Voxby Published 21 Aug 2018
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.
This novel depicts a chilling dystopia, or as Mike Pence might call it: a visionary blue print for America. Women are limited to speaking only 100 words per day and “immoral” behavior results in hard labor concentration camps. The author does a great job of setting up the world with thinly veiled references to our current political climate. There is a clear message to receive: if you don’t speak out, someday someone will take away your voice. Either figuratively or literally.
After the initial setup, the story transitions more into a typical race against time thriller. Unfortunately that’s where I also started to lose interest. The premise is fantastic, but the espionage was cheesy and not particularly well written. For one the cast of villains aren’t bombastic enough or interesting enough. There’s an evil minister who goes around punishing people but he felt hokey and his position didn’t always make sense.
Overall: what probably started as a symbolic anti-Trump rant turned into surprisingly effective allegorical fiction. I wish the author had spent more time on the final third of the book, though, because it left a lot to be desired. Still a solid, quick read that kept me turning the pages.
These days my country consists of states united in hate. At its helm is a man-child. A bully consumed by power, lacking intellect, as well as being morally and ethically deficient. So while the premise of Vox is extreme it doesn’t seem far-fetched. The severe subjugation of women by the angry, white patriarchy is portrayed at its most monstrous. A counter worn by women allows them to speak when spoken to and then only minimally. Once the allotted one hundred words per day are spent, negative reinforcement is administered to the offending female in the form of a painful shock. Other than these few words, women are not allowed any other form of communication: no email, snail mail, books, pens, or internet access. And, nonverbal communication is not permitted which is monitored by surveillance cameras. The gay community is relegated to working farms (concentration camps), a teenage son is indoctrinated into the tenets of male supremacy and a six year old daughter’s words vanish. This dystopian novel deftly handles politics of all stripes; gender, sexual, domestic and, to a lesser degree, racial and international. Gone are the days of inclusion, tolerance and attempts at harmony. Oh wait! We’re sort of there, aren’t we?
a quick google search will show that women speak an average of 20,000 words per day. so imagine if you were limited to only 100.
pretty unfathomable thought, right? that is exactly why i love dystopian novels. they are the most effective at taking me outside of my bubble, placing me in an unfamiliar situation and making me really think, ‘what would i do if this was me?’ this book raises so many important and relevant questions in regards to female rights and equality, the role of religion in government, and the right to speech/language development. the premise and core themes of this book are extremely thought-provoking. as a thought piece, this book deserves all the stars.
but as a novel, i cant give this more than three. the writing in this is very clinical and straightforward. dalcher doesnt write like an author, she writes like a scientist. which isnt surprising considering her profession as a linguistics researcher. that sure came in handy as the majority of the plot focuses on the main characters job as a linguistics researcher (write what you know, eh?). but i couldnt find any sort of flow, character development, fleshing out of plot ideas, no sort of voice or depth. everything felt very two-dimensional, very surface level. i mean, the ideas were there (and they were fantastic ideas) but the execution left much to be desired.
i would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a dystopian book that will plant a little seed of thought into their brain, but just dont expect too much from this in regards to storytelling.
↠ 3 stars
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best science fiction 2018! what will happen?
What do they study now, our girls? A bit of addition and subtraction, telling time, making change. Counting, of course. They would learn counting first. All the way up to one hundred.
as a thought-piece, i would give this a high four stars, but as a novel, it’s got some structural flaws. it would be a very good book club choice, however - plenty of food for thought and discussion. it just needs some conceptual tightening; it’s missing that extra spark that would bring it all up into “amazing debut” territory.
the basic premise is straightforward: it’s a near-future dystopia in which white christian conservative male fundies have come to power and figured out how to keep all of us hysterical, mouthy women down - a metal “word counter” shackled around the female wrist that delivers an electric shock, of increasing intensity, for every word spoken that exceeds a woman’s daily allotment of 100. along with that, all typical dysto-rules apply: homosexuals are imprisoned until they come around and choose heterosexuality, premarital and extramarital sex has heavy consequences (for women), women aren’t allowed to read or write or work or use birth control or even collect the mail from their own mailboxes, and cameras are everywhere making sure these rules are followed.
