Vox by Christina Dalcher
Published by Berkley on August 21, 2018
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, science fiction
Format & Length: e-book, 336
Find on Goodreads
One of Entertainment Weekly’s and SheReads’ books to read after The Handmaid’s Tale
One of Good Morning America’s “Best Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer”
Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.
But this is not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
How would you feel if you lived in a world where you were only allowed 100 words a day, and going past that allotment means you’d receive an electric shock? I have a lot of feelings about this story, and this review alone is sure to be much longer than 100 words.
“Think about what you need to do to stay free.”
I’m not generally a wordy person. I like to be as concise as possible. When I listen to someone get sidetracked telling a story, I want to shake them back on track. Tangents, overly long description, and extraneous information drive me crazy. In a group conversation, I am quieter than most. I think so long before speaking that everyone else is on a new thread before I’m ready to jump into the previous one. Supposedly, the average woman speaks 20,000 words in a day compared to 7,000 for the average man. Maybe that is true, but my husband would attest to the fact that he speaks far more in a day than I ever do. I’m perfectly happy to sit in silence. But I thoroughly appreciate the freedom I have to express myself when I choose to, to read and write and speak and have my voice be heard.
I obviously knew what the premise of Vox was before picking it up, but I was surprised by just how palpably I reacted when I began reading. Dalcher used her words well, setting the scene in such a way that the tension oozed out of the page. I could feel my fists and jaw clenching, heart racing, and breath hitching. As I was drawn into Jean’s story, I imagined how I would react to certain events, and she inevitably behaved very similarly to how I would have. This not only made her quite empathetic in my eyes but also helped me to more easily forgive her for weaknesses or flaws that appeared later on.
The villain in Vox is Carl Corbin, an extremely conservative Christian who has managed to assert his values over America by weaseling his way into power. While not specifically stated, it is implied that this happened because of people who stuck their head in the sand and didn’t stand up for their rights and others when they had the chance. This packed a punch for me on many levels.
For one, I am a Christian. As a woman in modern times, there are already aspects of this that I wrestle with. And there are a wide variety of denominations under the Christian umbrella, not all of which hold the same beliefs about gender roles that this one particular man or group do. Additionally, voter turnout in the United States was at nearly its lowest point in the 2016 presidential elections, and I’m abashed to admit that I was part of the statistic who did not cast a ballot. So I found myself grappling with my preconceived attitudes and actions against the potential outcome envisioned in these pages.
There were many important issues Dalcher addressed in Vox, many of which really hit home for me. As far as the story goes, the concept, characters, and first half of the plot were extremely strong, while the second half began to falter and the ending felt a bit rushed. Ultimately, though, the writing kept me gripped and I am still thinking about the story long after finishing it. Definitely recommended.