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.
This is a thinking person’s novel. The what-if scenario answered by the book is broad and deep and complex and serious owing to the collision between its Big Concept and accidental relationship to our times ... It’s also a good book for anyone wanting to gain perspective about the global pandemic we’ve all been suffering for the past two years. COVID-19 ain’t but a hiccup compared to what happens here ... If you are easily upset, skip it. The content is heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching, and in some respects terrifying—but it also embraces hope and a positive vision, so think twice before making your choice to open the cover or not ... a thought provoking, riveting story ... What makes the story work is its viewpoint presentation: first-person present-tense voices of multiple characters in short chapters. These give an immediacy that forces readers to look at the same problem from different angles ... This structure makes the story both emotional and intellectual ... Because the story is told from primarily female viewpoints, combined with the title and the central idea, some potential readers may expect it to be a feminist screed against men. But it’s the opposite, emphasizing what males bring to the world and how they are missed when they are gone ... compelling and compassionate. Most important, perhaps, is how the core nature of maleness and femaleness—the universality of humanness—shines through and reinvents itself to adapt to change in reality. After reading this book, many people’s anxieties and polarities will calm down, and they will be willing to move forward to do their individual parts to make a better world.
The afterword to this chilling dystopian debut thriller, which centers on life in a more-lethal-than-COVID epidemic, notes that it was written before our current pandemic; it gets so much right, though, from day-to-day headaches to deep despair ... Sweeney-Baird skillfully re-creates the head-spinning feeling of watching the virus pop up here, then there, and ever closer to home, and of its systematic destruction in every corner of society ... Sweeney-Baird’s look inside the heads of these and other shocked, desperate characters and her portrait of a bizarre new world are both thought- and fear-provoking. Readers will either wolf this down or elect to stay miles away from it, but controversy moves titles off the shelf. A top choice.
Sweeney-Baird swings her focus among an ever widening swathe of characters—wealthy, working class, urban, rural, White, Black, Asian, straight, LGBTQ+, British, American, Canadian, Filipino—as if afraid to leave any social subgroup out. Shallow character development is inevitable. But a captivating standout is the portrayal of brilliant gay Canadian scientist Lisa, a villainous, much-hated savior who uses the Plague as her steppingstone to wealth and fame. Meanwhile, the loss of most of the world’s male population and the ways governments react to the Plague raise complicated ethical issues. This may be just the novel you want to read right now—or the last thing you'd want to pick up ... Sweeney-Baird’s dystopian debut novel, begun in 2018, is unsettlingly prescient.