The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Published by Borough Press (HarperCollins UK)

Synopsis:

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?

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.

The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world.

What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the “male plague;” intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

In The End of Men, Christina Sweeney-Baird creates an unforgettable tale of loss, resilience and hope.



Expected publication date: 29th April 2021

What an absolute masterpiece of a book.

While I’m tempted to just leave my review there, I suppose I should probably put a bit more effort in and explain all the different ways in which this book is amazing.

So, written in 2018, this book is a speculative look at the world if a pandemic struck. A flu-like pandemic. All over the world.
That depressing bit of foresight aside, this disease has a 90% mortality rate of all men that it infects, but doesn’t affect women. This means that men all over the world; dads, husbands, sons, coworkers, politicians, good men and the worst of men, died within days of infection.

The story picks up at the very beginning of the pandemic and runs through to what the world looks like after a vaccine has been found, much further down the line than it turns out Covid took (three cheers for science!).

The first wave, so to speak, is about the loss. Everybody has lost dozens of people from their lives and the initial shock, panic and grief is breathtaking. But then the world continues to turn and the author contemplates what a world run, in the majority, by women would look like.

This was the bit that captivated me – suddenly women are needed to do the jobs that have been dominated by men. The world needs electricians, engineers and lorry drivers.
Women are promoted faster and paid more, technology evolves to suit female needs, fertility, sex and women’s health is viewed in a completely different way.
So many little issues are slipped in to the narrative that it takes a step back to realise the scope of what the author’s included.

The story is written from the perspectives of various women involved in the discovery of the disease and the fight for getting the world back on track. They’re all very different from each other (one of them is a tremendous douche) and this lets us see even more of the ways that women would be affected by this kind of situation.

It bears being said that this book isn’t ‘screw all men’, the world is broken by grief but the story explores what other impacts the loss of men would have on society.

If you’re feeling a bit pandemic-ed out, I’d put this book on the back burner before reading it. It hits you in all the feelings but you really do need to read it, though after lockdown might be a better time.

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