Cover Image: The End of Men

The End of Men

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Member Reviews

This novel would be a chilling read in any year but during the COVID pandemic it’s both a terrifying worst-case and a relief that we – human civilization – dodged even greater disaster. It’s a horrifying tale while not a horror story.

Reminiscent of WORLD WAR Z (the book, not the movie)in style, the story unfolds through flashbacks, emails, snippets from blogs, accounts of meetings, with only a few real-time narrators throughout. The last group are rendered in understated prose that conveys psychological trauma response better than more graphic descriptions or reactions might. This separation of time& distance makes for a less emotionally fraught view of the many horrors but allows for a broader worldview, geographically centered in the UK with glimpses into US and Asian-Pacific government and societal reactions.

A striking feature of this book is the centrality of female perspectives, politics, and coping mechanisms. As the men in positions of power and authority start to drop like flies or go into isolation to try to protect themselves from near-certain death, women adapt, reorganize, step in and step up to keep society functioning. The absence of the male-model single heroic figure beloved of movie directors (the Brad Pitt, in WWZ) and too many novels is stark. Success comes from a small number of women going beyond duty or personal responsibility, but also from the tireless work of thousands in research labs and bureaucracies, of millions of ordinary women running their towns and villages.

The male characters – all but one seen through the eyes of women who work for them, love them, or despise them - are a varied lot,some good, some bad, many mediocre, but all recognizable to most female readers.The women characters are only a bit more thoroughly sketched in. Apart from Catherine, the Plague’s almost accidental recording angel, we don’t get deeply or long into their minds or hearts, and on the whole there’s no need to. Women readers can easily fill in the emotional and psychological underpinnings. As with the men, we’ve all met and worked with and been related to those women, met them at the school gate. We’ve loved and hated them, envied their seemingly perfect lives or been thankful our life, our financial footing, our relationship, is stronger.

While there are valid critiques about the lack of depth regarding LGBTQ2S+ characters and the various regions’ political and militaristic responses, both get mentioned and in ways that admit to the complexity of their specific situations. To add more in those areas would be to distance readers further from the central threat to humanity’s survival, and the mechanisms by which the restructured, women-led states tackle the resulting sex imbalance to preserve the genetic diversity of our own species.

Those mechanisms are not the stuff of hearts-and-flowers,sisters-together anti-male Eutopias some male readers might anticipate. They’re practical and often ruthlessly implemented. Not all women agree. Not all women program heads are approachable or warm. A woman in this fictional universe can be brilliant and ambitious and personally unlikeable and still win accolades, like men can in the real world.While there’s more than enough loss to go around, the book ends on a series of small hopeful notes as characters who have survived the unthinkable gradually let their grief settle and move forward.

If the tale unfolded like WORLD WAR Z (the book), it ends like CHILDREN OF MEN (the movie), with new life, new relationships, raising children in a world unlike anything humanity has ever experienced before.
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I will admit it was a little weird to choose to read a book about a pandemic during a pandemic. But it was interesting to compare what was happening in the book to what was happening in our world right now.

A virus that only infects men starts in Scotland and quickly spreads around the world as women are asymptomatic carriers. Thousands of men start dying and one doctor, Amanda, who treated the very first patient with the virus, tried to warn WHO before it got out of control. But much like many other women, Amanda was deemed unreliable and ultimately ignored. 

The book is told through many women's point of views from around the world, including Amanda, who have lost the men in their lives to this virus. Also told through many mediums, such as journal entries, news articles, and first person povs.

It was really well written and all the povs important and impactful. I would definitely recommend this book.
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This book is a good, fast-paced read. It’s a bit creepy to read about a pandemic that kills about 90% of men in the middle of a pandemic; you can also appreciate how much the author got right! The story unfolds through the voices of a number of women over a number of years, as we see how the pandemic unfolds and what happens to their lives during the race for a vaccine, and the aftermath. Recommended!
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I really wanted to like this book, but I really didn't enjoy it much at all.  I usually absolutely adore books that include the perspectives of multiple characters, which this book included.  However, there were so many characters that I actually found it a bit confusing to follow all of them and their details, not to mention that some of them disappeared for quite a few chapters and I had forgotten about them.  The idea of this book is actually super cool, but I couldn't appreciate how it was executed.  It is very clear that Sweeney-Baird used real-life events and the Covid-19 pandemic to inspire many different actions in the plot, and I enjoyed that part.  Her writing style was pretty accessible, though thtere wasn't anything particularly masterfully done or exceptional writing techniques... honestly, I was a bit disappointed to have so many characters and such little variation in character voices.  I did, really enjoy the plotline, I thought the action events were pretty solid and that it was relatively realistic - I can see society functioning this way if there was a virus that was only killing the men.  Interesting idea.

