excellent, but it's execution, not so much. I think that when all the I have had my eye on this for a while, and it's been regularly popping up in my feed, and with the current pandemic, it seemed like the right time to throw myself into something like this. A world without men though? I took the opportunity to vision a world without men, and how we, as women would cope with this. I mean, how would we change, how well would people adapt? It raises looks of talking points. The concept of this is excellent, but it's execution, not so much. I think that when all the men are essentially dropping dead within hours around you, and you lose your Husband and son within days of each other, you're going to be a wreck, and let's face it, there needs to be emotion in the words. I felt nothing. People died, but the way in which this was written prevented me from feeling anything for the losses of the families. This could have definitely been better. The book begins with no backstory to the characters, and throughout the book, we jump constantly between various people, hearing their stories, and quite honestly, while I did enjoy some parts, before I could catch my breath, we were reading a different narrative about a woman with no real contribution to the story. I realise that multiple narratives can work, and sometimes add a lot to a story, but for me, this didn't work. I think it needed to slow down. A lot. I enjoyed the idea behind this, and parts of it were interesting, but the writing style was lacking.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    "You know, the world doesn't have to remember you for you to matter." This is so near 5 stars, especially considering that it is a debut novel. The emotional impact the story had on me outweighs some bumpy parts in the prose and a questionable scientific explanation. I read that the novel was written before the Covid-19 crisis, and in this case reality definitely has caught up with fiction. Parts of the course of the pandemic in the book sounded damn familiar. Simultaneously the story left me with "You know, the world doesn't have to remember you for you to matter." This is so near 5 stars, especially considering that it is a debut novel. The emotional impact the story had on me outweighs some bumpy parts in the prose and a questionable scientific explanation. I read that the novel was written before the Covid-19 crisis, and in this case reality definitely has caught up with fiction. Parts of the course of the pandemic in the book sounded damn familiar. Simultaneously the story left me with a somehow soothing feeling that everything could have been so much worse. The outbreak of a lethal pandemic that kills only men is narrated as mosaic via the POVs of several women. The sensitive, yet non-pathetic, writing style hit me right where it hurts. I listened to the audiobook, which was excellently done by a multi-narrator team, and I found myself today constantly looking for work and occupations where I could keep my earplugs in. Thus I literally finished it in one go.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Wiltzen

    Reading this book reminded me of the intense novel, World War Z, written by Max Brooks, and not surprisingly, the author's afterword cites the influence of his work. But as Max Brooks focused his oral history on retelling how humanity fought a plague, Christina concentrated on sharing how women might face one. It's a different take that focuses more on family and personal relationships and less on the actions and physical struggles. The story starts with Dr. Amanda Maclean, an emergency physician Reading this book reminded me of the intense novel, World War Z, written by Max Brooks, and not surprisingly, the author's afterword cites the influence of his work. But as Max Brooks focused his oral history on retelling how humanity fought a plague, Christina concentrated on sharing how women might face one. It's a different take that focuses more on family and personal relationships and less on the actions and physical struggles. The story starts with Dr. Amanda Maclean, an emergency physician in Scotland, discovering patient zero of an impeding world-altering plague that kills only men. But the crux of it is that no one initially believes her, and the potential to stop the holocaust is squandered. The author then draws the reader into a layered, intersecting multi-POV storyline that traces how various women learn to live with and tackle a plague that kills their fathers, sons, and husbands as well as male coworkers, employees, and bosses. The surviving women must face grief and pain while dealing with life's challenges and opportunities without men. Though many are emotionally wounded, most are to some degree reborn as they tackle roles they may never have dreamed of taking and are challenged in ways they haven't often been before. While the plague strips many women of their titles like wife, girlfriend, and mother, they learn to recenter their lives around their selves and a female-centric future. Interestingly, the author wrote this book before the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, it started as a thought experiment, but the overall isolation and grief she touches upon in her fictional pandemic is something we can all relate to as we endure this one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brittany (whatbritreads)

