The Children of Men (1992) for my free-form book club (go DAFFODILS!). I was very into this choice since I (a) like dystopian science fiction and (b) really liked the movie version and figured if nothing else I could day dream about Clive Owen while reading it. I did end up really enjoying the book, although it has little in common with the movie version beyond the general premise and the character names.
The book takes place in 2021, 26 years after all the men on the planet became infertile. The last generation of humans, known as the Omegas, are beautiful nihilistic jerks and our narrator, Theo Faron, is a cynical and disconnected history professor who sometimes tries to teach them. Theo is divorced after his shaky marriage fell completely apart with the death of their daughter in a tragic accident that was his fault. He lives alone and is comfortable but dissatisfied. He is thrown into the politics of post-Omega England when he is approached by a young woman from one of his classes who asks him to talk to the Warden of England on behalf of her and a small group of protesters. They want to stop the government regulated mass suicides of the elderly, the mandatory fertility testing, the unsupervised prison islands, and the poor treatment of immigrants from other countries. Theo is in a place to help because his cousin, Xan, is the Warden -- a replacement for the prime minister and the King who makes all the decisions for the country, together with a small council. The meeting with the council doesn't go well, but now Theo has a cause and something to actually do, and he can't separate himself from the work of the rebel group. When the unimaginable happens, he finds himself willing to sacrifice everything for the cause.
This is a pretty philosophical and extremely British book with digressions on politics, theological implications, and moral and ethical tests of its characters and readers. While the plot and the action move the story along quickly, this is no sweaty Clive Owen action-filled story like the film. Wikipedia tells me that the late P.D. James was pleased with the film version even though it was so different from her original novel, and I can see why she liked it. It captures the world she created, but comes at it in a way that plays better on the screen. The novel, on the other hand, is the perfect way to explore the cold, intellectual, privileged mind of Theo and experience the slow warming and opening that he undergoes as he becomes more and more involved with Julian and her friends. Literary science fiction doesn't always work for me, but in this case, James really pulls it off. There is a lot to think about here, and it's a rewarding read.
And the cats! The cats!