cover image The End of Men

The End of Men

Christina Sweeney-Baird. Putnam, $17 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-32813-2

In Sweeney-Baird’s philosophically sweeping and emotionally intimate speculative debut, a viral plague that’s first detected in 2025 Scotland kills 90% of the world’s men within days of contact. A series of narratives follows major players over the next six years, including Glasgow physician Amanda Maclean, who, after being disbelieved about her treatment of Patient Zero, becomes determined to discover the source of the plague; London social historian Catherine Lawrence, who’s collecting stories of the plague while protecting her husband and son for as long as possible; and Elizabeth Cooper, a junior CDC pathologist who is in over her head in representing the U.S. research response in Europe. Smaller vignettes highlight other implications of the situation: a woman takes advantage of the situation to kill an abusive spouse, and an entrepreneur becomes rich through a women-only dating site for those who wouldn’t previously have considered dating women. The research side of the story line may feel unrealistic to those with a science background, but the personal politics and gender dynamics are spot-on, and readers will feel connected to the main characters’ struggles and resilience. Sweeney-Baird is a writer to watch. [em]Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Apr.) [/em]