Glasgow, 2025. Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a patient with flu-like symptoms. Within three hours he is dead. This is how it begins.
The unknown virus sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed.
The victims are all men.
Dr Maclean raises the alarm. But by the time the authorities listen to her, the virus has spread to every corner of the world. Threatening families. Governments. Countries.
Can they find a cure before it’s too late?
Can they stop #TheEndOfMen?
‘Devastating, prescient, compelling and confronting, not only because it’s the first thing I’ve read that even touches the sides of the very real pandemic we’re living through’ Laura Jane Williams, bestselling author of Our Stop
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 365 members
The End Of Men is a book that would always have appealed to me, even before I was living through a global pandemic. Written a few years before the situation we now find ourselves in, it’s surely a quirk of fate that it will be published in a time we are, hopefully, rebuilding our lives. Did I read it differently to how I would of a year ago? Yes. Are there parallels? Yes, undoubtably, because a virus that takes over the world in a matter of weeks is something that is now much more of a reality than many of us ever thought. I think as a result, whilst reading I was a little less terrified than I would’ve been, and maybe it seemed less like fiction and something that could be in the daily news. Which just serves to demonstrate quite how timely this book is. Spanning years and told by a kaleidoscope of distinct narrative voices The End Of Men is a brilliantly written story of humanity. It delves deeply into what it takes to survive yet it’s also a heart-wrenching exploration of grief, bringing to life the all too raw poignancy as we consider what we’ve lost and what may be changed irrevocably. Highly recommended.
The first thing that came to me whilst reading this book is it is very close to home with the pandemic that we are currently going through at the moment, when something like this happens it is absolutely devastating, this is the first book I have read that confronts this type of pandemic and I wonder if there will be any other books that confront this issue. It all felt very real reading this, the fact that no one really thought anything of it at the beginning but then how it all spiralled out of control. If we weren't where we are at the moment then I would not believe this could ever happen. It really makes you think what life would be like if you were in this situation. A though provoking and emotional read, one that made me think and one I will never forget.
It's a Five Star Book of the Year for me! It’s August 2020 and I’m sat on my sofa in the searing heat. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and I’ve attempted to read just 2 books in as many weeks and couldn’t finish either of them. My concentration is at record rock bottom levels and I’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 didn’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. I’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, I’m trying to escape the continuous doom and gloom of this world, not add to it. What the he’ll am I doing?! Anyway, I had my request accepted and dived straight in. There’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. ‘The world is closing down’. 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 I’m reading, I struggle to remember who’s voice I’m hearing. All these characters were diverse and the writing style was crystal clear. Everyone’s journey was a path I followed with ease. ‘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.’ 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 I’d been clenching my teeth so hard whilst reading that I’d given myself a tension headache and jaw-ache! What a relief! So I took some paracetamol and carried on reading. ‘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.’ The tables have turned. Women are the future in Sweeney-Baird’s world. Women are being relied upon to save the world, the human race. I’d say it’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. (I’m looking at you, New Zealand!) What I wasn’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? I’m joking, obviously. I’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. ‘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 clearly’. I know it sounds completely nuts, but I would say this is recommended reading for any person, man or woman, who’s life has been affected by Covid-19. So that’s EVERYONE then. It’s put our current situation into better perspective for me, that’s for sure. For the first time since March I’ve felt a little more positive and a lot more thankful because actually, things really could be a whole lot worse. ‘Bad things and good things can coexist…..’ ‘And we have to find the good where we can.’ Ladies and gentlemen, give that man in your life an enormous hug. I’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.
In years to come readers unfamiliar with the details will probably think this was written in response to the COVID pandemic, it’s hard to believe that a novel predicting a life-changing global pandemic which kills men rather than women was written the year before a life-changing global pandemic which has killed more men than women. At first I was wary that it would be too close to reality to read this review copy in 2020 and if I’d lost someone close to me that would probably be the case, but I was drawn into the story, told from the viewpoints of different characters around the world as the virus takes hold, from the first page to the last. It begins with Amanda the Scottish A&E consultant who sees the first men die, realises something is very wrong and tries to get a local lockdown but is dismissed as a hysterical female by the powers that be. Cases spread quickly across the UK, then around the world as we are introduced to a variety of characters, each trying to get to grips with the new world with very few men in their own way. Catherine the anthropologist terrified she’s going to lose her husband and son. Dawn the bored senior civil servant counting down the hours to retirement until she’s suddenly left as the person in charge. Brothers Toby and Mark on a cruise to see the northern lights when the captain realises all they have to do is stay at sea until it’s all over to stay safe, they’ve got plenty of food to keep them going for a couple of months. Lisa the ruthless Canadian scientist who’s always employed the best woman for the job finds herself at advantage in the search for a vaccine when all the male scientists are dying but will she win the race to find it? This could so easily have turned into a feminist diatribe or a depressing novel without hope but somehow, no matter how sad their story, each character lifts the reader in their own way. Brilliant page-turner!
Saw this title and I thought that is a book for me!! But seriously, this is great, I'm so glad I picked it up. I thought the writing was incredible and especially impressive as it's a debut. I really enjoyed all the different points of view in the book and reading it in the current climate felt exceptionally terrifying! Such an interesting take on the plague/apocalypse style novels. Despite there being a few other books like this it felt completely unique and unlike anything I've read before, I honestly could not put it down and read it over a couple of days. Definitely going to look out for more from Christina Sweeney-Baird. Thank you for sharing this review copy!
I cannot recommend this story highly enough! I was hooked from the start, the writing is incredible and the subject matter gripping. It’s so cleverly written from multiple perspectives that show the full range of the impact of the Plague on loves across the world. It’s gritty, emotional and thought provoking. I just found it fascinating to read the development of the story and to reflect on the changes at every level of society from individuals and families to professions, organisations and governments. The timing of my reading in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic perhaps made it more relatable and it’s uncanny to think that this idea of the authors which must have seemed so far fetched initially turned out to be almost prophetic. A must read in my view and highly recommended. I’d give it 6 stars if I could!
Well, this book will break your heart. It’s story of a plague that all but wipes out the male population feels eerily familiar, and at the same time a horrifying tale of what could have been. The perspectives of the survivors portrayed in this novel are brutal, terrifying and utterly heartbreaking. But that didn’t stop me devouring this book, reading late into the night desperate that somewhere there would be a chink of hope for the characters. Well written and completely unputdownable it’s a story that will resonate with so many of us. My only slight slight pedantic issue? The reference to a matron in a Glasgow hospital numerous times - matrons don’t exist in Scottish hospitals! But that’s definitely just nitpicking.
This book hurts. It takes your heart and squeezes, scratches, tears, and bites. It is so worth all that pain. "The End of Men" is beautifully written, with the plot sucking you in from the first few words. The characters cover quite a large spectrum and, with the differing (and similar) points of view, this makes the plot far harder hitting. You'll probably need several boxes of tissues for this one and should prepare to be shaken. Gut-wrenchingly, gobsmackingly, awesomely THE book to look out for next year. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
I devoured this one in two sittings. A disease suddenly appears in a Glasgow hospital. Amanda, a doctor, sees a pattern. Nobody listens to her and it spreads like wildfire. It kills only men. Recently the news has told us that countries led by women have dealt with the coronavirus best. I kept thinking of that when I read this book. The writer doesn't pull her punches. You get attached to people and they die. It's devastating. The women all survive and, as women do, they get on with it. The book shows us how much better the world would be run without men to mess it up. It's thought-provoking and strangely reassuring. The world goes on even after a pandemic.
The foreword by the author is really insightful, little did she know that her book would very closely mirror the pandemic that the work is currently battling. The End of Men tells of a disease that wipes out 90% of the male population and It is told from multiple female perspectives, doctors, parents, wives and scientists. At times it is unbelievably raw especially when we read about a woman who loses both her husband and her son. This had me thinking how many male members of my family I could potentially lose if the disease was real. The story is very thought provoking and there are certain aspects which have the ability to make you quite cross - without divulging any of the plot - this is towards the end of the book. Very well written and enjoyable to read.
If I'd read The End of Men six months ago I would have described it as set in a dystopian future. Now we are living in the midst of a global pandemic, suddenly what happens in this book doesn't seem so hard to imagine. Instead of Covid-19, imagine a plague transmitted from animals to humans, and this deadly virus kills 90% of men who catch it. The pandemic aspect of this plot is now all too easy to relate to, and this alone made it a fascinating and compelling read as I spotted parallels between the world gripped by a pandemic as imagined by the writer, and how the world has been in 2020. Thankfully Covid-19 is nowhere near as deadly as the Plague. The impact of the majority of men in the world dying is told from different points of view, from both personal and professional perspectives. This new society ran mostly by women is a fascinating concept about how the world had to adapt. The End of Men is beautifully written, unputdownable and as much an anthropology as it is a thriller.
I came across this book on Twitter and immediately pre-ordered it, however I also requested it on Netgalley and was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC. I must start by saying that this is hands down my favourite book this year, and most definitely top 10 ever. I read it in two days, and it only took me so long because I was trying to pace myself and not rush it. I got so absorbed by the story that I would not hear my husband talking to me. I went to bed thinking about the events taking place and woke up ready to read on and find out more. Reading a book about a global pandemic while we are living one might seem too depressing to consider, but this book had the opposite effect. No matter how bad things are now, they are not as terrifying and as world ending as the ones in this book. It helps with perspective. In this book a deadly virus is killing almost all the men in the world – with 97% fatality rate, while the women are asymptomatic carriers. The virus spreads quickly and lives outside hosts for a long time, thus becoming difficult to control. The book starts shortly before the outbreak of this virus in Scotland, but the situation quickly escalates and spirals out of control around the world. The book is written like a record of different people’s experiences throughout and after the four-year pandemic, in different countries around the globe. I absolutely loved the format. I became very attached to Catherine and was heartbroken to read about her loss; Amanda who was a force of nature to be reckoned with and she is someone I would like to have as a friend; Elizabeth was like a breath of fresh air trying to keep everyone positive and others. The author thought very carefully about the geo-political implications of such a deadly virus and she made a fantastic job explaining why certain events happened the way they did and how the world moved on. The impact of this virus on women, the immune men, the trans men and the trans women, the gay and the straight people was discussed and analysed as well. This book reads like a record and in my opinion, this makes it even more powerful.