Also, just a commentary on the editing of the ebook version - it was extremely distracting at times when the formatting would not even distinguish between which characters were speaking.  Had the file been a bit better, I think I may have enjoyed it more.
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I couldn't finish it. The repetitive nature of the many tales made it hard for me to continue. I was expecting to see the world after men had vanished instead it was about lots of smaller stories that I couldn't see how they related to the plot. I didn't stick to find out if that changed in the end.
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After reading The Power a couple of months ago (and being disappointed by it), I was really looking forward to reading this book and seeing what it would bring forth. Knowing now that this is a debut, I am even more impressed. I expected a pretty kitchy novel going into this, and one that wouldn't really touch upon the actual feeling of a *panorama*. Sweeney-Baird wrote this not knowing what was to come in 2020, but I feel as though she did an excellent job at really capturing the fear, grief and hope that has been riddling my mind this past year. It took me a bit of time to get into the novel, but once I was invested in the characters, I became instantly hooked. I really enjoyed how this novel was set up. There are a lot of characters, but I don't feel the novel was too convoluted or long - it felt as though someone was collecting stories of so many people's experiences, making the overall plot feel more "real". I also really appreciated how Sweeney-Baird discussed the novel's fictional vaccine rollout and how the ones in charge of the vaccine were holding it for wealth, and thus keeping it from poorer countries (although, I think this could have been discussed a tad more). I also really appreciated how she went into discussing the LGBTQ+ community and their struggles (although again, could have been discussed a bit more in length). Overall, while I do think there could have had more nuanced discussions, I am pleasently surprised by this debut and had an ~experience~ reading this (that's right, I almost cried and held on tightly to my boyfriend) and, I am definitely looking forward to reading whatever Sweeney-Baird puts out next.
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I enjoyed this book. I did find it hard to read a book about a pandemic during a pandemic but in the end I’m glad I did.
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First off, I'd like to thank Netgalley, Penguin Random House Canada and Christina Sweeney-Baird for the ecopy in change for my honest review! 

This novel is set in just 2025, in a world where a virus that only affects men can kill in just two to four days. It's up to women to find a solution and save them. I thought a book about a pandemic during a pandemic would be too much but I'm glad it's not a virus that's the same and that it was released at a time when things were starting to improve and look more positive in the world. ⁣
⁣I found I had to pay attention while reading because the chapters are short and from multiple points of view. I generally really enjoy this type of novel but I did have to look back a few times to make sure I had characters straight. I liked the insights to how each of the characters coped and you got to see all sides and we definitely saw that to be true in real life as well this past year. 

Great debut novel!
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I really loved "The End of Men" by Christina Sweeney-Baird.  I loved almost everything about this book. Of course the title piqued my interest right away. And certainly the premise of a pandemic that only affects men is very interesting.  Before the current COVID pandemic I read a few pandemic novels and I always wondered how realistic they were.  I could hardly imagine actually living through a pandemic.  Fast forward to 2020 ad I now have totally different thoughts on the issue!!  

This book has so many things I love - a thought provoking premise, multiple points of view, short chapters, and female characters. I loved the writing - it was engaging and drew me in right away.  With the exception of one male point of view the entire novel is told from the point of view of several female characters located in various parts of the world - all of whom are affected by this Plague in various ways. If I had one complaint about the book, it would be that maybe there were a few too many female characters.  A few only had one or 2 short chapters that were so far apart I had forgotten who they were when they showed up again.

The book spanned a number of years during and after the Plague and I would have actually loved for the book to be longer.  I would have liked even more of the immediate aftermath of the pandemic when there were so few men left and women had to do almost everything.  I really was enjoying this part when the book skipped ahead several years. I also loved all the complex female characters. Some driven by grief an others driven by power and greed.  It is an interesting reflection of society as a whole.  

