I first started hearing buzz about Children of Men two years before the movie was released. I heard that it was based on a book by the same name and it looked like something that was right up my alley, so I went searching for the original novel.
The concept is sound and the background is well explained. The characters are well-developed and we're given as much information as we need to feel invested in the story and yet it just didn't sit right with me.
Everything was in order. Everything was appealing. There were no gaping holes in the plot or any lacking in the story itself, but I just couldn't really enjoy myself. It took me ages to figure out why.
P.D. James is a mystery writer and she's gained some measure of fame within that genre, but Children of Men isn't a mystery, it's science fiction. Someone should have mentioned that to James. It's written like a mystery, but there's no major reveal to happen at the end. As a result, the book is filled with false and unnecessary suspense and the ending is lacking because there's no real culmination of events.
So I thought to myself, well, maybe it was just the problem of a mystery writer trying to tell a science fiction story, but the movie was as much of a let down as the book was. Instead of fixing the storytelling problems, they abandoned the book entirely and worked from a rough concept. The movie execution became even stranger than the book's. Instead of a well crafted story, we received a well-crafted premise and a forced storyline that felt as if it was more about trying to make a point than trying to tell a story. It felt very contrived and cliche. Even the changes (some of which were significant) were predictable and what little was left was the same stuff that I had a problem with in the first place.
Children of Men is the first book that I have read where I felt that both the book and the movie were equally worthless. I wanted to like either or both. I TRIED to like both, but it was simply not to be. And the only people I've talked to who enjoyed the movie not only didn't read the book, they didn't even know there was one.
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