Cover Image: The End of Men

The End of Men

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was a very interesting read! I knew I was going to enjoy it just from reading the blurb but it did not disappoint! 

I also love the cover too!
Was this review helpful?
A pandemic book, written before the pandemic, this book does a great job of capturing the panic, exhaustion and confusion of an event like this, including the long search for a cure.
The book tells the story of a virus that takes only men, causing the world to grieve, then shift to a new world centred on women.
There are multiple stories at play here, with women from all over the world responding to their grief and to the call to serve a new purpose. Sometimes there seems to be so many stories that it lessens the impact overall.
The tension of the novel rises as the pandemic worsens, and it seems to hold this level of tension right the way through, rather than hitting peaks of tension. This does leave the reader a little emotionally flat as there are no markers to guide our response to the story.
Seen in the light of a real pandemic response, this is an accurate representation, but the vast character list and shifting perspectives leaves me a little disappointed with the outcome.
Was this review helpful?
Not gonna lie, I really questioned my past self for requesting an ARC of this book. Not because the book is bad, it's great actually and that's the problem 😅 The story starts with the emergence of an extremely deadly virus affecting 90% of all men, killing them in a few days and spreading like wildfire because 1- it's highly contagious and 2- women are asymptomatic hosts.

We follow multiple characters over a few years from the spread of the pandemic to the aftermath and the recovery once a vaccine is found. Knowing that this book was written before 2020, it's uncanny how spot on it is... I mean, that "it's just a flu" line just hits differently now. Seeing all these people facing their inevitable death or that of their loved ones was really hard. A big part of the story is about the loss and the grief and it felt so real that I found the whole experience quite anxiety inducing to be honest. It also talks a lot about how society has to rearrange itself and how the male domination in some professions (government, doctors, army, etc) made it even harder to recover. It does end up on a somewhat hopeful note but make no mistake, this is a heavy read.

Note: the book addresses only slightly the topic of transgender people (the virus targets the Y chromosome) and the specific struggles that they are facing in the post-Plague society. There is a chapter in which we meet a trans nurse and she highlights how these issues have been wildly overlooked by the new governments but it's pretty short and surface level.

All in all, was it the best time for me to read this? Probably not. But I'm still glad I read it and I would definitely recommend it if you can handle its topic at the moment.
Was this review helpful?
Christina Sweeney-Baird must have had some prescience when this novel was first thought of. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read about a pandemic given how the current one with Covid has unfurled and ensared the entire planet, but I'm sort of glad I did. The End of Men plague is certainly a lot worse, than the one we are currently confronted with. I feel almost lucky to be living now and not in her future made-up world, which nonetheless seems recognisable and real. What I really liked were the people stories. It gave me some relief to move from one character to another. I felt all of them, but it didn't weigh me down in the way the horrible could have, if I was totally engrossed in only one person's life and death struggles. Certainly The End of Men helps us understand how bureaucracies are as fallible as the people who run them and how impotent we are in the face of mighty microbes and our own building blocks. But it also showed us hope. How good people can be, even despite their hurts and grieving, at helping each other.
Was this review helpful?
I don't know how to rate this one. I'm not sure how much it will stick with me, and I don't know how much I can recommend this to people given the current Pandemic.

Written in 2018 before covid was even a fever dream, The End of Men is an account of a future viral Pandemic affecting 9 in 10 men as recounted by the women in their lives: an anthropologist, an A&E doctor, a CDC researcher, a virologist, a remote farm owner forced to take in evacuees, a deputy director of MI5, a foreign nanny, the wife of Patient Zero.

Their stories are horrifying and touching, and altogether too close to home. The story mostly deals with "how do you process grief when 100% of the world is touched by it at once?" as well as the logistical what ifs of a world population decimated and no one available to take on the dirty and dangerous jobs that employ mostly males. Particularly real right now, it would have been a mind-blowing read had covid not happened
Was this review helpful?
It’s November 2025 and a male patient arrives at a Glasgow Hospital with what appears to be a mild case of flu, but a few hours later he is dead. It quickly becomes evident that this is a new virus and while women can be carriers, only men are affected. The illness – which becomes known as The Plague – kills quickly. There is no cure or vaccine and only about 9% of men are immune. Within months, the world is transformed as many men die and the rest are forced to self isolate. 

