I read this and Less as kind of a pair: two popular recent novels that were probably sure shots.
The Men delivered on that, mostly. Despite the big premise (all the men disappear) it’s a plot and dialogue driven sci-fi book. There’s social commentary and gender commentary built in, but it isn’t (like some Amazon reviewers insist), a political treatise. There aren’t pages of introspection, and the eventual story that ties it all together isn’t some big statement.
It isn’t significantly anti-men, isn’t tied up in hetero-pessimism. The question of what happens to people who are trans is tackled, but makes up just a few paragraphs and one scene. I learned by a brief and immediately regretted visit to goodreads.com, that this book is widely critiqued for its commentary on trans people. Maybe a closer reading would uncover more, but I thought that it didn’t spend much time on the topic and didn’t have anything to say.
There’s some thinking about the role of women in society, about sexual politics, but I can’t say there was anything that really surprised or intrigued me. But the top Amazon review states that “This is a book men won’t ever be capable of fully understanding.” So, rock on, gender essentialism.
This is not to say it’s a bad book: it was fun to read, and it got me hooked. I could imagine it being optioned into a movie and making for a pretty entertaining film. It’s a solid, readable book that I think could’ve done more with the idea.