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P.D. James
278 Pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber (September 2006)
ISBN: 0571233775
Price: S$17.35 (Available in Borders)





We already know what would happen to all of us if we do not take care of our dear Earth properly. Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth taught us invaluable lessons on that.

Now, brace yourself for yet another bleak future where no children will ever be born again. Yes, horrors of all horrors, we would all be infertile – in P.D. James’ 1992 sci-fi novel, that is.

Her 12th book is set in 2021, where no children have been born since 1995. People are dying one by one, and it does not help that the older ones are a depressing lot, while the younger ones are filled with unnecessary angst. Enter our hero Theo Faren, who is tasked with protecting the last pregnant woman on earth. This wouldn’t be an easy assignment, with a dictatorial leader above him, and worse still, his own inner demons which he has been fighting since he lost his family.

From the synopsis, you can tell that this isn’t an easy book to swallow, with such a drab and dreary setting. And you are right, because it does make you think about the unwelcome possibilities if this scenario really happened to mankind in the near future.

James splits her book into two halves, with the first mainly written in Faren’s diary form. While this half makes a philosophical read which feels more personal and intimate, the second half changes gear and shifts into full action and descriptive mode. Vividly illustrating the perils Faren goes through protecting the last pregnant woman on earth, you’d be flipping the pages quickly to find out what happens next.

You can almost imagine an action thriller on the beg screen taking place. And director Alfonso Cuaron has kindly adapted this novel into a movie starring the broody Clive Owen as Faren.

The book also deals with ideas of faith and religion, without being too preachy. It will make you reflect on these delicate notions which only you hold dear to your heart. You’d probably put aside the annoying factor of those noisy kids you encounter on the train, and see them in different light after reading this book?


Rolf said:” I used to believe in God and the Devil and then one morning, when I was twelve, I lost my faith. I woke up and I found that I didn’t believe in any of the things the Christian brothers taught me. I thought that if that ever happened I’d be too frightened to go on living, but it didn’t make any difference. One night I went to bed believing and the next morning I woke up unbelieving. I couldn’t even tell God I was sorry because he wasn’t there anymore. And yet it didn’t really matter. It didn’t matter ever since.”


An engaging read that is both reflective and entertaining. Do not rush through the book, because it does have an important story to tell. You’d be impressed with how the last page of the book concludes the novel with an appropriate effect that is mixed with calmness and disturbance.

Review by John Li


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