❥ Title: VOX
❥ Author: Christina Dalcher
❥ Genre: Feminist Dystopia
❥ Publisher: HQ (HarperCollins)
❥ Goodreads Info (for synopsis and where to get a copy)
❥ Rating: 4 / 5 stars
I wonder what the other women do. How they cope. Do they still find something to enjoy? Do they love their husbands in the same way? Do they hate them, just a little bit?
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.
I bought an early copy of VOX at YALC after I asked someone at the HarperCollins booth to sell me any book they had on display. They sold VOX to me as a feminist dystopia in which women can speak only 100 words a day. That much is true… but what I didn’t know was how riled up this book would make me.
VOX, set in a near future America, depicts the corrupt politics of our society in an extreme way. Following a recent election, America has become witness to a reverse in time as women are not allowed any autonomy. From not having jobs, to speaking only 100 words a day or risk being shocked by an electric counter on their wrists. Women have been living in the ‘Pure’ government for a year when the plot picks up with Jean McClellan’s life as forcibly ‘retired’ neurolinguistic scientist turned housewife.
As soon as I began reading I was completely shocked at how raw the narrative was. Christina Dalcher was not holding back in depicting society and Jean’s thoughts. This is what hooked me into the story. I loved that it was realistic and raw from the beginning. I knew this wasn’t going to be a book that mumbles its way through the plot to just give us a surface view of the setting and characters.
As a reader, and very opinionated woman, it frightens me to think that about the possibility of speaking only 100 words a day. The stylistic decision to make the length of each chapter reflect the vocal constriction/freedom in the novel is genius! Shorter chapters for Jean has to wear her wrist counter – in which she regularly counts the words she has used. Longer chapters as more vocal freedom is granted to Jean – and she stops counting her words. This is a great way to get the reader consciously thinking about how constricting 100 words can actually be.
Jean is ruthless and I love it. She is exactly the type of woman that rocks society to its core. Although it takes her some time to build the momentum needed to step outside of the norm. She is also a brilliant mother. It is so important that Dalcher chose to keep this aspect in the book. A woman can, and should, have everything – working life, family life and a social life. Jean has all of this ripped away, even her peaceful family life. Her husband, Patrick, was a strange character to me. He seemed very timid and easily swayed by outside forces. I didn’t like him, especially after his line at the end of Chapter Fourteen. As much as this line angers me to my core, I understand why it was necessary. It comes to show how much a year in this government regime can affect society.
Each secondary male character had their moment of redemption but, being the mini feminist that I am, I can’t find it in me to accept that. Especially in the case of Steven, Jean’s son. It angers me that her son would act in such a derogatory manner towards his mother based off a system that gives him power as a male. To bring that thought deeper, I truly believe that it was Patrick’s passiveness that lead to this. As the male authority figure, living in a system granting all power to men, he should have fought against it his son’s behaviour – only given that Jean does not have the vocal freedom to do this. To put a positive twist on that thought – perhaps this is Dalcher’s method of depicting that everything can make an impression on a child therefore government officials, and any adult, should be conscious of their actions.
Before I descend into a deeper analysis of the novel (and make this one of my university essays) I’ll wrap this review up with a comment on the plot. Overall, the plot of VOX was well-thought out. There was a steady progression which allowed for the ‘Pure’ government regime to be explored and for vocal freedom to be implemented further in the novel. The reason I give VOX a four star rating is the ending. I felt it was rushed and could have been executed with better precision. I am also slightly wary about the fate of a certain character because it felt like a very easy gateway to a happy ending for Jean.
Until Next Time,