Audio book on Scribd
- 4 out of 5 Stars
- 336 pages
- Published August 21st, 2018 by Berkley
- Original Title – Vox
- ISBN 0440000785 (ISBN13: 9780440000785)
- Edition Language English
- Characters Jean McClellan, Patrick McClellan, Sonia McClellan, Steven McClellan, Jackie Juarez…more
- Setting Georgetown, Washington, D.C. (United States)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2018)
From the publisher, “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.”
We live in a world of contradictions, a wild world of feminism and Donald Trump. A society that needs the plethora of feminist dystopias that have risen due to our collective anxieties and we need them to give these feelings of unease a voice. This book provides a direction and says, “See this is what could happen if we don’t change our course.” Now, Vox is an extreme example. Dalcher is not trying to give us a vision of a likely future. It is more of a radical thought experiment and an interesting one at that.
Vox is part of the dystopia movement brought on by society and the popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale. If one was looking at patriarchal societal timelines, Vox occurs before the Handmaid’s Tale could. The storyline of Vox happens one year after the rise of a fundamentalist Christian movement based upon a literal translation of the old testament. Woman have lost the right to read, write, hold a job, have control over their own bodies, and eventually the right to speak more than 100 words a day. Much of the religious zealotry is couched in the idea that women, who come directly from man, need to be protected from themselves and resume the rightful role that is preordained in society. This leaves our main protagonist, Dr. Jean McClellan without a job and a purpose. Jean, a world-famous scientist, and linguist must shut down the part of her that is so desperate to be free. The part that yearns to speak. The reader spends a lot of time listening to Jean’s internal monologue. Also, very much in the vein of dystopias of this ilk, homosexuals lose the ability to speak and are shipped off to “work” camps for some forced sexual re-education. Heterosexual pre-marital sex is work camp worthy (for women), and if a woman is unable to marry and be supported by a male, she may go to work in government-run brothels to take care of the needs of unmarried men in society. Men have needs, you know.
Most of the plot revolves around Jean’s trouble, both familial and societal with her imposed shackles, and what happens when Jean needs to have a voice again. The government decides to allow her a chance to work on an experimental vaccine, and from that, the meat of the plot actually happens.
This story is many things: Discourse on female roles in society, how marginalized people are treated under tyrannical regimes, how important language is in culture. Mostly though, the book speaks a lot on non-participation in government, or as I like to think of it “frog in a pot.” We, as a society, give up small, almost unimportant, values and rights to help the “greater good.” In doing so, our more substantial rights are slowly eroded upon. The second theme of the story is the author’s thought experiment. What if a language was excised from society? What then? What happens to fifty percent of society that loses their voice?
I think the main issue I have with this story is pacing. The story is interesting, and well written and held a constant, albeit slow pace through most of the book. But, the central denouement of the story didn’t happen till 30 pages or so from the end. The reader just coasted on the troubles that Jean has with her forced verbal shackles. The shackles are very important, but the lack plot movement. The ending felt rushed and added on to give the story an arc. Also, the conflicts that did occur throughout the story were very neatly tied up at the end. This lost me a bit. Romantic relationships, especially ones that are very long, don’t just tie up with a neat bow and again, the resolutions to the family conflicts felt added on. The story felt like many great ideas all sort of duct taped together.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book and a fantastic debut for author Dalcher. It just feels uneven. I do recommend reading this tho. Even with the plot feeling uneven, it is a fascinating book and well written.
This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info
About the Author
From Goodreads, Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at universities in the United States, England, and the United Arab Emirates.
Her short stories and flash fiction appear in over one hundred journals worldwide. Recognitions include the Bath Flash Award’s Short List; nominations for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions; and multiple other awards. She teaches flash fiction as a member of the faculty at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency represents Dalcher’s novels.
After spending several years abroad, most recently in Sri Lanka, Dalcher and her husband now split their time between the American South and Naples, Italy.
Her debut novel, VOX, will be published in August 2018 by Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House).