    *Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for review!* Reading this while weโ€™re how deep into the Coronavirus pandemic was a bit surreal. A lot of this hit so close to what weโ€™re experiencing now even though it was written before. Super trippy, and definitely probably not the book youโ€™re going to want to pick up if youโ€™re in the mood to escape our current problems. I really loved how this made me think about the different roles of men and women in our society and what l *Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for review!* Reading this while weโ€™re how deep into the Coronavirus pandemic was a bit surreal. A lot of this hit so close to what weโ€™re experiencing now even though it was written before. Super trippy, and definitely probably not the book youโ€™re going to want to pick up if youโ€™re in the mood to escape our current problems. I really loved how this made me think about the different roles of men and women in our society and what life actually would be like a world where men didnโ€™t exist and how that would fundamentally change everything. It really gave me perspective on several things I never even thought about and I appreciated that, it really did outdo itself with fulfilling that goal. This, while an excellent concept, could have been executed so much better. I think when youโ€™re dealing with such massive scale loss and destruction, thereโ€™s an opportunity there to really pack an emotional punch with the story youโ€™re telling and get readers to really engage and feel for these characters. Though the events of this book are devastating, because of the way it is told I felt nothing. The emotional scenes in this book didnโ€™t make me emotional ta all. I didnโ€™t connect to or particularly care for the characters plights as much as I like to when Iโ€™m immersed in a story. I think this stems from two things โ€“ the pacing and the multiple narratives used throughout. This book within literally the first nine pages, kicks off an entire global pandemic and one of our main characters is panicking. In nine pages. Thereโ€™s no real build up, no picture of life โ€˜beforeโ€™ this all happened. We dive straight in. No exaggeration, this nurse makes some Sherlock Holmes level of deduction after looking at two patients with similar symptoms she declares a pandemic. Sheโ€™s literally hysterical and emailing people declaring a global emergency ten minutes after seeing her second case. It was just all a bit too much of a jump for me to be honest. Though the multiple narratives kept it snappy and boosted the pace a bit, they werenโ€™t for me. Because so much happens in literally the first chapter, everything after that was neither here nor there in terms of being engaging or really adding much to the story. It just felt like a never-ending decline with no real explanation. There were some scientific parts in this novel, but the science of this disease and actual explanation for what on earth happened is actually beyond me. Havenโ€™t a clue, couldnโ€™t really tell you. In fact, if you ask me about the plot points, theyโ€™re all a bit vague. There are so many haphazard accounts in this book they all sort of blurred together and I never spent enough time with either of them to form an attachment to their narrative which was a shame. I think this story wouldโ€™ve benefitted from a select few perspectives to rotate between and a shorter timespan with more in-depth emotional speak. Iโ€™d say give this one a go and see for yourself what you think, definitely an interesting one!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dea

    I normally do not write lengthy reviews for books I do not finish, but I made through about half of this one, so I feel like I should explain why I threw in the towel. Plus it made me a bit irate, and that always inspires a lengthy rant. The book started out fairly well, a sort of โ€œWorld War Zโ€ but with a deadly virus rather than a zombie one. There were chapters told from the POV of different women who occupied different parts of society, a stay at home mother, a doctor from the emergency depar I normally do not write lengthy reviews for books I do not finish, but I made through about half of this one, so I feel like I should explain why I threw in the towel. Plus it made me a bit irate, and that always inspires a lengthy rant. The book started out fairly well, a sort of โ€œWorld War Zโ€ but with a deadly virus rather than a zombie one. There were chapters told from the POV of different women who occupied different parts of society, a stay at home mother, a doctor from the emergency department, a civil servant, a virologist from CDC, etc. I was super stoked to see society deal with the plague from those different perspectives. Middle of the book is where I realized I was not going to get those different perspectives. Most of the events and internal emotional turmoil dealt with the protagonists' personal lives and not with the downfall of society. That turmoil and how the different characters dealt with it, was essentially the same from one woman to another. They all had wonderful husbands they loved and were taken from them too soon, they all had wonderful children they cried over. None of them had a husband they wanted dead. None of them breathed a sigh of relief because the burden of caring for a child in this new world was just too much. They were all cookie cutter nuclear family wives reacting to the events in the same manner as if programmed by a higher power. By the middle of the book there were only two chapters, but there may have been more, where women were glad to see men in their lives die, but those didn't take place in one of the civilized white European countries.... I think the breaking point for me was the XY chromosome discovery. I wasn't expecting this book to get into the weeds on how the science of virus detection works but I expected some basic adherence to how stuff works. Maybe at least some of the researchers not being complete idiots while they ran labs (?) and got results (?) that needed to be looked over (?). It was just so handwavy it was embarrassing. There is one final disappointment I think is worth mentioning, this may have been fixed in the last half of the book and those who read it can correct me since I was not willing to sit through 200 more pages of this. The women who should be forced by circumstance to take on leading roles in all levels of society did not do so. They coasted along with events happening around them and occasionally got catty with one another. And maybe I am being too optimistic in expecting the women to pick up the reins and start driving trucks and running factories, since they totally don't already do that, the women are not even falling into the expectant roles of care-giving. While there is mention of sitting by the beds of the dying, there is very little