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Tohle je můj čtenářský deník, který vyzrazuje zápletky a nemluví spisovně. Just sayin.

7. 5. 2011

P. D. James - Potomci lidí (The Children of men)

      I did enjoy this book, although I'd been told multiple times before reading it that it would be better just to watch the film. I still have some issues with it, though. For start, I really don't like the Czech version cover. Or any cover that uses photos from the film, for that matter. It seems cheap and degrades the book because it shows they don't have faith it would sell without a pretty picture. (Not that I have anything against a bit of Clive Owen.) Also, it might have not been the library's smartest move to file it under the 'E.T.' tag  (E.T. means sci-fi for kids). Just a thought. But none of this has actually anything to do with the book itself. Oh well.
      I really like the concept behind the story. 'Humanity dying out' doesn't sound all that original but this world with its languid despondency and a tyranny no one cares about seemed very real and I wanted to know more about it. That's why I so enjoyed the first part of the book called Omega where this world is described to us via the diary of Theo Faron.
      One day, humanity just stopped being able to reproduce. The progressive realization that this is the end of everything allowed Theo's cousin Xan to declare himself Warden of England (and that's a much cooler title than what the Czech edition uses - Governor) and make some important changes, such as creating a penal colony on the Isle of Man, using 'sojourners' from other countries as slaves and basically forcing old people to commit suicide while calling the ceremony 'Quietus'.
      (Xan is probably my favorite character. He's obviously very intelligent and power-mad but there's also something else about him. He's hard to understand and guess what he'll do next. Also, he's very charming:))
       People - at least in England - only want to live the rest of their lives in fun and freedom, not to see any unpleasantness, and for this they are willing to overlook a lot of things. And the Council gives them just that. The bad things, the fear, are always covered up, never explicit.
       It was the second part of the book that I felt didn't live up to the first. The narrative changes into a sort of adventure love story as Theo falls in love with Julian, the first woman to be pregnant in 25 years, and who also happens to be part of a five-member dissident group. The problem is, none of the group seems a well fleshed out character and I just don't care about what happens to them.One is captured by the Council, another killed by a weird youngster group. Julian's disillusioned husband runs away and to the Council and the fourth is again killed by the Council. Obviously, evil Council, evil Xan. So in the end, it's just Theo and Julian, who simply doesn't want to give birth in front of the cameras.
      After Theo, Julian and the baby share a moment of happiness in a shed, Xan comes and thinks a stand-off with his cousin is a good idea. Well, turns out it wasn't, as Theo shoots him and takes his power over the country. And possibly lives with Julian happily ever after.

      Like I said, I love the concept, I just don't care about the characters. Not even Theo, but I think that's because he seems a little impersonal. At first, I had problems with the narrative shifting from 1st person view in the diary to 3rd person narrative and back, because Theo and the narrator have pretty much the same voice and it's easy to get them confused. I guess this made me feel Theo isn't really part of a story and is more of an observer, outside. I would have loved to read more about what and how happened during those 25 years.
      I did watch the movie afterwards. It doesn't have much in common with the book. It only follows the second half of the book. They got rid of the love story, which is probably good, but they also made the pregnant woman an African refugee and made everything more violent, the anti-government people more organized and made the whole country seem like one big violent conflict, which goes right against the feel of the book. On the whole I liked the book better.

ETA: And no Xan! The film was doomed from the start. 

1 komentář:

  1. I haven't read this but your review seems to capture it nicely, both pros and cons. Too bad the movie didn't fix some of the flaws instead of leaving out the good parts (like an intriguing villain--what were they thinking?).