Pandemic fiction isn’t for everyone – especially now! Personally, I turn to books to give context to the world as I know it and to help process my own thoughts and feelings about certain experiences. So I was fairly intrigued by the premise of The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird. A pandemic that affects only men and wipes out 90% of the male population worldwide? Big yikes but also big intrigue. I wasn’t sure what to expect but ultimately I ended up enjoying it. And I’m going to talk a little bit more about that right now…
PLEASE NOTE: This post discusses pandemic living including the death of loved ones and grief. Please do not read further if these topics are likely to cause you any emotional distress.
Many thanks to Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The End of Men
by Christina Sweeney-Baird
Publisher: The Borough Press
Date of Publication: 29th April 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: eBook (416 pages)
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.
- Death of male relatives
- Death of children including babies
First of all, I want to be clear about what The End of Men is and what it isn’t. It isn’t action-packed and if you’re looking for thrills, you’re not going to find that here. What you will find is a highly ambitious exploration of what pandemic and post-pandemic life looks or could look like. The book was written pre-COVID but the parallels are striking. I especially resonated with the way that women desperately tried to keep their loved ones safe and the intensity of grief when you’re constantly confronted by it. (If you’ve read my post about grief and COVID, you’ll know what I mean.)
Now you know that multiple POVs confuse the hell out of me at the best of times. There are so many different voices here. I’m in awe that the author managed to come up with them all and carry them all so well. It was confusing at times. But when the reason for all the POVs clicks into place, it’s incredibly satisfying. (It also contains some multi-media formats, if that appeals to you!)
As for how it made me feel… Well. I cried. So many times. The biggest reason being that there’s a lot of on-page death and grief. And some of those scenes are absolutely heartbreaking.
With that said, there was also a message in here about remembering those we’ve lost and I’ve never needed anything more. As someone who has lost someone to COVID, those words were a comfort to me.
Similarly, I thought the discourse on motherhood and infertility was handled really well. Motherhood is often seen as a woman’s “power” so there can be very intense emotions involved when infertility is impacting you. I thought those discussions were incredibly emotive, raw and powerful.
What I liked most about The End of Men was the way that it married the dark and the light together. For a book that’s filled with so much darkness and an almost unbearable amount of loss, it also contains a lot of lightness. Survivors find hope, love and purpose. And it’s truly moving. There’s also a hopeful ending which was nice. (And I loved that this post-pandemic world found a cure for endometriosis!)
Read This If You…
- Can stomach a fictional pandemic on top of a real one
- Enjoy reading about worlds governed largely by women
- Don’t mind lots of POVs
Again, thank you to the publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book. And to you, for taking the time to read my review!
Will you be adding The End of Men to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!
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