The End Of Men What a timely book. I was interested to read the foreword as this book was wrote prior to Coronavirus and then released into a very different world to the one it was wrote in. I was half terrified reading this book...because we can now see how easy these things could come to pass and half relieved, as however bad the virus we are currently dealing with is...its not The Plague. The indictment of pandemic control and the governments shambolic handling of a pandemic is particularly timely. Being an island ...everyone is aware that if flights had been stopped quicker, if the powers that be has acted quicker then it could easily have been contained. The End Of Men shows us this and with even more deadly and life changing consequences. I cried alot reading this book. I particularly loved Amanda and Catherine and hated Lisa Michael's with a passion I didn't know possible from what little we saw of her. It took me a few chapters to get used to the way the story was told...it jumps between characters and situations and you often don't come back to them. At first I struggled but then I adored it...I wanted the different perspectives and if some were more interesting than others...that was also fine because the pieces made up the whole picture. Had I read this last year...I may have said something along the lines of how it was far fetched because I am sure the government would handle a pandemic better. Unfortunately in 2020 we know that's not the case and its luck rather than judgement that has seen to it that we are seemingly containing it to some degree. However because of the time that we are reading it in...it is hard and painful reading...it felt all too real. The writing is exquisite...with so many strands they were wound together beautifully and I couldn't recommend this book more. It scared me, but it also made me really feel and I have been thinking of the people we have lost due to covid since I have finished it and the fractured families and the different world. It's very scary when a dystopian thriller feels very real but also very humbling. I think it's amazing how real the author made it before it was real...it shows an innate understanding of humanity and I am very impressed. Will definitely be reading more books by this highly talent author. Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In 2020 this book is shockingly relevant to what’s happening today. It felt so real. I couldn’t put it down and read it in just two days. Well written
If you had read The End of Men a few years ago you'd likely have laughed at the absurdity of the premise. Now in 2020, this book hits differently. It's eerily relevant and hits a mark you didn't even know needed hitting. Christina Sweeney-Baird has created a relevant, gripping and compelling read.
I couldn't put this book down. It would have been an interesting read in 2019, but it is fascinating in 2020 to draw parallels between a fictional plot, and the awful reality of Covid 19. At times I found the story unbearably sad, but the book deals with some important and interesting issues, and there are moments of real humour. I hope this book finds a wide audience, and I will certainly be recommending it.
What an interesting idea and well put together novel. Obviously I feel for the author to be publishing a book she must have written some time ago in the middle of a global pandemic. (Though not one as serious as the one in the novel.) However it did not impact on my enjoyment and I very much enjoyed the parallels and differences. I didn't want to put it down and I was keen to find out what would happen. So in the Christina Sweeney-Baird pandemic, men are the ones who die, and women are left behind, many of them grieving the loss of their sons partners, brothers, fathers etc.. I loved the concept and the way the author follow3ed certain characters, both ordinary women and those trying to find a vaccine. It was interesting trying to imagine a world where women outnumber men by 9-1., and the book does this well. The author must have read the fabulous Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez , as I recognized some of the statistics and I really liked how she included them into the story.. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. It is touching, shocking and gripping. I would probably give it four and a half stars but I am rounding it up to five as I keep thinking about it. . I am certainly going to buy it for my 17 year old daughter when it is published. Thank you to the author, the publishers and #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review #TheEndofMen
It's hard to believe that when the author wrote this book, none of has had ever heard of Covid 19. The premise of this book is terrifying, a virus which wipes out 90% of men but can be carried asymptomatically by women as well. Told through different newspaper articles and the perspectives of women affected by the plague in many different ways, the writing is insightful, sensitive and packs an emotional punch. Some of the events the author describes have been eerily accurate from the pandemic experience we have been going through recently, but with the extreme severity of the plague in this book it is really heart-wrenching as fathers, husbands, brothers and sons are lost to the disease indiscriminately. The exploration of how the world would change in such a devastating situation was fascinating. This is a powerful, heartbreaking, gripping read and I give it 5 out of 5.
It is scary to think that this book was written before we faced the horrors of Covid-19. A 'plague' breaks out somewhere in Scotland. The twist.... It only affects the men. Fast spreading and rapidly killing. The disease in the beginning is given too much time to do damage before any professionals i.e. government, public health etc do anything. The novel from the get go is eerie, more because of the similarities of what we're going through now but also for how detailed, how realistic it all is. Told from numerous points of view, we get insight into the progression of the virus and just how it devastated people's lives in differing ways. From wives losing husbands, sons. Awful feelings of envy to the men that turn out to be immune. Why should they get to live when others don't? I digested this story slowly. Choosing to read it over a few days rather than speeding through it. Plenty of emotional moments where I felt I could cry. This isn't a happy ending kind of tale it is dark, but throughout it all there is an underlying sense of hope. Hope for a cure, hope for a future. And there is also a brilliant current of empowerment, I loved the portrayal of women, we are survivors (as Destiny's Child would say). A thought provoking read, maybe the government could learn a thing or two from reading it. Ultimately, I'm just so glad I had the chance to read The End of Men.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been interested in reading this book, but the relevance to our current situation inspired me to give it a try, and I'm glad! A deadly pandemic originating in Glasgow rapidly spreads around the world with devastating consequences. 95% of men who contract the disease die, while women can carry the disease but are asymptomatic. The book follows the stories of several women throughout the course of the four years or so from the start of the pandemic. It was fascinating to explore the events that unfolded from the different perspectives - the doctor who discovered the first case of the virus but who was ignored when she tried to raise the alarm, scientists searching for a vaccine, bereaved wives and mothers... While heartbreaking at times, the book also offered a sense of hope in the strength and resilience of the characters experiencing a pandemic far, far worse than the current one. The only thing that feels slightly strange is that it is set in 2025, and obviously if there was to be a pandemic in 2025, COVID-19 would be fresh in everyone's minds. It feels strange that it is not mentioned in the book (which it can't be because the book was written before this pandemic) and I think some of the responses would be different in 2025 because of the events of this year. Basically, it's set in a 2025 where COVID-19 hasn't happened, which feels slightly odd. but it doesn't stop it from being a gripping and fascinating read.
Thanks to NetGalley.co.uk and HarperCollins UK for the eARC Oh my goodness. That was intense! It is absolutely incredible that this was written in a pre-Covid world but managed to get so many details right. The fact that this novel was so close to the current pandemic made it even more frightening. The author said it started as a thought-experiment but it has now become a terrifying reality. I was continually stunned throughout the book by the things Christina Sweeney-Baird was able to predict, and also intrigued by ideas that were implemented in her novel but have not (yet) been implemented in the real world. If Covid 19 had never happened, I think this book would have been interesting but so unlikely that it would seem silly instead of the nightmare that unfolds between it's pages. I initially thought I would get confused as each chapter is told by alternating characters, and I was worried I would mix them up, but this didn't happen at all as each voice was so authentic. I absolutely loved this book and raced through it in less than a day! I would recommend it to everyone but particularly those who enjoy fast paced thrillers, and The Power by Naomi Alderman and Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
A shockingly accurate (given the current pandemic) “end of the world” novel that gave me goosebumps. Set in a future not too far from our present, Sweeny-Baird charts the devastation the deadly “Male Plague” virus through the perspectives of multiple woman. I loved the differing points of view and how these women were able to survive while facing unimaginable grief and loss. The political discussions that take place later in the novel we’re particularly interesting to me, as well as the various newspaper articles which chronicled the events as they unfolded. If you enjoy novels that really make you think while also giving you the chills, this one is for you! I would like to thank Harper Collins UK for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review!
I loved the concept of this book, and it felt creepily timely given the global pandemic we are now living through. At times uncomfortable to read, given current events, and yet also given this I found it even more fascinating to consider how a virus like this CAN infiltrate and tip the whole world off balance. I found myself absorbed by the idea in particular, I imagine it will get people talking - a great read.
I loved this book! Read in one sitting, even with the covid context it really pulled me in. Reads a little like world war z but more drama. Well written I would love to try more from this author!
What a novel to have written and have published in the covid-19 era. Clearly this was devised and written pre-2020...however I'd like to doff my cap to the author because what an imagination! The End of Men is an excellently written highly plausible (as we now know!) look at how fast a virus can spread around the globe and ultimately how useless governments - and us humans - are in response to it. I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the devastating consequences a virus can have on our society and how plausible the central female characters reacted to it. It's pacy and brilliantly written. Recommend.
I hope by the time that you're reading this, there is a vaccine. This book is AMAZING. Its surreal to read a book written in 2018, set in 2025ish and have it seem so far fetched yet real at the same time. Im amazed how many similarities the author has made up that have actually been like our reality in 2020 (the government paying 80% of cost of children gave me chills!) Likeness to reality aside, this book is a great book. It takes us through various POV over the years after the virus hits and it all comes together beautifully. I loved the depth each character was given, even if some of them we only spend a tiny amount of time with. I've cried. I've laughed. I've felt like I had lost someone. It explores some really interesting points too! The changes to cars when women are the main customer was a quick sentence in the book but made me think a lot about everything. Its such a good book. One of my favourites of the year.