mention of the actual care-taking. The gritty dirty reality of caring for the sick that women have been expected to do for ages. This book would not have gotten as much attention if it wasn't for the pandemic rampaging around the world. I recommend no one waste their time on it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Well, talk about winning the topicality jackpot! Sweeney-Baird talks about writing this in 2018 before Covid-19, a speculative story about the sudden eruption of a viral pandemic but here one which only affects men and which has a huge mortality rate... In a way, though, reading this when the fiction has become unnervingly close to our realities also serves to undermine the book since the sensationalism is made all the clearer. Admittedly, the virus in the book has about a 90% mortality rate for Well, talk about winning the topicality jackpot! Sweeney-Baird talks about writing this in 2018 before Covid-19, a speculative story about the sudden eruption of a viral pandemic but here one which only affects men and which has a huge mortality rate... In a way, though, reading this when the fiction has become unnervingly close to our realities also serves to undermine the book since the sensationalism is made all the clearer. Admittedly, the virus in the book has about a 90% mortality rate for men but even so the reactions of people are so swift and so extreme: by Day 8 people are evacuating London, by Day 14 NHS doctors are refusing to go in to work, the army are driving ambulances and food delivery trucks, at Day 25 a reputable newspaper leader is prophesying the end of the world... This can't help but be an interesting read but to be honest not much actually happens and the mini-stories mean that we don't get attached to any of the characters. The speculation of how the 'new' world will be run by women makes some interesting predictions: China becomes a republic because there's no military to repress rebellion, military wives are conscripted into the army (why not just any women?), same-sex dating apps make millions. Interesting, undoubtedly, but as we've found in real life, the changes brought about by pandemic may be less sensational and more micro than the grand developments in the book. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karenโ€™s Library

    Iโ€™m absolutely blown away that the author wrote this entire book BEFORE COVID-19. In this amazing book, the world contracts a virus that kills 90% of the menโ€™s population. Woman contract the virus and can pass it on but experience no symptoms. The book switches POVs between quite a few people telling the story as of the first day of the pandemic and throughout the worldโ€™s recovery. The chapters are interspersed with articles and letters and is a fascinating look at what could happen if the world Iโ€™m absolutely blown away that the author wrote this entire book BEFORE COVID-19. In this amazing book, the world contracts a virus that kills 90% of the menโ€™s population. Woman contract the virus and can pass it on but experience no symptoms. The book switches POVs between quite a few people telling the story as of the first day of the pandemic and throughout the worldโ€™s recovery. The chapters are interspersed with articles and letters and is a fascinating look at what could happen if the world lost 90% of the males, including babies, toddlers, boys, and men. There were so many times while reading that I had a few tears dribbling down my cheeks as each POV told their story. It was truly heartbreaking. This book was extremely realistic... Almost too realistic as we go through our own real world pandemic. Bravo to the author for a terrifying look at what could have been. *Thank you so much to Penguin Group Putnam and to NetGalley for the advance copy!*

  29. 4 out of 5

    William

    Well. I can tell you for sure. If women had been running the Earth for the last 50 years, the planet would not be screwed now. โ€œThe better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.โ€ - Charles de Gaulle And more true every goddam day.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    Today is my spot on the blogtour for ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง by Christina Sweeney-Baird. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for having me along, and to Borough Press for sending me a copy of the book. - ๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐›๐š๐ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ฅ๐š๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐›๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž? ๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐ข๐ž? ๐‚๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐›๐ž ๐๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž? ๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ, ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ , ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐๐จ ๐ง๐จ๐ฐ? ๐–๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐›๐ž ๐ฌ๐š๐Ÿ๐ž? ๐–๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐›๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฎ๐ฌ? - This is a difficult review for me to write, as there are things that I feel I need to call out, that perhaps weren't Today is my spot on the blogtour for ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง by Christina Sweeney-Baird. