• The Children of Men

  • By: P. D. James
  • Narrated by: David Case
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (462 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Children of Men begins in England in 2021, in a world where all human males have become sterile and no child will be born again. The final generation has turned 25, and civilization is giving way to strange faiths and cruelties, mass suicides and despair. Theodore Faron, Oxford historian and cousin to the omnipotent Warden of England, a dictator of great subtlety, has resigned himself to apathy. Then he meets Julian, a bright, attractive woman, who wants Theo to join her circle of unlikely revolutionaries, a move that may shatter his shell of passivity... And maybe, just maybe, hold the key to survival for the human race.

©1993 P.D. James (P)2012 Random House

Critic Reviews

“Extraordinary … daring … frightening in its implications.”(The New York Times)

“She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery.” ( The Times (UK))

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What listeners say about The Children of Men

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect Narrator for a Brilliant Satire

I feel the complaints about David Case's narration are entirely unjustified (and no, I have no connection with him).

Theo, the main character, is an Oxford don and much of the first part of the novel is told from his first person perspective -- so it's only natural Case would adopt a hyper-educated, overly posh British accent. Sure, few people talk like this, but that's very much the point: few people are like Theo.

To an American ear (and I'm American) I can understand Case's voice might seem exaggerated and grating -- even to a British ear -- but the whole novel is an exaggeration: it's satire, after all. Listened to with this in mind, the narration clicks right into place.

Case manages the wide variety of characters with such skill it's hard to believe it's always just the one person narrating. The women's voices are particularly remarkable: Julian's insipidity, Miriam's core strength, Harriet Marwood's brittle authority.

If you forget the negative reviews and give Case a chance, his telling of Jame's serrated satire will very likely cut you some good chuckles.

20 people found this helpful

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Don't do it.

What would have made The Children of Men better?

A different narrator; this was possibly the worst book recording I've ever listened to. The narration made it unbearable. The reading was, in parts, oddly timed and, at others, too pompous sounding for the storyline.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I couldn't listen for long enough to develop a favorite.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of David Case?

Patrick Stewart. or Michael Caine. or any actor with a less grating voice, but these are the two that came to mind.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I loved the story from the movie, and think the story of the book was far more detailed and nuanced. The narration just took so much from the story, and from Theo (the main character) that I couldn't hold on to the story. really quite sad, because I was very much looking forward to listening to this.

19 people found this helpful

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Needs another narrator

I must agree with other reviewers that the narration could be better. I was too aware of his breathing, pauses and well, him. It's like going to see a play and you're seated where you can see the backstage so well it distracts from time to time from the play.
I saw the movie before listening to the book, so another distraction was the mental comparisons between the movie and the book. The ex-wife plays less of a role than she did in the movie, the government structure becomes more prominent, and the environment gets more rural than urban. Yet, as always the book is far better than the movie.
Another, and this could be annoying, distraction was how the author wrote the book with two voices. One is in the first person of Theo as he fills his diary. The other is written in the third person. At times I had to ask myself and wonder if the book was in diary mode or not.
Though the main character is pretty much an atheist/agnostic the story is dripping with Christian themes and references. There are no perfect Christians in this story, everyone is broken in one way or another.
Overall it is an engaging book, despite the narration.

16 people found this helpful

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Narrator Nearly Ruins the Story

The Narrator is so unbelievably poor it makes the main character sort of annoying. Who speaks like this? Great story though, read the book for yourself and watch the movie for some awesome visuals to go with it.

16 people found this helpful

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Takes awhile to get going, but engrossing

It's slow going at first, and if you're expecting the story from movie you'll be disappointed. but once you get into it you won't be able to put it down. I could listen to that narrator read the phone book and be enthralled.

4 people found this helpful

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Narrator

I enjoyed the story however, personally I will avoid future audios by this Narrator. There was never any real emotion in his voice. Worse was the long silenced and sudden pause between sentences causing several times for me to reach for my phone thinking the audio app had stopped working.

4 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking!

The book took you through the progression of the main character's evolution very effectively. It started out very bleak and was often difficult to take (intentionally), but if you can continue though it the reward is great.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Not the movie

It has been a while, but I really liked the 2006 movie version of The Children of Men with Clive Owen. I picked up the audiobook of Children of Men recently because I had read two of PD James’ mysteries and wanted to see her approach to a dystopian scifi thriller might be different. Other than the broadest outlines, the book and the movie are very different. I am not really going to compare them (because it has been too long since I have watched the movie), but I will note a few things.

The main character, Theo Faron in the book is a 50 something academic. He is the cousin of the dictator and a former informal advisor. The book is set in a dystopian UK. For an unknown reason, there have not been any children born for nearly 20 years anywhere in the world. The UK, because of its governmental system and relative wealth is broadly comfortable, but the population is aging and there is a broad hopelessness. Foreigners are uses as servants that are little better than slaves. The shrinking population (both because of natural aging and large numbers of suicides) is being moved toward population centers.

Theo is lonely, self centered, but comfortable. He is haunted by his life outside of the dystopian world. He accidentally killed his 18 month old child in a car accident. His already shaky marriage continued on until just a year before the book is set, but was essentially over from the point of the accident. As an academic (19th Century literature and history) Theo is not particularly necessary in the world. He teaches adults. But his field is not essential.

Much of the power of the book is the dull hopelessness and the unrelenting introspection of Theo. The characters are believable. Flawed, but reasonably flawed. Throughout the book the ethical pressure, the moral reasoning, and the theological conversation brings weight to what could be a light dystopian thriller.

I was not particularly thrilled with the ending. But it was reasonably satisfying. The point of the book is not the end, but the process. What would you be prepared to do if you had the weight of the world. If the world was ending, how important is stability to that ending, even if there are brutal aspects of the stability. How important is comfort? Where can God be found in a dystopian tragedy?

I will try to watch the movie again soon. It is streaming on Amazon Prime for free.

3 people found this helpful

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Narrator Ruins It.

I did this book with Whispersync for Voice, but I found David Case (aka Frederick Davidson) unbearable. I find him to be one of the worst narrators ever. So, I read 99% on my Kindle, but I really enjoyed it.

If you're into the whole dystopian apocalypse thing, you definitely need to add this to the repertoire.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A must read

If you could sum up The Children of Men in three words, what would they be?

I was originally asked to read this for my college English class. I found that thoroughly enjoyed it and have recommended it to friends and family. One of those books that make you wonder if it could really happen.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Julian is my favorite. She's strong, intelligent, knows what she wants and is not afraid to go for it.

Which scene was your favorite?

The final scene with Julian and Theo in the cabin in the woods.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It definitely made me cry.

3 people found this helpful

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