It starts in a Glasgow hospital. A man comes in with a mysterious illness that claims his life. Two days later, men who were in the hospital at the same time re-admit with the same symptoms. All of them die. Slow-moving, Public Health does nothing, giving rumour and fear chance to spread among the population, who then run to their homes sometimes getting on planes and boats to do so. Suddenly an isolated sickness is everywhere. Men, boys, and male babies are dying at an alarming rate, and there is no vaccine in sight. Told primarily through female viewpoints, The End of Men follows a Glasgow A&E doctor Laura, who identifies the Plague. She must navigate through this Plague from the point of discovery to the rebuilding of society after a vaccine. Her story is poignant because of her proximity to the Plague, as well as her loss. I won’t go into too many details, so you can experience her pain for yourself. There are also snapshots from others struggling to remain sane. Catherine is an anthropologist who collects the stories compiled in the book. Toby Williams is trapped on a cruiser off the Swedish coast with his twin brother slowly starving to death. His wife, Frances, is speaking daily with Swedish authorities to get food to him and the others on the ship safely. Morven must look after 78 teenage boys on her land in Scotland while her son hides in the wilderness, so he is safe from any germs these newcomers might have. Some are complete stories, and others are moment which at times made it difficult to remember who was who, but that didn’t get in the way too much. Each of the stories come together in chronological order for a full-flavoured experience of panic, fear, grief, and determination. The End of Men reflects all sides of humanity. Some handle their situation with determination, wanting to honour the memories of their lost love ones. Others crumble under pressure. Some characters struggle to find meaning, and others realise this epidemic can further their career aspirations. Sweeney-Barid also explores the impact of the Plague on the LGBTQ community. The survival rate for men is 10% as some have natural immunity which means gay men have an even smaller pool of potential partners than women. The loneliness of their situation is poignant and thought-provoking. This attention to detail elevates The End of Men bove other apocalyptic stories and into the same untouchable category of brilliance as Max Brookes’ World War Z. What made The End of Men stand out for me was my proximity to the characters. There is no barely-concealed narrator’s voice telling me who the author believes is right or wrong. The characters speak for themselves, and we are left to make up our minds. The End of Men is not for the faint-hearted. Still, it is worth all the pain for the uplifting moments of breakthrough, the tender moments of support and compassion, and the moments you can hold the men in your family grateful they are still with you. Highly recommended.
The summary of this book drew me, mainly as its primarily set in Glasgow and although its September 2020 I did actually want to read about a pandemic. It's 2025 and a man comes into A&E in Glasgow and dies almost instantly. Then more men keep dying until it's obvious that whatever is happening is only affecting men. Each chapter of the book is a woman's story and describes how the pandemic affects her as it ravages the world. Some characters you get to follow their full experiences and some you only get a snapshot into their experiences. It could sometimes take a minute to realise which person the chapter was about but it does work really well though as you do feel emotionally attached to some of the women and indifferent to others. What I wasn't quite prepared for was the consistent crying I would do while reading it. I'm not sure if it was due to the writing but maybe as I'm the mother of one son it felt very personal. It reminded me of The Power by Naomi Alderman but where that book pitted men and women against each other this book highlighted the sheer anguish the women felt losing the men that they loved. It's truly heart breaking but does give hope as well. I enjoyed this book immensely and would definitely recommend it.
I’m sure every review for The End of Men will comment on the every comparisons between what is on the page and what is currently going on in the world, and when this book comes out next year I hope people realise it was written beforehand as truly there are bits that feel embarrassingly similar to true events, and others that are terrifyingly possible. The End of Men follows a number of women throughout a pandemic that spreads across the world, killing the majority of men in a 5 day period that starts off like the flu, women can carry and spread the virus but they don’t suffer it’s effects. After Dr Amanda Maclean working in a Glasgow hospital notices a number of patients coming into A&E with what starts like a flu like virus, resistant to antibiotics, and deteriorating fatally within 5 days, she believes Scotland is about to face a pandemic. She contacts Health Protection Scotland with her early signs and is dismissed as hysterical. Very quickly, without governmental guidance or containment, this virus spreads, with cases Being found across the world and before long the future of men and the population of Earth is at threat. This book follows Women who are doctors, in leadership, in journalism, in pharmacy, mothers and daughters and wives, as they search for the truth, as they search for a cure, as they search for answers and they lose the ones they love. This is an incredibly well thought out book, truly the author has considered so many eventualities that could result from a worldwide pandemic, even down to a discussion about how technology would adapt to a wider female market (wither population of men decreasing) and how in turn iPhone handsets would become smaller due to women having smaller hands. So many aspects are considered, from discovering the source to finding a cure to how countries would monopolise on this to bargain and overpower others, from the pain of losing a child to the additional pain of knowing someone who hasn’t lost their child, to dating and reproduction and rebuilding the population, from panic buying and rationing to people rioting at the airport to leave, to training a workforce of women that has largely been controlled by men. This book explores a lot and while I can’t say I enjoyed it all, in that at times it’s at hard or at least uncomfortable to read (particularly when it comes to the inevitable and unavoidable deaths and the grief that follows), I have a lot of respect for this book. My only criticism would be that that there are a lot of characters and at times it took me a moment to recall where we had a left a character, this may partly be due to the formatting of the ebook Arc though :) The characters themselves are varied and covers the international impact of a virus and a world handed to women to cure and rebuild. Thank you NetGalley for the early copy in exchange for an honest review, I’m excited for everyone to read this next year.
Today we are in 2020, we are currently living through a global pandemic COVID-19 and I’ve just finished this book, based in 2025, originated in Glasgow and only affecting men. Wow. As soon as I saw this book I had to read it, although it was terrifying I was totally hooked, it’s very close to home with our current situation. It had me wondering what my thoughts and feelings of this book would have been if I’d have read it a few years ago, when a global pandemic was just a story that wouldn’t happen in our life time, I’d have still been gripped but I think I’d have been more relaxed reading it with it being just that, a story. I would highly recommend this book and I certainly will be shouting from the roof tops to all my friends to check it out.
This was a very gripping read. Set in Glasgow in the future a dr has to treat a patient with flu-like symptoms but within hours he is dead. Reading this in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic this story felt so familiar. Just like Covid the virus spread fast and the only difference was the victims in this book were all men. When you read a book that is so shocking but rings so true with the world around you at the same time it’s very scary. Let’s hope we find a cure for Covid 19 so we really don’t completely reflect this book. Definitely one to read right now!!
This poignant novel is almost prophetic in describing the start and rapid growth of a global pandemic. From the initial reticence of health officials to the development of a vaccine and all the heartache and grief in between, it was at times hard to separate the novel from what was happening in real life.
I loved, loved, loved this book. Reading it in the midst of a pandemic made it all the better, I liked seeing what someone imagined a pandemic would be like before we actually found ourselves in one! The subject of a virus which only kills men was an interesting one, it raises many different subjects such as what would happen to the jobs which are mainly staffed with men, such as plumbers, electricians and the army. I enjoyed following different women and the different viewpoints of everyone. At times it was difficult to read as obviously babies and children were not spared. This was such an interesting read.
I felt a bit disoriented reading a novel that cuts this close to the bone and, lifting my head, would momentarily forget which version of the plague I was living through. This pandemic emerges suddenly in Glasgow with a near fatal mortality rate - but only for men. The book flits between women across the globe from the emergence of the plague to a post-pandemic return to a new normal. Many of these women are central to the handling of the disease, such as a Scottish A&E doctor who handles Patient Zero and whose desperate cries for action are ignored, a young CDC researcher who flies across the Atlantic to join the British Task Force at the epicentre, and a Canadian lesbian virologist who is determined to find a vaccine. Yet it was the more ordinary women whose stories I found more engaging, like the British housewife whose selfish husband leaves her so he can enjoy his last days without the humdrum of domestic boredom, and the Filipina maid working for the Tais who is desperate to flee Singapore as it descends into anarchy. I wish we spent less time with the insufferable anthropologist at UCL, so absorbed by her own grief that she bitterly avoids her best friend who has not experienced tragedy. There is much that echoes reality - the governmental incompetence as ‘the institutions we thought would keep us safe, would in fact be woefully inadequate in the face of a pandemic’, the politicising of a cure, the longing for a return to a pre-pandemic normal. The other part of this thought experiment was more speculative - what would a world where a plague had killed 90% of men look like? Many of these details had, I strongly suspect, been taken directly from Invisible Women - safety features, medicine created for women. Wars where ‘rape is not a tool’ ending the wars waged since the dawn of time where ‘nobody wins when men fight’. It is also a world where plumbers, train drivers and security forces are in short supply, and where women everywhere grieve the death of their husbands and sons. There are many ideas packed into this engrossing book, but perhaps it was most enjoyable because it presents a pandemic so crippling that ours looks rather light.
Incredibly relatable in the current circumstances, brilliantly written and beautifully engaging, I could not put it down until I was finished
The End of Men is Christina Sweeney-Baird's debut and I found it to be a gripping and shocking read. It is set in 2025 and an outbreak of a virus in Scotland has become a global pandemic which only affects men of whom it kills 90%. The novel follows the accounts of those women caught up in the pandemic from the doctor who witnessed the first case of the virus , a social anthropologist who documents the human experiences , an intelligence analyst and scientists working on the first vaccine. In the current climate Sweeney- Baird's debut feels chillingly possible and I became immediately caught up in the lives of the women involved. It looks at grief and loss and how society changes in the absence of men. It illustrates the strength, determination and resilience of the survivors and I found it to be an ultimately hopeful book. Definitely one of my reads of the year and highly recommended. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC.
One of the best reads of 2020 so far! Blew me away! Hard to read currently but brilliant writing! Excited to read the next book, excellent debu!
I loved this book! It was enthralling, and I know that the printed version will be even better, as the digital version takes away from the impact. The story is sprawling in the best sense, and I became so much part of the narrative. I can see this being an instant classic, and would highly recommend it to others.
Wow, I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did! Maybe due to the fact, we are literally in an a pandemic, this book was much more impactful, but I think even had covid-19 pandemic not been going on, I would still have been blown away! Completely unputdownable, easy to immerse in, character development and setting completely out of this world, and the plot original, unique, and most important riveting! I would never ever expect it to be writing by a debit author, as it’s too good, but an amazing at how much this debut accomplished! Highly, highly recommend! Prepare for some chills and shocks, especially in today’s world! Will definitely buzz around and use lower amazon reviewer number on release date!
