The End of Men by Christina Sweeney Baird is an immersive dystopian novel that I just couldn’t put down. The story begins with a few cases of a mysterious disease that spreads rapidly and kills suddenly. A brilliant doctor, Amanda McClean raises the alarm that she suspects there is a deadly new illness in her hospital and cases are increasing fast. What follows will feel frighteningly familiar as the small outbreak turns in to a global pandemic but in this one only the men get sick or die.
I quite honestly found this novel incredibly gripping. The story is told through the perspective of many characters. We hear from the voices of a host of women as the disease bring the world to a shuddering stop. There is a lot of pain and anguish in this book. It’s not just the victims of this illness that we hear the stories of but primarily the ones the dead have left behind. Grieving daughters, sisters, mothers and wives sing out a chorus of loss. We see doctors, politicians and scientists scramble to save lives while the rest of the world’s population struggle to protect the ones they love.
The parts of The End of Men that I enjoyed the most were with the character Catherine. There was something about the way Christina Sweeney-Baird kept Catherine battling through what the pandemic was throwing at her that made me want to dive into the pages to give her a hug. I also really like the strength of Dawn, who as an intelligence service employee gave us, as readers, a little peek behind the governmental curtain. Sweeney-Baird created a world that felt wide reaching and so, so very real. The was even a guy stranded on a boat off the coast of Iceland that I was loudly cheering on to just stay alive.
There are some wonderfully touching moments in The End of Men that were particularly beautiful to read. However, just as real life isn’t all down hill there were also parts that made me chuckle or beam a little with relief. The ending, like a warm bowl of porridge, felt just right.
The End of Men by Christina Sweeny-Baird is a brilliant novel with a feminist twist on the dystopian genre. I will warn that once you start reading, it’s incredibly hard to put the book down. This is a must read for sci-fi nuts and I would absolutely recommend this to fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Power, Dark Lullaby, Children of Men or even World War Z.