Sweeney-Baird said in the Author's note that she started this book in 2018 as a "thought experiment"  and she finished in 2019 before the COVID pandemic.  I thought she wrote the pandemic part very well.  It felt real to me as well as the fear and grief of those affected.

I'm not going to spoil the plot but if this type of fiction interests you I highly recommend this book.

I was given an digital ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Glasgow. 2025. An A and E doctor in a busy Glasgow hospital treats a male patient who dies from what appears to be flu-like symptoms. When more men suddenly start dying from similar presentations, she fears the worst. Warning her superiors is met with cynical skepticism. 

From there on, it’s too late. 

A deadly, global pandemic caused by a mysterious virus that targets only males. Women are the asymptomatic carriers – agonizingly passing the virus to their sons, husbands, brothers, fathers. 

In a race against time, brilliant women around the world come together to find a vaccine. 

Portentously relevant to the pandemic assailing our society, the plague in The End of Men, rubs chillingly close to home. Heart-rending, compelling and spellbinding.

Highly recommend The End of Men.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada, Doubleday Canada, for the read of Christina Sweeney-Baird’s, The End of Men.

Opinions expressed are my own.
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I loved this book. It’s so well-written, so realistic, and of course, so eerily relatable to the current pandemic. I loved the style of the book; the different perspectives centred around a common theme, the varied personalities,  and the shared grief. The idea of what life would be like if the majority of men passed away was fascinating while at the same time terrifying. Perhaps there is something we can learn from Christina Sweeney-Baird.
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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada, Doubleday Books and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A flu like virus becomes a global pandemic, the catch is that it only kills men with 1 in 10 being immune and women being asymptomatic carriers. Imagine a world where 90% of the male population dies including children.
I appreciated the concept of the storyline but this book very quickly became a dive into feminism for me. Actually it was more than that, more like "We are Women and will take over the world and be better than any man". The emotions of some of the women who lost husbands and sons, and in some cases all the men in their lives, seemed cold and unconnected. 
I was looking forward to a good end of the world story but for me this seemed to be more of a women's rights statement.
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Alright grab the kleenex, this story broke my poor, emotional little heart.
At a time with covid at an all time high in many places, this story hits very close to home.
Incredibly written, this book is truly thought provoking, and worthy of your time.
I cannot imagine a world where men don't exist , its seems unfathomable doesn't it❓
Thank you @netgalley for this e-arc.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  This was the most frustrating  book I've ever read. Bounced from several main characters and I felt like it was several books I had read before.  Three quarters of the way through I gave up , DNF.
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I wanted to read The End Of Men for the title alone, because.... well.... at minimum, it piqued my curisosity.

The year is 2025. A male patient dies suddenly and mysteriously in a hospital in Scotland after travelling from the Isle of Bute. Soon, another patient in emergency takes a turn for the worse, showing similar symptoms to those of patient zero. Then, another. Before long, the "Male Plague" starts to kill off males, regardless of age, at like a 90% mortality rate all over the world.  Women can carry the virus, but only men die. The impact, as you can imagine, is devastating. 

Why this book is a yes for me: 

I usually enjoy the first few chapters of a pandemic novel the most and this book was no different. It definitely starts off with a bang and the pace throughout matches the terrifying reality the characters are living in, in The End of Men. 

The book was very successful at painting a grim picture and making me think about and understand how my world would be altered if the majority of men died.  I mean, think about all males you know, then imagine for a second that they died... all of them...  it's a lot!! 

I liked how much this book made me think. I finished it yesterday and can't stop thinking about it. 

I also liked the short chapters and that the chapters were written in different POV. Made for a super quick and compelling read.

That being said, at times,  it felt like there were maybe too many POV and not enough depth to each story line.  It felt a bit like I was getting a surface glimpse of a super interesting topic that left me wanting more. I'm thinking in particular of the story lines dealing with the impact of the Male Plague on the lgbtqia2+ community, fertility and that boat off the coast of Iceland... so many questions!!

What did I not love?

The timeline felt a bit long for me. I get that a lot of pandemic novels/movies do the day count thing. I normally like that, but in this case, there were too many gaps and counting by days when it got over 200 felt like math I was too lazy to do. 

I also think the novel could have benefited from more diversity in the POVs. 