Utterly engrossing, completely compelling. Reading this in a pandemic adds a weird layer of reality crossing over with the fiction. This was an utterly compelling read and seeped into my thoughts frequently; and the outcomes (including improved healthcare for women, smaller phones etc) are things we could do without waiting for a male plague to bring about!
Wow! What a great book, I so enjoyed it. The premise is that a virus sweeps around the world, killing over 90% of all males but sparing all women. It felt very odd to be reading this in 2020, as we are reeling from the onslought of Corona virus, which is not at all as discriminating as the Male Plague. I was not sure how the book would work, as it was written just before the pandemic. It was interesting to read how the author made the characters cope, trying to spare their loved ones by social distancing and masks - just as we do as a norm now. The story follows a series of people, showing how the pandemic started (a scary prospect with parallels to the rumour-mill for Covid-19), how it spread and how it affected different people. One felt such sadness for some of the woman, and wanted to belt a couple of them (especially Lisa, who I hadn't taken to even before her efforts to grab all the credit for finding a vaccine - a testament to how well the author portrayed her). I great story, great escapism (if not quite as escapist as the author anticipated when she wrote it!) and I really enjoyed it. Thank you to NetGalley, HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction and The Borough Press for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A truly amazing debut by this author; a prescient, thought-provoking and emotive tome all in one. While a piece of science fiction but too close to home due to the current Covid-19 climate the lengths that CSB goes to, to create a world where men are removed from the world is startling all the courses of action that will have to be taken by people is staggering. After a run of a few bad books to cover, this book engaged me and was most enjoyable from beginning to the end to a new beginning
I loved this book and read it in one sitting. It kept me enthralled to the end - and perhaps because of the current pandemic! It was very relevant (and also very scary to see how a situation such as this can be so easily predicted by someone with an imagination - and yet not predicted by governments world wide and to be taken by surprise.). I loved how the book was written by the view points of different women. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in the end about how the world had changed and how the leadership of women had altered everything. The author went it a little bit there, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more. But I really enjoyed the book and couldn't put it down.
Not what I expected but in a good way. A novel about a pandemic in the midst of a pandemic. Loved it. This easily could have hit too close to home and gone the wrong way, yet, such beautiful writing and the various perspectives made this into a wonderful piece of literature. It did get a little confusing at times but was worth the persistence.
I'll be honest, this book ended up being totally unlike anything I expected it to be - but in a really, really good way. I didn't think I would get so heavily invested in the characters. And I definitely didn't think that I'd be bawling my eyes out less than 20% of the way through. This was an edge-of-your-seat kind of novel that, while it was written years ago, ends up tapping into the current global situation in a masterful way. In the year 2025, a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland - and it 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 and the virus has become a global pandemic, as well as a political one. The book is an immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the consequences of the virus, and it's all told in first person narratives. From Dr. MacClean to intelligence analyst Dawn; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague to Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine, the women give readers insight into the start of the plague and beyond. It was clear how carefully the author had plotted out the book and how much research had gone into the writing process. It felt like Sweeney-Baird had really done a deep-dive into the possible eventualities from a worldwide pandemic, and how the people around the world may react.
Wow what a Book , This book is so close to what is going on at the moment with the covid 19 pandemic we are going through I got goosebumps reading this book especially how close to home this book is. I would recommend everyone read this amazing book. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Netgalley & Harper Fiction for sending me the arc of this book in exchange for this honest review.
I began reading this just as we went into a second lockdown for Covid-19. I suspect that added a certain realism and creepy feeling to the plot that may not have been so evident if I had read this last year. The plot centres around an outbreak of a virus in Scotland that quickly spreads around the world. "The Plague" as it becomes known only affects men and women are carriers. Starting with flu-like symptoms, any man or male child that catches it, dies within a couple of days. There is no treatment and no cure. 10% of the worlds male population are immune, all the other are at risk. The book explores the collapse of the political elite throughout the world as the men die and woman take over, it brushes over the difficulties countries face, replacing their workers in male dominated careers, from garbage men to fire-fighters to scientist and how the world needs to retrain and re-develop their education programmes. It looks at how the world can be carried by woman who are grieving the loss of their partners, brothers, fathers and children. It follows the stories of a number of people around the world as societies have to adapt to the new world order and races to find a vaccine. I LOVED this book. The emotions it covered and the whole concept was original and well thought out. It covered topics I would never have thought of which gave it a greater feeling of realism and following the development of the plague through the eyes of the various characters was a good way of covering it. One of those books that will remain with me long after I have finished it. Highly recommended. Deserves every one of my 5 stars. Thank you for allowing me to preview this excellent read
In a bizarre twist of fate I started reading The End of Men during a pandemic, on the day my son was confirmed as having Covid, a day later I was also confirmed as having it. Being a mother of two sons and wife in this story I would be set to lose my whole family, it made for uncomfortable reading at times. I found The End of Men a fascinating story, insightful and a warning as to what could happen in a similar scenario to what we are currently experiencing. Featuring lots of characters and their stores, it was truly gripping. I couldn't put it down.
An uncanny thriller to read in 2020 - about a virus that decimates half the populations. The many different perspectives were really well-written, and effective in showing how a broad cross-section of the population was affected. Genuinely unputdownable, but don't read yet if you feel the plot hits too close to home.
Wow what a fantastic book i could not put it down. I debated whether or not it was a good idea to read about a plague in a pandemic but i decided what the heck :) it was fantastic so pleased i read this, have already recommended to everyone i have been speaking to :) thanks for the opportunity to read
What a cracking page turner that really sets the pace from page one and keeps going. Reading this in the middle of a pandemic just gives that extra bit of interest and perspective. There is realism with how the deadly make plague was mishandled and then blamed, that we all can relate to. There is the relief that covid is nowhere near as deadly as the make plague. And the stories of individual loss, gains and how the world evolved in a new order to cope with the changes just keeps the reading light on way after bed time.
I was nervous going into this book - was reading a book about a global pandemic really the best option during a global pandemic? To begin with, I worried that no, it wasn’t a good idea. There were too many parallels between the real world and the novel (though the plague in the book so infinitely worse than our current situation). But as I continued reading I was surprised, heartened and pleased to see that this is a book about hope. Yes, it’s about grief, devastation, the destruction of everything we know, but that’s only half of the story. It’s also a story of rebuilding, human connection, love and striving for a better future. It’s a story of human ingenuity and the best, and worst, that extremes bring out of people. More than anything, it’s a well-written, emotive and powerful book. The characters are all well formed and the breadth that the author covers is admirable - not just how people cope with the death of so many husbands, sons, brothers, fathers - but also how this affects parenthood, politics, international relations, tech, LGBTQ+ rights, education and so much more. Reading this book at the moment might seem off putting to begin with, and I won’t deny that the opening third of this book bought me to tears and horrified me on several occasions, but for me, it was worth powering through.
This book is going to be huge next year! And probably on my favourite books of 2021 when we finally get there! I loved the premise and I have turned down many books about viruses this year as it felt too “close” but the book seemed prophetic in its plot development that grabbed me in a way I hadn’t expected it to. Its an intelligently written book that felt unique in its approach to post apocalyptic fiction and very realistic as well. The women characters at the forefront of the storyline were well developed, strong and interesting and I followed their journeys with an investment in their future. Some stories were absolutely heartbreaking as women lost the men in their lives but the positive mind sets and determination of some felt inspiring and hopeful. This is such a brilliant book and I devoured. every single page.
I have always loved dystopian novels, particularly ones concerned with the aftermath of a world-changing plague or pandemic, particular favourites including Emily St John Mandel's "Station Eleven" and Stephen King's "The Stand." I did wonder whether the events of 2020 might impair my enjoyment of this genre going forward, but I'm happy to say that doesn't seem to be the case: I love, love, LOVED this beautifully written novel with its intriguing and original premise: a super-flu with an almost 100% fatality rate, but only in men. What follows is the gradual unravelling of how a world adapts and changes - some of which is eerily familiar given the events of the last year, and some of which is pertinent only to this particular plot, ie, how a society can continue to ensure the functioning of certain sectors which were predominantly staffed by males, such as security, refuse collection, and police departments; how dating and procreation can work in a landscape where men are vastly outnumbered by women; how the LGBTQ+ community is impacted, etc. I loved how the narrative unfolded on different continents and via different narrators, and also how each character's arc was completely unique, even if there were certain similarities across the board. This is such a thorough and well-told story, and one that deals with genuinely intriguing questions, even as it completely fulfils its brief of being a page-turning thriller dealing with a global pandemic and mass infection. I couldn't put this book down, and will absolutely recommend it to everyone I know. A fantastic novel, and I can't wait to see what this author does next. Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher, who provided me with a free ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
"The End of Men" by Christina Sweeney-Baird is a gripping story seems much more realistic now than it would have a year ago! In this narrative a virus breaks out that only affects men (though women are carriers), threatening the future of the human race, if a vaccine is not found in time. Once infected, male victims are overcome in a matter of days. The fabric of society needs to change very quickly as women are required to fulfill the roles of their stricken male colleagues. Of course, some women are more seriously affected than others depending on the composition of their family circle's which leads to further resentment. The author has created a believable scenario with realistic characters, each presented with different problems due to their individual circumstances. I particularly enjoyed the post-vaccine chapters as people try to deal with issues in a female dominated world.
I was worried that reading a book about a global flu like pandemic while being on lockdown during an actual real time global pandemic would be too unsettling and macabre but I could not put this book down. It is so well written and the characters were all very relatable. It made me laugh and cry at times but totally absorbed me. The fact the author wrote this in 2018 is quite spooky as there are many similarities but the pandemic in the book is much much worse so that is quite comforting. The virus only affects males but can be carried by women so quite soon the world is in a perilous situation as men hold most senior jobs and positions of power when they all die quite suddenly how will the world be run. As well as looking at how individuals and families are changed by this virus it also looks at society and the way we live our lives. A really fascinating read which really made me think about society, grief and politics.