this book is two things - it’s a cautionary tale about noninvolvement/nonparticipation, about ignoring the signs and the trends until it’s too late, and it’s also an author with a doctorate in theoretical linguistics having herself a “what if” party about excising language from 1/2 of the population.
it’s telling the story it wants to tell, and that’s not the story of “how this happens.” that’s touched upon, sure, it’s not altogether absent, but it’s not a priority. this takes place about a year after the laws go into effect, and things have happened quickly. there are lots of questions left unanswered because again - the hows and the details are not the concern here. i’m not sure what rules apply to deaf women, but i know that hearing women are not allowed to use any sign language to supplement their daily word-allotment. i’m also not sure what is determining or tabulating these word counts - at one point, the main character has one word left in her quota, and she speaks it to her daughter, “Goodnight,” which i would have counted as two words. and what about hyphenates? acronyms? there must be workarounds. but those are my concerns and what i would address if i were writing this book, but i am too lazy so i don’t get to bitch about an author not answering every question i have as a reader.
what i found most interesting was the effect upon the children. (former) cognitive linguist/wife/mother/first person narrator jean mclellan has four children: eleven-year-old twin boys, a son about to graduate from high school, and a six-year-old daughter. the twins are barely present, but the youngest and oldest are better-developed, in how they respond to these regulations, how they are changed. it’s very effective and horrifying to see a little girl adjust and apply herself enthusiastically to the rules, as though it were a game, and to see a young man embrace his role of privileged enforcer.
the weaknesses are mostly in the conflict resolutions. many of them are overcome too easily, too neatly. personal ones, like what i will call ‘patrick’s acquiescence’ and scientific ones like what i will call, ummm ‘look at the science i did just now.’ oh, and ‘final face-off,’ too. the blocking on that is still a bit muddled to me.
it’s a solid debut definitely worth reading, it’s just not a big shiny five-star MUST READ!
an interesting aside - although this was written before the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale aired, there are more than a few details that pop up in both. neither of them make the future look super-rosy. for anyone.
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According to my lazy Google search, the average woman speaks around 20,000 words/day. In this frightening precautionary tale, women are restricted to speaking less than 100 words a day. Overage? Painful electrical shocks will be dealt from the Fitbit style wrist counter you're wearing.
The premise is strong and all too real in this alternative reality where women's rights are slowly chipped away by a strong tide of religious fundamentalism until finally, we quite literally lose the language needed to speak up for ourselves.
After the Pure Movement takes hold in political offices nationwide, women lose their rights to hold jobs or bank accounts. Girls are not allowed to study science in school. Females are effectively shut out of society by taking away our words. SHUDDER SHUDDER SHUDDER.
What happens when the country's leading linguist happens to be a woman and is called out of her forced retirement by the President himself? What does he want from Dr. Jean McClellan, a mother of four and our fearless narrator? Well, that my friends is the story.
I desperately wanted to love this book. As VOX begins, I got definite The Handmaid's Tale vibes and I was thrilled with the idea of this timely narrative (#metoo). I had almost too much hope that it would be more powerful or meaningful than it ultimately is.
The execution of the story gets so bogged down with technical, boring details that the whole plot feels, ironically, mansplained. Artemis left that same taste in my mouth.
About 50% into the book, I felt disconnected from the characters and story, and it became a slow-going slog to finish. I really can't offer much explanation for it either. The good news: I seem to be in the minority and if you are intrigued by VOX, I would not dissuade you from going for it.
VOX is initially eye-opening, but for me, it just doesn't sustain the suspense or believability factor.
VOX is scheduled to hit the shelves on August 21, 2018. Thanks to NetGalley for my early copy. All opinions are my own.