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.
|Publisher: The Borough Press|
|Format: Ebook, audio, hardback (29 April 2021)|
|Page Count: 416|
|Source: pdf copy for review|
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and place on the tour.
I’ve been deliberately avoiding reading books featuring anything Covid related as it’s been bad enough living through these times let alone reading about them but given that the author started writing this in 2018, finishing in 2019, I was intrigued to know how her work of fiction matched up to the reality of the pandemic that we are still going through from 2020.
The End of Men is exactly that. A ‘male plague’ has hit the world, killing 90% of the male population. This story, spanning a period of about five years, doesn’t focus so much on the act of dying but rather how society reacts to such horrific events, the aftermath and how those left behind – women and a few surviving men have to adapt to a new way of living. One of the things that struck me the most was the horror and the finality of the situation. The women knowing that their parent, husband, sons, young children would most likely die and the men facing certain death.
In 2025 in the Independent Republic of Scotland (yes, Scotland is separate from England and Wales!) a Glasgow A&E doctor, Amanda Maclean first realises that a flu like virus is rapidly killing male patients – it takes just days from infection to death. When she tries to alert the public health officials, she is ignored and brushed off as a hysterical women making a fuss. By the time they finally take notice it is too late, infection rates are too high and the spread is beyond control. Amanda will not let this go. She wants to know what caused the virus – and follows the trail from Patient Zero to try and find answers.
Catherine is an anthropologist at UCL in London. Her part in the story is to research and collect stories and experiences from those affected as a way of remembrance for both her loved ones and for others.
There are several viewpoints throughout the book, from people all over the world, and in all situations. Aside from Amanda and Catherine, they include Dawn, working in the UK Government and dealing with panicking politicians. Elizabeth, an American junior pathologist on secondment to London to work on immunity and vaccines, Toby together with his brother, is one of over 300 passengers on a stranded cruise ship off the Iceland coast and Lisa, an egotistical Canadian scientist in the race to find a vaccine.
I found it interesting to compare the reality of our Covid situation versus this fictionalised pandemic. In the book, research was urgently needed to discover the genes which gave men immunity; women were asymptomatic but could infect men. Then there was the race to find a vaccine – it makes you realise how fortunate we are to be in the position we are in now with vaccines in such a short space of time.
Covid has been devastating enough but a virus as deadly and targeted like this would be so much worse and would change life as we know it. Everyones survival relies on women and the few men that are left. The state takes control in so many aspects of people’s lives – including allocating jobs and people lose the freedom of choice. The worlds population is so severely depleted that male babies are specially protected by the state, healthcare and treatment is restricted to those who face the best chance of survival. There is food rationing…the list is endless.
The End of Men certainly is a sobering and thought provoking read. Some of the dialogue made me smile, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, at other times I was incredibly moved by the heartbreaking scenarios and sheer amount of loss by being totally invested in the story and characters. I am sure that at times most of us have a moan about our menfolk, but as the author has so eloquently demonstrated by this story, the world without them would be unimaginable. I don’t think I could have read this a year ago but now that we are in a very different place, I found it quite a powerful read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christina was born in 1993 and grew up between London and Glasgow. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a First in 2015. Christina works as a Corporate Litigation lawyer in London. The End of Men is her first novel.