The story of a catastrophic pandemic, spreading swiftly throughout the world, and its impact on the people it doesn’t kill. Infecting only men (while women are carriers), even in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic this tale packs a punch. Across the world, men fall victim and die, leaving women having to recreate order from the chaos that ensues. Told from many perspectives ‘The End of Men’ delivers a gripping storyline, of courage, determination, grief and remembrance. I was hooked from the start and read it in two sittings. It stays with you, as now these events don’t feel quite as improbable as they once would have. With my thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this novel in return for my honest review. I approached 'The End of Men' with rather a lot of trepidation. I know that there will inevitably be a deluge of literature about the current Covid-19 pandemic, but I'm looking forward to reading it retrospectively, once we're no-longer in lockdown: when I'm no-longer worrying about what I'm allowed to do, how to keep loved ones safe and, for goodness sake, I'm allowed to leave the house for more than three government-sanctioned reasons. It seems too soon to start reading plague literature and I was really concerned that this book may trigger all of my current anxieties. Strangely, the reverse happened. If this book had been published in 2019, I would have categorised it as dystopia, possibly even feminist. In 2021 however, it reads as a fictional, exaggerated account of recent history, a point that has not gone unnoticed by the author. This is not, however, about Covid. In fact it was written just before the current pandemic. 'The Plague' is a readily-spread virus which sweeps through the world at an alarming rate, carried by men and women, young and old. Within hours of the first deaths, a doctor recognises that it is killing its male hosts within days of them contracting it, but only men. And so whilst many things are alarmingly similar to our current situation, so many other things are much, much worse. In a way, my reading of this book has actually settled my nerves as the news no-longer seems quite as extreme. Outside of the times within which it is being published, this would always have been a great read, and it's one of the best things I've read in ages. The multiple-character perspective sheds light on how a pandemic affects journalists, doctors, scientists, politicians, married and unmarried women, and even one man. It questions how society is constructed, and challenges the role of women within society, without being overtly feminist in its tone, and this is refreshing. It's a fast-paced, well-characterised and well-plotted science-fiction thriller. I can see it being enormously popular, and 'The End of Men' would sit comfortably next to novels such as 'The Handmaid's Tale', 'Never Let You Go' and 'Nineteen-Eighty-Four'. A fabulous read!
Written before the current Covid crisis, this makes for a gripping, fascinating and timely read. I couldn't put it down as the pandemic unfolded in a frighteningly accurate reflection of our current daily news broadcasts. A highly emotive story.
I’ve just finished reading, and I’m shocked. Parts of this book, particularly the opening were horrifying - acutely visceral. It left me wanting to hug all the people I love. Especially at this time of global pandemic. But somehow it was exactly the book I wanted to read right now, and left me feeling hopeful and in love with the world. After the initial emotional clobbering, the story gives a platform to imagine how a world would function without (or with very few) men. What society would look like, and how we might strive for normality. This is interesting as the story follows a social anthropologist as one of the main characters, and she records how the world changes. I love the focus - it reads a lot like ‘World War Z’ as a collection of personal stories. Some in the first person, some magazine clippings, and some third person which in loved because it gave a sense of perspective. I would have liked to see a wider global perspective. It’s very thoroughly focused on the UK, US and mentions other countries in passing including China, Singapore and the Philippines. And there were definitely some points about how a future without men would have worked in the UK that didn't make sense to me, but then, I'm a man, and this was fascinating to read about. I really enjoyed this book, and would absolutely recommend it to fans of books like 'Earth Abides', 'Invisible Women' and 'World War Z'. I read the kindle version alongside the audiobook, which was immersive and used a few different voices to give a real-life perspective. It definitely adds to the material. More thoughts to come. Thank you to NetGalley for the Advance Copy
Such an interesting topic for the moment. Whilst reading, it is easy to forget which pandemic is the real one and, confuse fact with fiction. The concept of a world without men might be appealing at times, but it highlights the 'be careful what you wish for' when reading the possible consequences. It is a compelling novel, as it is well written, with the story moving on constantly, without unnecessary infills.
Wow! This is just an extraordinary book. It is so hard to know how I would have reacted to it if I'd read it at any other time. I expect I would have thought, yep, good read, maybe a bit far-fetched. However, reading it still deep in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic it seems frighteningly real. Despite largely writing this book in 2018 it is remarkably prescient. A story about a plague that affects men and spreads rapidly across the world almost wiping out men altogether. It's a surprisingly easy read. Short chapters. Characters who develop throughout the story and characters who appear just for one chapter, but a story told from multiple points of view. From the doctor who discovered the first patient, Patient Zero, the scientists searching for and developing a vaccine, the ordinary people affected in devastaing ways losing their husbands and sons to the disease, the governments around the world. I often consider at the moment the new words and phrases that have becom all too commmon in our vocabulary in 2020 and early 2021. Social distancing. Stay at home. Efficacy. These all crop up in the book. I follow what is happening around the world in the coronavirus pandemic very closely and at times I was so engrossed in the book that I lost track of what was real and what was fiction. Thankfully, whilst we are living through difficult times we are not in such a dire situation as Sweeney-Baird's imagined world and if anything this book gives hope that things really will recover around the world soon.
A really excellent read. Despite being a little too close for comfort I really loved this. Pacy, emotive, thought-provoking and ultimately a reminder of the strength of love and human connection.
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 our world truly look like without men? . So real!!! What a gripping thriller. This was a very disturbing but good read. Thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish and could not get enough of. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good thriller!! Absolutely loved the characters, the plot, the tension - impossible to put it down. I hope the vaccine save all too!!! Thanks netgalley
I'm blown away that this was finished being written in June of 2019. It's surreal to read a book about a global pandemic in the midst of a global pandemic. It is so creepy and prescient. She nails so much of what ending up coming to fruition. I can't imagine wanting to read any of the lockdown inspired memoirs or Contagion wannabe books in 2023; but highly recommend losing yourself in this. I really enjoyed it, right down to the obnoxious Dr. Lisa Michael.
Wow! What a book. Incredibly thought provoking. This isn't a book about a virus, whilst that is what happens. This book is about society. Excellently written and certainly a journey to read whilst very uncomfortable in places. It's an interesting read because would I feel the same if I had read it pre-Covid 19 pandemic and would that have instilled a fear that I was going to lose the majority of my family. I work in a male dominated industry, so this story made me think about all aspects of my life and what differences I would face. I really enjoyed this and would love to see the author continue the story. I do not have spoilers in my reviews but I would recommend this book, I did enjoy it. Even though it was uncomfortable to read, because of the topic and the current world we're living in. I think this book is going to stay with me for a long time. Provoking further thoughts around Diversity and Inclusivity. Especially, how this would effect LGBTQ+ community. If nothing else, this book taps into how diverse we need society to be. Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book for an honest review.
The perfect novel for a pandemic. Dr McLean is central as she watches a pandemic from beginning to vaccine for survival. I don’t want to give any spoilers but this is SUPERB
so i'm in a run of pandemic books, as someone who has been very panicky about our current situation i don't know WHY, but i'm enjoying it. there's something about embracing the panic and leaning in to the end of the world feeling this particular one is about a flu that kills 90% of men starting in 2024. i kept comparing it to covid and the response and the death rate which made it even scarier but i really liked this one! it follows a range of people, from the doctor who first discovers it, to scientists working on a vaccine and all the people in between. it jumps from year to year, showing long terms effects, including some really interesting consequences i would never have thought about and i love the big and small details being scottish and reading barely any books set there, there was an odd thrill at that being the start of the outbreak. a claim to fame i really enjoyed the audiobook! i have the ebook version as well so i read along at a few bits but mainly listened, horrified at the way the world was ending. because it was a whole cast it was really fun to listen to! the writing was great, the characters were all so different, and i would recommend
A very apt book which is about an awful pandemic which they call the plague which affects 90% of the worlds men. Told from different viewpoints across the world and of the women who lose husbands and sons and who go onto achieve greatness. A story about humanity and characters who grow. Fabulous book
This is stunningly good. Difficult to believe it was written before the current situation when it comes across as being fresh and topical. It is well written and gripping and the writer makes good use of multi-viewpoint characters to tell the tale. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for allowing me to read an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
The year is 2025 and a mysterious virus has broken out - a lethal illness that only affects men. What follows is a wonderful debut from Christina Sweeney-Baird. Not only is the science compelling but also the unfolding reaction across the world as the horror of the virus dawns on everyone. The details of a changing, frightened public are excellent as the female population takes over while grieving the loss of their families as they search for a cure and keep society functioning.
Reading this book would make an impact in normal times: reading it in the middle of a pandemic was harrowing. But this didn't put me off, as I devoured this book. I couldn't put it down. It's beautifully written, and even though the narrative is split between multiple narrative voices, I was drawn in to their situation. What interested me most, though, was that although this novel has - justifiably - been compared to Naomi Alderman's The Power, in that it depicts a world in which women become the dominant gender, it takes a very different approach. Men in this novel are not generally depicted as oppressors or abusers, but as loving and loved husbands, fathers and children, and their loss is deeply felt. Indeed, as the active period of the pandemic is dealt with in the first third of the novel, the rest becomes a study of grief and recuperation, as Sweeny-Baird explores what it might be like if the experience of recent bereavement was universal. Although there are hints as the novel goes on that things have changed profoundly, in that society is now shaped around women in a way it has never been before, that doesn't cancel out the loss of so many loved ones. Overall, I though this book was well-written, sensitive and compelling, and I predict it's going to be a runaway bestseller when it's published. I certainly intend to buy copies for my friends (and I don't often say that about a book).
