Book Reviews

Vox (Christina Dalcher)

Vox (Christina Dalcher)Vox by Christina Dalcher
Published by HarperCollins on August 20th 2018
Pages: 384
Goodreads

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.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Vox, and I love dystopian fiction, so I knew I wanted to read Dalcher’s debut novel.  In the near-future in the United States, women have been limited to 100 words a day – if they say any more, they get an electric shock, and the more the talk, the more the punishment ramps up. To put that into context, by the time you finish this sentence of the review, (and assuming you read the title) I’d have used up my full word allowance for the day.

I know, it’s impossible to even get your head around.  I’d get electrocuted all the damn time.

Anyway, the concept, was unique and gripping so between that and the good reviews, I went into Vox with pretty high hopes…and while I enjoyed it, I had some problems with it too.

My biggest issue with the book was the characters. It’s no secret that I’m a character-driven reader. I love a big cast of characters, anti-heroes and shades of grey villains, character growth and even ships to get invested in.  The premise of Vox is undeniably brilliant, but the characters just didn’t work for me.  Jean, our protagonist, was a doctor working on Wernicke’s aphasia before the new language rules effectively put all women out of work.  She never believed this could happen to her – and still doesn’t.  While her initial disbelief made her very relatable, the more I learned about the events leading up to the current day and the more she refused to see what was going on, the more I came to dislike her.  She began to feel a bit like an ostrich, deliberately putting her head in the sand rather than facing anything.  I also just found her a bit unlikeable; she makes plenty of anti-men generalisations which I could understand given the setting, but she’s also quite judgemental of other women which just seemed a little unecessary.

Dalcher’s put a lot of thought into her world, how events unfolded and the effects having such a word limit would have, all of which were things I loved.  There’s a reasonable amount of medical and scientific terminology but that didn’t put me off, and using it fit well with Jean’s character.  I thought the book could have been slightly shorter: the ending wraps up very quickly but the pacing of that final section is much more the gripping intensity I expected.

Buy it? I’m a character-driven reader so for me this is a borrow, but if you’re not so fussed about getting emotionally attached to characters the premise is awesome.
In a nutshell: Great premise but let down by the characters.

 

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