Vox by Christina Dalcher is a dystopian novel that takes place in the United States after a new extremist president has been elected. Women have been fitted with word counters and a daily allotment of 100 words per day. Speak over the allotment? The counter emits an electric shock to the left wrist that increases in intensity proportionally to the number of words above the limit. Why? This is the new regime's plan to silence women and bring society back in time, the Pure Movement.
The movement started down south in the Bible Belt and spread slowly amongst the nation when no one thought it would be possible. Women aren't only prohibited from speaking. Cameras installed in each household discourage non-verbal communication. They also aren't allowed access to books, computers, pens or paper. The goal is to have women remain dutiful housewives while the men go to work and make the decisions of household.
Jean is living with her husband Patrick and their four children, three boys and one girl. Prior to the new administration, Jean had been working as a scientist trying to discover a cure for Wernicke's aphasia (where the brain knows what it wants to say but the words come out as an unrelated jumbled mess.) Now she's left with her 100 words and trying to teach her six year-old daughter how to navigate this new normal.
Jean has seen what they've done to the other's who have resisted, fought and protested and she is determined to keep her daughter safe. Until of course, the administration taps her to continue her research on the aphasia serum and Jean soon learns they have far more sinister plans for its use...
I absolutely loved this book for the first eighty percent of it (and will reveal why below.) It was riveting and so well written. It gave a truly horrifying look into how extremism can rise to ultimate power when people are silent. It really details how the changes start small and may not affect everyone but little by little an entire nation is converted into this extreme belief (think Hitler's Germany.) I think that's one of the main reasons why this book is such a hot and controversial read in today's landscape. Dalcher's writing is so compelling I was immediately sucked in from the first page and couldn't wait to see how the story would unfold.I guess I'm left not really sure how to rate this book as a whole. The first 80% of it would be 5 coffee cups FOR SURE. But the ending left me wanting SO MUCH MORE. I wish that the author had taken the time to explore all the intricacies of the subplot. It could've elevated the book to a whole new level but instead leaves me rating the ending about 1-2 coffee cups. I'm going to settle on 4 cups because I was so compelled throughout MOST of the book but I left it feeling so frustrated and disappointed. If you like dystopian novels like The Handmaid's Tale you will certainly be drawn to this book.
I'm a firm believer in reading a book and judging for yourself so please don't let my review of the ending turn you away. For most of it, it was one of the best books I had read in awhile and I know plenty of people who love the ENTIRE book and have rated it 5 stars. That's what makes the world go round right? I love that this book has sparked so much discussion online and I definitely recommend checking it out and joining the conversation!
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