Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.
The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world.
What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague; intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.
The fact that The End of Men was written before covid is incredibly impressive.
Reminiscent of World War Z, I loved the writing style. The rotating perspectives from mostly the medical or scientific community were interesting and terrifying. Early on, having these highly intelligent people basically scream into the void of government, bureaucracy, and public stupidity was frustrating and, sadly, incredibly realistic.
I enjoyed how much time Sweeney-Baird covered here, allowing us to see how the world reacted initially, throughout, and afterwards. It may have been a bit of a feminist utopia, but I can’t argue with her desire to lean into the changes in dating, politics, and society with a female majority. While I agree that society would be much better with more women in positions of power, I don’t think 90% of men dying off would basically solve everything.
Thank God I have daughters. Every single day, I’m filled with gratitude that I was spared sons.
I think I read this at the right time – removed enough from the height of the pandemic for it not to be terrifying, but still living with covid and very aware of the realities of how the world reacted. The End of Men is not only interesting as a thought experiment, but the writing is thoughtful and captivating, the characters are complex and heartbreaking, and I found these situations in improbable scenarios to be surprisingly believable.