It begins in Glasgow – a flu-type virus, fatal to almost half the population. Like any successful virus, it spreads in secrecy, jumping from victim to victim in the early days of infection, spreading asymptomatically and being passed from friend to friend, colleague to colleague, parent to child.
By the time the symptoms emerge, it is too late. This is a virus with almost a 100% mortality rate for those in one particular group. Unfortunately, that group makes up almost half the world’s population.
Told through a series of vignettes, the novel charts the course of the virus as it sweeps across the world, and the human costs and achievements of the battle against it.
The narrative is genuinely heart-breaking at times , but The End of Men is by no means a one trick pony. It’s also a story of determination and accomplishment, of over-coming barriers, and of societal change. There’s maybe a small amount of revenge, too – I think I’d find it quite satisfying to build a world where men were forced to endure the attitudes and attentions that have been foisted on women all this time.
Sweeney-Baird actually wrote this in 2018/19, so it’s complete happenstance that we’ve ended up with a real-life flu-like viral pandemic that adversely affects men more than women around the time of publication. I’m not sure whether that means more or fewer people will buy the book (it’s slated for publication in
April 2021), but I found it compelling enough to read over a 24-hour period. Hopefully, by April we’ll be far along enough with vaccinations to allow The End of Men the exposure it deserves.
I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.