I was absolutely blown away by this debut from Christina Sweeney-Baird and The End Of Men is definitely one of those books that will stay in my head for a long time to come. Written pre-Covid, this tale of a global pandemic systematically effecting the male population is so clever and so prescient that the boundaries of fact and fiction continually crossed over in my reading. The book is structured through the stories of an array of women from normal everyday people, to medical professionals, to researchers, to those working on vaccines, with each of their voices brilliantly well-defined throughout. It was impossible to not make a personal connection with at least some of these women experiencing either the loss of the men in their lives, or those becoming empowered in their own right without male influence. It’s fair to say that the reader will experience a gamut of emotions in the course of this book as it ebbs and flows from extreme emotion and poignancy to the world of cold hard facts and the development of a global cure for this decimating virus. Having recently read Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, I was extremely taken with the way that Sweeney-Baird begins to structure her world where women move into the foreground of previously very male dominated institutions and employment. She demonstrates clearly in this novel how the world does indeed march to the will of men from politics, to academia, to very normal everyday things as the designs of simple objects that work for men only. Beautifully researched and a totally absorbing rendition of a fictional world that now in the light of current times doesn’t seem that far from reality. Highly recommended.
Wow, don’t want to speak too soon but this definitely the book to read of 2021, I understand that to some it might feel like it’s a bit close to home but it’s a great read. The way the story was told and it flows so naturally and I loved all of the characters stories.
Christina Sweeney-Baird has produced something really special. A book about a pandemic, that you can read whilst living through a pandemic without feeling alarmed. I thought the premise was excellent and enjoyed contemplating some of the questions and issues raised. From the opening page, I was hooked. My favourite character was Helen. Her scenes with errant husband Sean which occur later in the book are hilarious and so relatable. As a Scot, I loved the sections of the book set here and the notion of an Independent Republic of Scotland. Of course I loved Amanda too and felt her frustration seeping from the pages. "The End of Men" would make a brilliant book club choice due to the scope for extensive discussion. I would read it again.
The End Of Men is an extremely readable, fast moving, debut novel; I couldn’t put it down! The Great Male Plague kills men within hours of symptoms developing. Patient Zero is from a small island in Scotland and brings the virus to a Glasgow hospital where it sweeps across the world. The story starts five days before the first death and follows the world’s reaction up to 1745 days after. Short chapters are narrated by different characters and include a doctor, scientist, anthropologist, conspiracy theorist and government worker amongst others. The story explores the effect on society of the loss of men and sees the scientific world working towards a vaccine, to food rationing to the attempt to repopulate countries after this devastation. One aspect I found particularly interesting and thought provoking is how certain professions dominated by men are left decimated - police, army, navy, fire services, paramedics, security services, refuse collectors - leaving compulsory work drafts and training for the women who are left to fill these roles At times this story is devastatingly sad but juxtaposed with that are stories of ambitions and hopes for the future. A must read if you can cope with dystopian pandemic fiction!
What a debut!! This had me hooked from the first page! I couldn't put it down. The story begins in 2025 with Dr Amanda McLean, an A&E doctor in Glasgow. While on shift she discovers a new virus, later named The Great Male Plaque, which kills men within hours. Amanda reported this to the Health Service, who ignore her concerns as they are too busy (eye rolling moment). Needless to say, the virus continues to spread, being transmitted from assymptomatic women onto men and begins to show throughout the world. I can honestly say, this is one of the scariest books I've read. Reading about mums who are scared to go near their sons for fear of transmitting the virus, mums that had to sit and watch their babies die. Thankfully, the author doesn't go into detail about them dying but the writing really makes you feel their loss. There are a lot of similarities in this book in regards to our present situation but there were lots of interesting changes in the world. A world where females are having to be recruited into the male dominant roles such as the army, the police and fire service. A world with more leaders making decisions on how to repopulate the earth with hardly any surviving males. This book gave me all the feels, I was scared, heartbroken but hopeful. This is obviously a book about a pandemic whilst we are living through a pandemic but it gives us reason to be thankful for what really matters and hope that there is light at the end of this really long tunnel. Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins for the advanced copy.
I was really looking forward to this debut novel as I am a big fan of apocalyptic fiction and I was not disappointed. Set in the near future, it tells of a virus that affects only men but is carried by women. The story follows various threads from the women trying to protect their families, the scientists seeking to find a vaccine and the woman who channels her grief and loss into providing a social history of these awful times. I flew through this. Given that we have been in lockdown on and off for a year, this was a timely novel but thought provoking yet not maudlin or morbid. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to read more offerings by this author. Thank you for the opportunity from Net Galley to read it in return for an honest review
Wow - this for me is a contender for my book of 2021. I’m not normally a fan of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction but in view of the current pandemic, I thought it would be an interesting read. It was a moving, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story which I would highly recommend, with the proviso that some readers might find it too close to home and too upsetting. Highly recommended and thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Christina Sweeney-Baird certainly managed to find a fortuitous time to tell her story. The End of Men tells the tale of a particularly nasty virus which wipes out a large proportion of the male population. Amazingly, Christina started writing The End of Men before the Coronavirus pandemic started and then had a chance to make edits and tweaks while watching how a similar situation was unfolding around her before publishing it in 2021. This feels very important for this book as older ‘pandemic’ stories seem to lose their realism now we know what would actually happen and the idea of a new story based on current events just makes me roll my eyes (I’m sure there will be a lot of those coming!) What we get instead is an outstanding debut novel which is touching, heart-breaking and poignant and also gives us an important message about our patriarchal society. The story is told through snippets of lived experience. We meet a lot of characters; some of whom stay with us all the way through, some come in for a chapter or two and then leave, some are intertwined and some stand alone. It’s a great way of telling the story and keeps it fresh throughout. The first half of the book is mostly about the world changing as the virus takes hold – it’s a very scary disease and really makes you thankful that the Coronavirus wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been. It’s an inevitability that any man you meet in the book is likely to die and there’s a real helplessness for the women left behind who just have to watch it happen whilst also knowing that they are completely safe. It pulls no punches with the writing and is very heart-breaking in places. The second half of the book focuses of finding the vaccine and the changing of society without the men. It’s a really fascinating read and threw up a lot of scenarios I had not considered. For example, women are safer because safety equipment is built with their frames in mind rather than modified/smaller versions of male equipment. I liked the idea that China had fallen because all of its army and political parties were male and how women were learning traditional ‘male’ jobs to make society work again. With the #NotAllMen and Sarah Everard case in the background, this book really picks up on the female struggle at the moment as well. Overall, The End of Men is a heart-breaking story which has been told at a perfect time in history for us to fully appreciate it. The book is highly recommended and received a Kindig Gem for 2021. Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction & The Borough Press for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I chose to read and review a free eARC of The End of Men but that has in no way influenced my review. Oh.My.Goodness! This book is incredible. After the last year or so, you'll understand why I have been purposefully avoiding all fiction which involves a virus or a pandemic. Too close to home. Far, far too close to home. But Sweeney-Baird's debut intrigued me. I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. However, I don't read anywhere near enough. The End of Men has without doubt reignited my love of this compelling, thought-provoking genre. This book is an absolute must-read! On a normal shift in A&E, Dr Amanda Maclean makes a shocking discovery. Male patients and staff in the hospital are coming down with a mystery illness which, within a few days, kills them. Dr Maclean recognises the risk and tries to put emergency measures into place to control the spread of the virus. But she's thwarted at every turn by those higher up the food chain. Before long the virus - named by Dr Maclean as the Plague - is taking over and spreading faster than anyone could imagine. As the World struggles to find a vaccine, the question on everyone's lips is: could this be the end of men....? Absolutely superb and frighteningly real. The author has included a note at the start of the novel which explains how the book was written before COVID came into our lives. I wonder how the author felt as she watched the news stories building day by day. The virus in The End of Men is, of course, not the same as COVID but there are similarities which can't be ignored. Anyway, enough talk of COVID. I only mentioned it because I think it's impossible to ignore our own experience of a pandemic when you're discussing a book about a pandemic! So instead let's imagine a world where virtually everyone you meet is female. All of the men - the husbands, the sons, the fathers, the brothers, the uncles - have died. A few men are immune but the odds aren't great, only 1 in 10. Every other male is guaranteed to die because there is no stopping the Plague. Women carry the virus but don't become ill. There is no vaccine, shielding can help but only for so long. It's a death sentence and there's nothing that can be done. Now think of all of the professions where the large majority of people qualified are men (not exclusively men but the majority). Pilots, electricians, refuse workers, the army, the police force, the list goes on. The implications of the author's scary new world are far reaching and it was a real eye opener for this reader. The slow realisation of what no men would, in reality, actually mean. The End of Men is the true definition a page turner. I couldn't put this book down as I was desperate to find out what revelation the author was going to share with me next. We follow the lives of several woman and watch how grief, uncertainly and a complete change in lifestyle affect them. Some, surprisingly, for the better. For a lot of the woman in this novel, the painful loss of some or all of their family, was devastating. My heart broke on several occasions and I particularly felt for Catherine. Catherine is an anthropologist who features throughout the book and decides to record the stories of the Plague for future reference. I loved Catherine who was unapologetic in her grief, devoted to her loving husband and adorable son. I looked forward to hearing from her and I longed for her story to finish on a high note. Whether it does or not, you'll have to find out for yourself. Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The End of Men is a must read for all. Intelligent, poignant, devastating and totally absorbing. This is another stunning debut for 2021 which I heartily recommend. Another strong contender for my 'books of the year' list. I struggled to put this one down and on the odd occasion where I did, I was desperate to pick it up again and return to the author's world. Such an emotional, well thought out and captivating piece of fiction that I hope flies off the shelves. It absolutely deserves to! Highly recommended. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The End of Men. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
What an special and well written novel. Christina would not have known how close to home this novel would be when she wrote it. Reading about the Plague which killed only men, only a few of whom were immune, was very emotional at times as the race for a vaccine began. Heart wrenching incidents when all male relatives were infected and died- often alone. There is a lot of similarities with what we have all been through and are still undergoing with the corona virus pandemic - isolation, death of loved ones etc.