I think if we weren't living in a pandemic, there would have been less overlap between certain aspects of the beginning of the book and reality (how the virus started, how it spread geographically, masks, school and industry closures, etc). And because of that overlap, the book didn't feel as scary as pandemic books normally feel in some ways. However, that's not because of the writing at all. And, if I'm being honest the idea of any virus with a 90% mortality rate is so mindblowingly awful that maybe my tired pandemic brain just can't lean into that artificial fear right now. I think I would have enjoyed this book more in non pandemic times. 

I'm giving this one a 3- 3.5 stars. Although not totally successful IMO, super thought provoking and definitely worth reading if you enjoy the pandemic novel genre. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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I was intrigued by the premise of this book - a pandemic outbreak that only affects males - mostly considering that there is a pandemic going on right now, but also because I was wondering where the author was going to go with it.

Considering that the bulk of the writing was done in 2018 and 2019, the author certainly did a great job of describing how a potential pandemic would play out - even the details of people not taking the pandemic seriously.

The story can get very emotional and did perhaps hit a little too close to home at home - instead of being an escape, it became a reminder of the current situation. That being said it was still a good read. I liked how the author handled the story and what the world looks like post-pandemic. It's told from a changing perspective of a number of different people, which I found a little difficult to get into the story at times, but it was a good way to tell the whole story of the pandemic and how it affected people differently

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance reading copy!
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What a page turner! Such a timely premise for 2020/2021. A virus sweeps the planet in 2025, a pandemic that affects only men. I love every character in this book. The book follows many women over a period of five years from the outbreak to adaptation to a new world. Every character is strong and willing to fight to be heard. Every woman we meet within the pages has suffered loss due to the pandemic, but they have gained so much by the end of the book. I really connected to the evolution of the women - not just as characters in the novel - but as the survivors who now have to take on roles previously only held by men. There are so many rich layers: evolution, feminism, self-preservation, community building, survival. A quick read that was over too soon.
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This was a little hard to read. A little too close to home with the whole global pandemic thing going around. 
But this is an interesting premise that follows a lot (probably too many) characters through a timeline of the man killing virus. This book is well done but I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. They all sounded very similar even though they are all from different parts of the world. 
I would have liked a little more in-depth into the careers and how they trained people to do more male oriented jobs. I would have liked to hear more from society vs just these main characters. 
Regardless I enjoyed this read and will defiantly try this author again. 
I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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What a topical page turner! Written before the Covid-19 pandemic, it feels so real! Beautifully written, and a bit different, what with the short snappy chapters from the point of view of many different women (and one man), this book is my vote for the debut novel of the year! The plot and little details are so well thought out, the reader alternately cries and chuckles. Sometimes too much for me during this third wave....

Thank you to the publisher who lent me a time limited e-arc via netgalley with no obligation. This review is optional and my own opinion.
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Terrifying. Prophetic. Thoughtful.

The End of Men, amazingly, was finished approximately one year before the 2020 COVID pandemic struck. This novel tells the tale of a fictional global pandemic in the year 2025, which is eerily similar in many ways to COVID with its sudden onset, horrifying sweep across victims, and devastating societal, economic and psychological impact. This pandemic, (or “plague” as it is referred to in the book) however, has one major difference - the disease is hosted or incubated in women and only attacks and kills men.  Pretty much all of them. 

The pace of this story is quick, the tension relentless, as the weight of the impact becomes heart-sickeningly stunning (given what we’ve seen lately, however, maybe not really all that impossible to believe?)  (It’s such a kick to think the author wrote this well before our first “real” global pandemic.)

The story is written from the POV of several characters, including Catherine, a social anthropologist with a husband and young son, as well as several women who work in and around the medical profession. Catherine is probably the most relatable character - you feel for her so deeply that her life and its inconceivable progression become our own chilling descent into the (almost “deja-vu”-like, for us ) madness of this sudden and horrifying deluge. 

And oh, what an ingenious premise for a book - the sex-specific nature of the onslaught gives the author a wonderful opportunity, (which she fully leverages ) to play with powerful themes and  fascinating imaginings of a world forever transformed - one which women must take the reigns to salvage and rebuild.  Childbirth, heterosexual love and marriage, power, war, weaponry, democracy, politics, greed, friendship, and of course, gender and women’s “place” in society - all are brought to the forefront in this terrific read, in a world in which may be about to end.  

No spoilers here, you will have to read this fantastic book to find out where this story takes us.

A great big thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author, for an advance review copy of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.
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