I’ve read a lot of pandemic books over the years but having experienced Covid 19 made this feel less abstract and more relatable. In the early stages people adopt measures like social distancing and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes and it felt eerily familiar. But our familiarity with an (albeit far less frightening) pandemic also means that some sections felt unlikely – the process of vaccine development for instance (where were the clinical trials?!).

What I found particularly intriguing was the way the world changes to accommodate the absence of men. The need to fasttrack women into occupations that have traditionally been male dominant (electricians, pilots, waste removal etc). The need to keep newborn sons from their mothers who might infect them immediately after birth (although I find it extremely unlikely that New Zealand would be the country to pioneer such a programme).

The book covers a long timespan – six years – and focuses on a LOT of characters, almost all of whom are women. This gives the book a very cinematic feel, reminiscent of the film Contagion. We move from an A&E doctor in Glasgow to a professor of Virology in Toronto to a Filipina nanny in Singapore to a policewoman in San Francisco to an MI5 officer in London etc. (I counted at least 13 characters who we move between, although there are 4-5 main ones). At times this means there are cliff hangers and you need to wait 100+ pages to find out what happened. It also means that you end up less invested in the characters and there were a couple that I actively disliked.

It’s fast paced, it’s fascinating and it’s a good reminder that we could be in a far worse situation than the one we are currently in.
Was this review helpful?
Loved it!  A thought provoking twist on the end of the world as we know it.  At times a real tear jerker, with the very real stories of women going through an unimaginable time.  They do prevail, through their strength and working together to rebuild the world and a workable way of life.
The imagination of Christina Sweeney-Baird was a pleasure to read.
Was this review helpful?
With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital arc of this book, all opinions expressed here are my own.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird is the author’s debut novel. It is extremely well written, with relatable character but it’s about a global pandemic. 

I wondered about the wisdom of this, until I found the author drafted this book in 2018, before Covid-19 even happened! So while some may find this hard to read given the current situation in our world, it was an interesting read and worth giving a chance.

Told from multiple character’s viewpoints, some for just once chapter, others through the whole story. The End of Men brings to light a pandemic of global proportions, that kills males within a few days of contracting the virus. With an almost 100% mortality rate, no cure and women also as asymptomatic hosts, it becomes a race to find a vaccine before it’s too late to save the world.

Just think about how many jobs are predominately male - police, army, doctors, pilots, even garbage truck drivers. The list goes on. What would happen if they were all suddenly gone?

My favourite characters were Amanda, the doctor who realised she treated Patient Zero and tried to alert the authorities, but was dismissed as being a hysterical female. And Elizabeth, a young American who insists on putting her knowledge to the test in England, helping develop a vaccine.

My least favourite character was Lisa, a stuck up Canadian doctor on another team developing the vaccine.

Told during and after the pandemic hits this is a fascinating 4 star read. I look forward to reading more books by this author in the future.
Was this review helpful?
Well, I guess that there’s no better time to read about a fictional pandemic during a real life pandemic. Reading is escapism, except this once. <The End of Men</I> is set in 2025, when there is a sudden pandemic of a deadly virus that only affects men. It follows a cast of women as they learn how to navigate a world without men, in a way that vaguely reminded me of <I>World War Z</I>.

In many ways, the events in this story are eerily familiar: governments initially downplaying the virus, social isolation, social upheaval, masks, governments in chaos, hospitals under pressure, and a desperate search for a vaccine. But the virus here is far more deadly, to the point where men are in danger of being wiped out. I’ve heard plenty of jokes about ‘men suck’ and ‘I hate men’, but it was super interesting to delve into a world that has to deal with the ramifications of a men-less world. There’s a deep sense of loss that permeates throughout the story. It’s fascinating to read about what a women-dominated world might look like; military wives in the army, for instance, and many women start dating each other. 

Strangely enough, I feel like the characters are both the greatest strength and weakness of the story. I guess the two main characters are Amanda, the first doctor to report the virus, and Catherine, a social historian trying to tell the stories of those affected by the virus. Both are excellent characters; they have lots of humanity and determination, even as they suffer personal loss. But the book also has a bunch of other narrators, some of which only appear for one chapter. I think that the goal was probably to showcase a variety of perspectives, but it just wasn’t interesting. This distorted narration made the story feel choppy, and I’d have much preferred the author to focus on just Amanda and Catherine. 

That aside, however, this was a really intriguing, thought-provoking book. Unfortunately, much of what it describes will be familiar to us (thank you COVID-19) but it offers insightful commentary into what a matriarchal society might look like.
Was this review helpful?