My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have tried a PD James novel before and wasn’t keen. It was one of her detective ones and I don’t really like detective novels set in Britain, they are a bit twee – American ones seem much more gritty.
So I wasn’t sure about this book before I read it. I haven’t seen the film.
The book started off slow, and I wasn’t quite sure why we were getting so much background on the main character Theo. In fact it was almost halfway through the book before the actual story started. I kept reading though as I was intrigued by the premise of the story – no children have been born for 25 years and the population is slowly getting older. England is ruled by the Warden who is Theo’s cousin. The Isle of Man is a huge penal colony which has no-one to run it, and elderly people are invited to take part in voluntary mass suicides. It is all a bit grim. As everyone gets older, things are starting to deteriorate, roads falling into disrepair, villages becoming deserted as people move into towns to get the resources still available, people are stockpiling food if they can.
And then Theo meets a small group of dissidents who want to challenge the Warden’s beliefs. One of them is a pregnant woman and they are trying to keep this a secret from the Warden so they all go on the run. Theo finds himself committing crimes to get them food and transport, going against his nature but feeling compelled to protect the woman.
I found the descriptions quite haunting and this book certainly makes you wonder if this could happen. And how long would society keep going in its present form if it did? I’d really like to know what happened next too. I wasn’t sure about the role of the Omegas who were the last generation to be born and who became a bit wild and feral. I guess it just added a bit of drama when they caught the group on one occasion.
But overall I really liked it. If PD James has written any other stand alone books like this I would be interested to read them. I’ll have to look into that.