This is an addictive read. This is the kind of book I love, even without the Covid pandemic adding to the mix. I really liked the way the book was narrated from many voices worldwide and not only dealt with medical effects but how the virus in The End of Men affected people emotionally. A recommended read.
I found this book much more chilling than I ever expected. Not only is the subject matter disturbingly relevant, as we remain in lockdown during a global pandemic, but the writing and multiple perspectives open up layers of experience and grief which is starkly wrought on every page. Christina Sweeney-Baird has written a stunning debut with 'The End of Men', detailing the impact of the 'New Plague' which rapidly wipes out 90% of the global male population. Sweeney-Baird explore the social, political and economic ramifications of such a disease, stretching from the moment of discovery to 6 years later. Throughout the story, we circle the globe, delving into stories men and women whose lives are torn apart by the horrific illness. We are introduced to some strong women, such as Amanda, who tries to raise the alarm and is tragically ignored, to Catherine, an anthropology professor dealing with fertility problems, along with their sons and husbands. Although the death of many male characters is inevitable given the premise of the novel, the deaths of those close to these main women were incredibly emotional and haunting. After the disease has ravaged the male population, Sweeney-Baird explores the obvious after-effects, including food shortages, conscription and the race for a vaccine, but also intriguing elements like fertility programmes. Sweeney-Baird has thought this through in great detail to present a chilling and affecting alternative reality. Overall, this novel is even more impactful due to our current circumstances and demonstrates how much more horrific a global pandemic could have been. However, the failings of the governments in the novel are far too close to reality for comfort. A very gripping and timely novel indeed. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher who provided an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Throughout this book, I was staggered by the idea that the author wrote it before our current global pandemic even began. It goes to show how thorough her research must have been that the whole thing rings incredibly true with what we have experienced over the last 15 months. The End of Men tells the story of a virus that sweeps the earth at an alarming rate, spreading with ease and fatal within days. But the only people vulnerable to it are men. Women can carry the disease, and spread it, but they can't catch it. As the world descends into panic, the infrastructure and power dynamics shift as women step into roles previously dominating by the rapidly dwindling male population. I have to admit, this is the bit I was intrigued by. Who hasn't wondered 'How would things be different if the world was ruled by women?' But there is a lot more to this book than that, and it was something that caught me by surprise and stayed with me long after I finished reading. As well as exploring what might happen on a macro level, the author takes us down to the micro level, inviting us into different characters' lives and showing us the devastation as they lose partners, fathers and sons. It's beautifully written and carefully captured, and left me reeling.
The End of Men By Christina Sweeney- Baird made for uncomfortable reading at times , given what the world has gone through over the last year, but at the same time I was absolutely hooked on the story she was telling. Told through the voices of a number of characters in various settings around the world, from the remote Scottish Highlands to a boat off the coast of Iceland to the CDC in America and laboratories in Toronto and London, this is the story of a viral illness that drastically changes the world as we know it in just a matter of weeks, so far, so familiar. However here the story departs dramatically from our current experiences. This virus is far more fatal, killing its victims in days, and only kills men. While women can carry the virus they do not show any symptoms, and fewer than one in ten men are immune. The virus replicates rapidly and with no vaccine in sight, effectively that means that within weeks the world is forced to come to terms with a life largely without men. What I found particularly compelling about the book was how carefully the author had considered even the smallest knock on effects of this- down to a shortage of tea due to an almost complete halt of shipping, as well as the larger effects in fields like medicine and research which are heavily male dominated. I also thought her handling of the social issues was very interesting, e.g. formal policies for IVF to try to rebuild the population once a vaccine is found, what this virus meant for communities like the LGBTQI+, which were already minorities, but now found their numbers decimated even further, and even what it felt like to be one of the few immune men left ,and what it was like for the wives, mothers and others who had to watch their loved ones die. One of the most powerful and compelling books I have read this year, and one I would recommend to everyone. I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the Publisher, all opinions are my own.
"The world has changed immeasurably...Women are not 57 per cent more likely to die of heart attacks because treatment protocols have changed to recognise the different symptoms men and women experience. The first drug ever to treat endometriosis has been discovered...Female police officers, fire fighters and members of the armed forces are now less likely to die doing their jobs because they have uniforms designed for them, rather than simply wearing men's...I could go on..." In 2025 in a Glasgow hospital, an influx of male patients with sepsis symptoms who die quickly terrifies Dr Amanda Maclean, who also fears for husband Will and their sons. Her calls for help go unheeded and the unknown virus sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed. By the time the authorities listen to her it has spread globally and men and boys are dieing everywhere. In London, anthropologist Catherine Lawrence fears for beloved husband Anthony and todller son, Theodore, but begins documenting events and reactions. In Canada, virologist Dr Lisa Michael reads the news coming out of the UK and gets involved to find a vaccine. In Washington, journalist Maria Ferreira challenges the authorities, reporting on 'the Great Male Plague'. Will a vaccine be found before it is the end of men? To provide context, this book was written before the current Covid panemic, yet it describes with startling accuracy the potential turn of events and their impacts without hyperbole. Documenting the outbreak and spread, fear, loss, grief and aftermath, of this global pandemic. It follows the lives of four women primarily, but dips in and out of many others, along with surviving men who were immune, describing experiences and emotions. Whilst tragic, it's filled with relatable characters, shot with stark realism and demonstrates hope for their future in this female-dominated world. An electrifying, engrossing and thought-provoking debut.
This book was amazing. I loved it and devoured it in a day! It stays with you long after you put it down and really makes you think. I'm so glad our actual pandemic wasn't anything like this. Well done.
This book may hit a bit close to home for some readers so please go into this aware of all the triggers In view of what we’ve all experienced over the past year I didn’t wonder if I wanted to read a book about a virus..... But... This post apocalyptic dystopian story was fabulously written and kept me gripped all the way through. Definitely a contender for my top 10 of 2021
And we thought Corona virus was bad! This story of a plague that halves the world's population was conceived and written before the real-life pandemic swept the world, and how prescient it now seems! From the moment a doctor in Glasgow spots the pattern of men falling ill with a flu-like illness then dying within days, to the establishment of a new world order, where women take the helm, this is a truly gripping read! As their menfolk, from great-grandfathers to newborn babies, die off, the main players in this story - all women - race to discover how and why this is happening, and, most importantly, to find a solution before it's too late. And so we meet Catherine, an anthropologist, who has lost husband and toddler son; Amanda, a doctor whose husband and teenage sons have died; Elizabeth, an epidemiologist trying to find the cause and Lisa, a virologist hoping to discover the cure - and bag herself the Nobel Prize in the process. There's also Maria Ferreira, New York investigative journalist, asking searching questions. These women's narratives run through the book, pushing the story on from 2025, when the plague first strikes, to 2030 when the world has completely changed. Interspersed are the stories of other women and their families and how they cope, from Frances whose husband is stuck on a cruise ship off Iceland to Irina in Moscow who wonders how unlucky she must be that her abusive husband Ivan is one of the 1 in 10 males immune to the disease! As folks don masks and practise social distancing, countries close their borders, there are shortages of food and riots in the street - it all sounds terrifyingly familiar, doesn't it? As well as reflecting - to some extent - our present dilemma - this story addresses so many issues. In a world descended into chaos, the difference between men and women - not just the physiological that makes men susceptible to the plague - but the way they see the world and their place in it, is highlighted in all the strong and poignant situations that have to be faced by the surviving women and the few males still around. Add to that questions about balance of power, love, loss and grief; greed and selflessness, and you have one really powerful story, tightly woven together through multiple viewpoints. As Amanda reflects sombrely at one point, "none of this had to happen", you find yourself asking, was men's greed to blame? It's a question the author wisely stops short of asking - it would be too simplistic to give a yes or no answer - but it's certainly one to reflect on as you finish the book and give thanks that our current situation while devastating for so many, and life-changing in many ways, hopefully won't mean the end of the human race.
What a book! The develop this concept of a pandemic of global consequences a year before Covid 19 hit the human race was prescience at its best. Then to develop the story on the spread of the virus that only affected the human male and the immediate after affect for women is brilliant as it shows the how women adapted to all but 10% of the male population surviving. Even the development of a vaccine showed that collaboration between individuals, scientific institutions and governments can and have to work to develop and produce solutions. The personal development of individual women was well made when they were faced with a combination of tragic loss of the males within families and then the loss of male dominated workplaces that simply had to continue to ensure that society could recover as quickly as possible before collapse. A well-timed book that makes us really think and hopefully better enables the human race to prepare for such events and hopefully eliminate probable causes in the future.
Firstly, a disclaimer – this book was written in 2019, before anyone had heard of Covid 19! The author herself has added details about this at the start of the book. It isn’t based on what the world has experienced in 2020 / 2021 – but the whole coronavirus crisis does make it so much more believable. I’d seen this book on a few ‘books for 2021’ lists – and was lucky enough to be given an advance review copy by NetGalley. Here’s the blurb: “Glasgow, 2025. Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a young man with a mild fever. Within three hours he dies. The mysterious illness sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed. This is how it begins. The victims are all men. Dr Maclean raises the alarm, but the sickness spreads to every corner of the globe. Threatening families. Governments. Countries. Can they find a cure before it’s too late? Will this be the story of the end of the world – or its salvation? Compelling, confronting and devastating, The End of Men is the novel that everyone is talking about.“ The book starts in Glasgow being told from Dr Amanda Maclean’s viewpoint when she first identifies this new virus that seems to be killing only men but being carried asymptomatically by women. She tries to quickly raise the alarm – but is dismissed as being a hysterical woman and so it takes a while for it to be taken seriously. Subsequent chapters are told by different points of view from around the globe. Mostly these are women – because only 9% of men are immune. It deals with horrific grief, jealousy, death, fear, changes to governments, jobs, vaccines, rationing – and the various stories are all intertwined over about 4 years from the initial diagnosis. I think the fact we’re all going through a global pandemic makes some of the things that may have been considered far fetched – are actually potentially more imaginable. Rationing of food? Deciding who can and can not have children? Enforced labour? Thankfully a few steps further than the lockdowns we’ve endured – but not complete pie in the sky after the last 14 months. I found some of it incredibly moving – in particular the women giving birth and not knowing if they’d have a daughter who would live, or a son who would probably die within days. Also, the rationing of ‘normal’ medical supplies to people who actually stood a chance of living – rather than men with the plague or the elderly made you question how close the UK could have got to that? We all know how much the coronavirus pandemic has delayed cancer diagnoses – for example – but how much worse could it have been? The ethics of discovering a vaccine was also part of the storyline – and who the intellectual property rights do or should belong to! Thank goodness Astra Zeneca are distributing their covid vaccine at cost. Dr Amanda is determined to uncover the initial cause of the virus in patient zero – and the similarities with the suspected start of Covid 19 are spooky, and does question the treatment of animals in foreign countries. The relationships built between some of the characters in the book also evolve really well. Overall I found the book incredibly well written and thought provoking. I had an early download – so I’m hoping a couple of the continuity errors have been sorted (Devon becomes Suffolk and then back to Devon again at one point!) – but these did not detract from an excellent book. I would highly recommend this debut novel. A huge thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my ARC.
