Book Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Set in a United States in which 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 one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

This is just the beginning…not the end.

I burned myself out on dystopian novels a few years ago, so now I like to wait until I’m really in the mood before I pick one up. I’d seen Vox just about everywhere when it was originally published. It was all over book blogs, all over bookstagram, in magazines and on TV and just… everywhere. I was a little nervous, honestly. I don’t always do well with hype. But eventually, I decided to read it.

What’s happened in Vox is that women have lost their voice. They get 100 words per day and are punished if they go over their limit. This has effectively banned them from employment and made them entirely dependent on their husbands. In addition to the ban on speaking, there are bans on homosexuality and premarital or extramarital sex. Women that were once at the top of their field, like Jean, the main character, are now limited to cooking and raising children, never really leaving the house because they can’t communicate if they do.

What’s terrifying about this book is that it’s not that unbelievable. I mean, do I think the government is going to strap a device to my wrist that electrocutes me if I talk too much? No. (But neither did the characters in this book, I guess.) But given the current political climate and attitudes toward women that we see from some politicians, this book hit pretty close to home.

I think that Dalcher did a great job of showing how out of control the constant regulations on women’s health could get, given the right circumstances. I just think she went about it in a very heavy-handed way. I was never 100% on board with the premise — after all, would an entire world just sit idly by while the U.S. government effectively silenced half of its population? — but I was going with it. Then we hit the second half of the book.

I don’t want to spoil what happens, so I’m not going to get into details. But the entire second half of this book was one over-the-top plot twist after another. Any plot twist you could think of probably happens. To the main character. To her family. To minor characters. In the government. Everything. And the ending really disappointed me. I can understand how it made sense, but it seemed to contradict the entire point of the book.

Regardless of how I felt about the second half, though, this book was an overall good read. If you’re in the mood for some feminism and some dystopian themes, you could definitely do worse than Vox.

#wian20: 4 letters or less

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