This is a story about a plague of infertility, revolutionaries against a corrupt government, and what happens when a woman finally becomes pregnant. Theo Faron is a Victorian scholar at Oxford and cousin to the Warden of England; he is approached by a group of revolutionaries because of this connection.
The Warden, Xan, is part of a governmental response to a plague of infertility, which includes overprotecting the Omegas (the last generation born), implementing compulsory medical exams seeking fertility, and oppressing Sojourners.
After seeing that Quietus is not a voluntary suicide by a group of older people, but is actually a forced killing, Theo decides to help the revolutionaries.
Julian, an attractive member of the resistance, is also one reason Theo joins the group. He is divorced and accidentally killed his daughter many years earlier, so he feels like he must repent for his sins.
Theo tries to speak with Xan and his Council, but his legitimate concerns are dismissed. The resistance, under the name The Five Fishes distributes pamphlets. One of the Fishes, Luke, is a priest. Interrogations drive Theo to flee with them.
He eventually discovers that Julian is pregnant by Luke, and they need to escape the attention of the Warden and his Council until the baby is born. Along their journey, they are attacked by a group of Omegas, and Luke is killed.
Theo, Julian, and her midwife hide out in a forest until the baby, a boy, is born. The midwife is killed when searching for water, and Theo confronts Xan in a final showdown.
Best part of story, including ending:
This story highlighted important issues such as women's agency over their bodies, immigrant rights, and intellectual freedom.
Best scene in story:
The scene where Theo visits a newly born litter of kittens, which are treated like babies in the infertile world, was great.
Opinion about the main character:
I loved that Theo carried around a copy of Emma--it explained his odd love of Julian.
In the year 2021 humans are no longer conceived through sexual reproduction, as a worldwide epidemic has rendered mankind sterile. In fact no new humans are produced through any means, thus initiating the impending extinction of humans as a species on Earth. The world has fallen under repression and tyranny. Nowhere is it more despotic than in England under the reign of Warden Xan Lyppiatt. The novels middle-aged narrator Dr. Theodore (Theo) Faron, a former Oxford historian is cousin to Lyppiatt and grew up with the future ruler spending carefree summers at his Woolcombe estate. A troubling generation of humans called the Omegas, born in the last year of human conception 1995, raised spoiled and without discipline, have reached adulthood self-absorbed and now contribute little to the dying brotherhood of man, often roving in bands of painted marauders killing random victims. No solution to human infertility has been found despite dedicating tremendous resources to testing and research.
Faron's own life has been fraught with turmoil and pain. Many years earlier he accidentally ran over his 15-month old daughter leading to his already precarious marriage ending badly. He is approached by a pretty woman named Julian, who represents a group of radical reformers out to bring about change to many of the Warden and his Council's social policies. At one time Faron sat on the Council. The reformers call themselves the Five Fishes and are comprised of a former midwife called Miriam, a young religious man named Luke, a demolitions expert named Gascoigne, Julian, and her abrasive husband Rolf. Initially, they convince Faron to talk to the Warden before distributing a pamphlet making demands to the Warden for reform. When peaceful means lead nowhere, they begin the systematic destruction of the landings used for euthanasia ceremonies performed on the elderly called the Quietus. When Gascoigne is arrested, Faron is enlisted to aid the revolutionaries in their flight away from London, the Warden, and his secret police force. Their escape is complicated by the fact that Julian is now pregnant, soon to give birth to the world's first child in over 25 years and she and Faron have strong feelings for each other.
This report prepared by David Fletcher