What an incredible, gripping, moving, hopeful book! Five stars from me no doubt about it. There’s a deadly virus ravaging the world, women carry it but only men can die from it. The book tells the story from different perspectives all across the world, detailing the heartbreak and loss of people losing their husbands and brothers and dads, to the race for a vaccine, and women essentially running the world. I tried to read another book about a pandemic while living in COVID-19 lockdown, and had to abandon it because it was way too close to the bone. Yet this book had me captivated (initially just from the title alone I must admit!) and I would highly recommend it!
What a stunning book! It was quite eerie to read it during a real-life pandemic as so much of how the virus unfolds is horribly familiar. The book begins mundanely enough looking at the ordinary lives of a few different characters. Of course their lives are about to be turned upside down, not that they know it. The first inkling that there is a serious problem comes at a hospital in Glasgow, where a couple of men die in quick succession and it isn't really clear why they have died. Symptoms develop very quickly and men are dead within just a few days. Amanda, a doctor at the hospital, recognises that there is a lethal virus spreading and quickly understands that women must carry it, as the same nurse treated the first victims. The speed with which the virus grows is utterly terrifying. It isn't on the same scale as Covid-19 - in the book, 90 percent of men who catch "the Plague" die and only around 10 percent of men are immune. But there are still horrible echoes of what's going on in the real world. There is a growing sense of panic as people scrabble to adjust to a world where everything must be disinfected, social contact must be limited, masks must be worn, and so on. The book is great at describing the awful impact of the pandemic on individuals. I particularly like the character of Catherine, who is living in London with her husband Anthony and son Theodore when the pandemic hits. She loses both of them. The description of how this happens, and her long-term grief that follows, is heartbreaking. What the book also does really well is conjure up a world where the overwhelming majority of men have disappeared and investigates what this would mean. So, because men made up the majority of armies and police, there's initial breakdowns in order because there simply aren't the state forces available to contain resistance. Women have to retrain in hundreds of different roles in order to keep many sectors of society going. The book also throws up also moral questions that don't have easy answers. For instance, because the plague is so deadly, government programmes are drawn up in secret where newborn male babies are removed from their mothers and kept in a sterile environment - hopefully until a vaccine is found. This means deceiving mothers and forcibly removing their children - but then again, it also means their children will live. There are more minor, similar issues, such as laws being passed that force people to house boys during the pandemic, with the threat of decades in jail for people who try and refuse. It all makes for a fascinating read and makes the reader think about all of the issues that such a deadly plague would create and how society could resolve them. Christina Sweeney-Baird has created a truly riveting novel full of difficult questions and fascinating characters. It's possible that, for people who have lost loved ones during the real pandemic, this would be a hard read. But for anyone who won't find it too difficult or anxiety-provoking, I definitely recommend it.
I can't say I ever thought I'd be reading a book about a global pandemic whilst living through one in real life. It should have felt surreal. Weirdly, though, it was something of a cathartic experience. I binged this book in just over a day, even resenting the few life commitments that got in the way of my reading it! Remenscient of Naomi Alderman's 'The Power', alternating between multiple povs as we see the before, during and after of something that will change the path of humankind forever. Moving, tense and profound - I can't recommend this book enough.
It's been a while since a book so throughly got inside my head but The End of Men gut punched me. This is absolutely addictive right from the start, I have had goosebumps so many times, my eyes welling up & feeling anxious, but all because it is just so good. The story is written from lots of different perspectives, both men & women, telling the story of the plague as it travels around the world. Rather than there being too many characters, in any other story I think there would have been, this allows you to see the scope of the crisis. I must admit I forgot who some were when reading their chapter heading but within a few lines I was back to who I was reading about. The characters were so clearly presented, some you could relate to, some you couldn't stand, but each well developed & their story explored. This book is emotional & immersive, I drove to the shops one morning after reading it and saw three men in a van together & wanted to shout at them about how stupid they were being, then realised it was just a book. Beyond the horror of the fact that 90% of the worlds male population is dying, the loss suffered by the women left behind of sons, husbands, fathers, brothers & friends this book so cleverly looks at a society turned on its head. Also the Gynarchy stuff is gold, it made my blood boil. The effects not just across the world, but gender lines, all ages, races & social classes really make you consider what the world would be like in a situation like this, made all the more real by the last year's events. I think this novel would have been a gripping read anyway, but after covid it is all the more real & anxiety inducing. As you might have guessed from the long review I loved this book. It had tension, punchy action packed chapters, emotion & drama. Christina Sweeney-Baird has blown me away with this fantastic debut.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle reading The End of Men towards the end of 2020, but I cracked it open one evening and did basically nothing else until I came to the last page. One scene in particular I haven't been able to shake, six months after reading... I cried, and cried, and cried some more, and then kept plowing through pages because this book is just that good. It's thrilling, chilling, deeply emotional, brilliantly paced and with a truly global cast of characters that will have you asking yourself, what would I do in this situation, with each new perspective we're introduced to. If you're on the fence about reading about a pandemic during a pandemic - don't be. I can't wait to see what's next from Christina Sweeney-Baird.
Set a few years in the future, a sudden flu-like pandemic starts spreading from the epicentre Scotland, which then wipes out nearly all the male population across the world. It’s fast and it’s scary, and the government and experts are left stumped. According to the author’s note, this was written before the average-Joe world citizen had even heard of a coronavirus. But it is eery, given the current world pandemic. So it’s understandable that some readers might not touch this with a 10ft barge pole, and also why others might devour it. (We’re strange folk, us humans, right?) Anywho, for me this was a really engaging read. It doesn’t flow like a typical “there’s a worldwide pandemic, we need to find a vaccine, stat!” This is more of a dystopian take on a pandemic - “what would life be like for people after ‘The Plague’ wipes out most of the men”? You follow multiple (and I mean multiple - there are a lot of voices from all over the world adding their take on life) characters as you learn how the Plague has affected them, how their lives have changed and how they feel about it. And also how society changes because of this - the world is currently geared up in favour of the patriarchy - men hold most of the manual, educated and high level jobs. Look at politics, law enforcement, science, business - it’s a male dominated world. Women are often overlooked, as the caregiver in family life and often have the administrative roles in society. All that goes out the window and it’s really thought provoking as the new matriarchy takes control. There’s male voices that don’t like this (read here conspiracy theorists) and there’s also glimpses into how governments strive to repopulate the world where newly born children are taken away from their parents and kept separate to protect their lives as a vaccine is developed. But the takeaway for me is the sheer grief that everyone experiences in this book. A lot of the people giving their voices lose a lot of their loved ones; partners, sons, fathers. It’s heartbreaking as you follow them as a ‘survivor’. Definitely one I’d recommend!
Well, how strange yet a other fiction book written before the current pandemic. Peter May wrote his fiction novel " The Lockdown" pre Covid and wasn't published until fairly recently. Christina wrote this one back in the day but maybe some of it was updated during the pandemic as some part of the book sound familiar but it is only recently happening (passport certificates of vaccination in order to travel). There are some changes of countries in this alternate world. Independence comes to Scotland and China breaks up to make "The Twelve" which (as it says in the novel) sounds like a baddie group in a James Bond film. This story bounces around to various people in different difficult situations as no one is unaffected by this global pandemic. My particular favourite is following the progress of the chappie on board a ship off the coast of Iceland anchored due to running out of fuel and his wife back home trying to organise food parcels to be sent to the ship for any survivors. Lots of other different situations like the hostel near the Cairngorms that is given a party of teenage boys in order to keep them safe and to send their own teenage son away just in case any incoming teenagers pass the virus to him. Women who have lost their husbands. The scene of a husband going to their bedroom to die alone is a particularly tearful moment for me so get tissues handy, maybe. Not only personal accounts but also journalists, virologists and more professional women coming to the fore just because there are no men to be in charge and in fact these women are doing a sterling job. But if they'd listened to a woman in the first place ... just saying. Funny how of 3 pandemic fictional novels I've read, 2 have Scotland being where the outbreak starts. Just saying... I thought it quite right that items were being adjusted to suit the female species, for instance cars. Head rest heights, seatbelt settings, airbag settings. I think of the non-fiction book I still want to read "Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" by Caroline Criado-Perez. I was going to pounce on a fiction novel by an author I realy enjoy but the synopsis of this book caught my eye and appeal to dive into this one first. Just goes to show. It's actually quite brilliant how again, out of the 3 fiction novels of global pandemic THIS one is the most realistic and scary (if you think about it). This novel has a vaccine ready in 4 years, our true life pandemic story was less than a year!! A standout novel in today's world which has now reached 3 million worldwide deaths due to Covid. Just take a moment to remember those lives affected by Covid. At least this novel has tracked down its cause whereas the real life virus has only been sort of tracked, possibly, to China. Just saying. Wow, I've not really left such a long review!!