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for having me along, and to Borough Press for sending me a copy of the book. - ๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐›๐š๐ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ฅ๐š๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐›๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž? ๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐ข๐ž? ๐‚๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐›๐ž ๐๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž? ๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ, ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ , ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐๐จ ๐ง๐จ๐ฐ? ๐–๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐›๐ž ๐ฌ๐š๐Ÿ๐ž? ๐–๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐›๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฎ๐ฌ? - This is a difficult review for me to write, as there are things that I feel I need to call out, that perhaps weren't considered when this book was written, and I hope that these comments are taken in the spirit that they are intended - i.e. not in a negative accusatory way, but more as a learning opportunity. The main focus of these comments relates to the LGBTQIA+ community, and their lack of actual representation throughout (some spoilers ahead). - ๐Ž๐ง๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐œ๐š๐ซ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐ข๐ซ๐ฎ๐ฌ. ๐Ž๐ง๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐ฌ๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฎ๐ฌ. - I'm going to start with the things that I think were done well in the book. Firstly, I think there are a lot of statistics and genuine facts and figures highlighted throughout the novel, that do draw attention to how women are under-represented in numerous areas of society; whether in certain job roles and industries, or in relation to being genuinely considered in safety testing, health services, and clothing manufacturing. I think these do highlight some of the current areas where things do need to change in real life, and hopefully this will open people's eyes to changes that genuinely need to take place. - ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ฅ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ญ - ๐ง๐จ, ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ'๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ข๐ซ - ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ฅ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ญ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ž๐ข๐ซ๐ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž๐ฑ. ๐‰๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐›๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ'๐ซ๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž '๐œ๐ก๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐ง ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฐ' ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ค ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ'๐ซ๐ž ๐ ๐จ๐๐ฌ. - I also liked how Sweeney-Baird flipped the current experiences that women have to endure pre 'the Plague' (and in real life) to experiences that the surviving men have to endure post 'the Plague'. Some of the portrayals of these societal changes were quite illuminating, and they do make the reader question how these dynamics might really play out. - ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ ๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐š ๐ฅ๐จ๐ญ ๐ช๐ฎ๐ข๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ. ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ฆ๐š๐ค๐ž-๐ฎ๐ฉ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ข๐ซ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฎ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ. ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐จ, ๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ข๐ซ๐ญ, ๐›๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ข๐ญ'๐ฌ ๐๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ง๐จ๐ฐ. ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž'๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ž๐š๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ ๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ๐ฐ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ข๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ž๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž'๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ. - I also thought the structure of the book worked well. Sweeney-Baird separated the story into before, during, and after the Plague. There were a lot of character perspectives throughout the story, so this did help to maintain structure and to clearly portray the evolving response to the virus. - ๐–๐ž'๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฐ๐ข๐๐จ๐ฐ๐ฌ, ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ž๐š๐œ๐ก ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ, ๐›๐ฎ๐ญ '๐ฐ๐ข๐๐จ๐ฐ' ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ฅ๐ ๐ง๐จ๐ฐ. ๐ˆ๐ญ'๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฎ๐ง๐›๐ž๐š๐ซ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž. ๐‰๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐›๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฅ๐จ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฉ๐ž๐จ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐š๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ๐ง'๐ญ ๐ฆ๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ข๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐›๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ. ๐ˆ๐Ÿ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ , ๐ข๐ญ'๐ฌ ๐ก๐š๐ซ๐๐ž๐ซ ๐›๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ'๐ซ๐ž ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ. - When I read the premise of the book, I thought it sounded like such an interesting subject, especially given my viewpoint as a woman and a feminist. What would happen if there were a mysterious illness sweeping the globe - no longer too difficult to imagine given the coronavirus outbreak - and how would life change if the victims were all men? I did wonder from the beginning how the virus/illness would determine someone to be a 'man' - after all, gender is not binary; it is a spectrum: (1) If the virus focussed on sexual reproductive organs, then it cannot be binary and solely focus on 'men', as intersex people exist; (2) If the virus focussed on the amount of hormones present within an individual's body, then it cannot be binary and solely focus on 'men', as plenty of people of other genders have a high level of testosterone; (3) If the virus focussed on chromosomes, then it cannot be binary and solely focus on 'men' as there are numerous variations to the XX and XY chromosome. - ๐Ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐š๐ง๐๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐˜ ๐œ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ข๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ฌ. ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ฐ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฒ-๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ซ๐ ๐œ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ฌ ๐—๐—, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ฌ ๐—๐˜. ๐˜ ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ ๐›๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ข๐ญ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ๐ง'๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐š๐ซ๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐œ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฉ๐š๐ข๐ซ. ๐ˆ๐ง ๐ฉ๐š๐ข๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐œ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ, ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐—๐—, ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ญ๐ฐ๐จ ๐œ๐จ๐ฉ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ, ๐š ๐ฆ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐›๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐จ๐ฅ๐ฏ๐ž๐ ๐›๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ซ๐ซ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐ ๐ž๐ง๐ž ๐ฌ๐ž๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ. ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ฆ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ฌ ๐จ๐œ๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐˜ ๐œ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž, ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐๐ข๐ฌ๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ฌ ... ๐“๐ก๐š๐ง๐ค๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ข๐ซ ๐—๐— ๐œ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ, ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ฌ๐š๐Ÿ๐ž. ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ, ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง, ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ฏ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ง๐ž๐ซ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐ข๐ซ๐ฎ๐ฌ. - The explanation for the virus' focus on 'men' was provided just shy of halfway through the book, where the author detailed that the biologists and immunologists identified it was a genetic identifier based on chromosomes, and that if you had an XY (i.e. 'male') pair you would contract the virus and likely die, whereas if you had an XX (i.e. 'female') pair you would be a carrier, but not experience symptoms or die from the virus. Given the biological explanation provided here, this would have been the perfect opportunity for the author to have acknowledged the intersex, trans, and non-binary communities that are not captured under this brief explanation, and also to acknowledge the fact that numerous individuals are born with chromosome variations that are broader than XX or XY. (For example: XXY - Klinefelter syndrome; XYY - Jacob's syndrome; XXX - Triple X; XXXX - Tetrasomy X; XXXY; XXXXY, and; XXXXX - Pentasomy X). Not everyone has 46 chromosomes. Some people have 47, 48, or even 49 chromosomes, but this was in no way acknowledged throughout the book. - '๐‹๐ž๐ญ'๐ฌ ๐ ๐จ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐š๐ฌ๐ข๐œ๐ฌ,' ๐“๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐š ๐ฌ๐š๐ฒ๐ฌ. '๐†๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐š ๐ฌ๐จ๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐œ๐ญ ... ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ฅ๐š๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฎ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐š๐ฌ๐ข๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฑ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐œ๐ค๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ข๐ญ ... ๐“๐ซ๐š๐ง๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž - ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ'๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐›๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ ๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐๐ข๐ž. ๐“๐ซ๐š๐ง๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž - ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ'๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ ๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ง๐ž ... ๐“๐ซ๐š๐ง๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐ก๐ž๐ฅ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐š๐œ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ข๐ซ ๐—๐˜ ๐œ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ.' - The single reference to the existence of the trans community was not mentioned until close to the end, and this reference still only focussed on binary gender, referring to transwomen as XY and transmen as XX. While elements of the gender norms ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ based on societal expectations, it does a huge disservice to the intersex, non-binary, and trans communities to focus on binary gender as the only option here - gender is a spectrum both societally and physiologically. - ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ข๐ง ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ'๐ฌ ๐ ๐š๐ณ๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง ๐š ๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐š๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐‹๐ข๐›๐›๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฆ๐ž. ๐‡๐ข๐ฌ ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฌ๐›๐š๐ง๐ ๐๐ข๐ž๐ ๐ข๐ง ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ” ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐ง๐ง๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐”๐’ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ข๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐š ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ซ๐จ๐ ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐. - (Cont'd in comments)

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