Book review: Vox by Christina Dalcher


Title: Vox

Author: Christina Dalcher

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 21st August 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

“Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

My review:

As a linguist and fan of dystopian fiction I was hoping that Vox would explore the current climate driving extremist views on sexism while shining light on the importance of expression and autonomy. Although at first it seemed to me that the premise of this book is exactly what I expected,  in actuality there are so many other deep rooted issues examined through the main character’s point of view that my opinion on the book changed quite drastically after finishing it.

Imagine a world where women are deprived of one of their basic rights: the freedom of expression. Suddenly young girls are obliged to follow an outdated curriculum that no longer includes reading or writing. Females are obliged to only speak 100 words per day or otherwise face the pain of electricity shot through their veins as punishment for extending their limit. The concept seems so terrifying and yet at the same time not too far from reality and this combination is exactly what prompted me to read Vox.

By far the most interesting aspect for me was the science behind the linguistics research carried out by the main character, Jean. Not only was it well researched and educational but also relevant to the development of the plot and sudden turn of events during the final chapters. Sudden societal changes and human reaction has been widely diversified in other literature like The Handmaid’s Tale but the focus on language and how it affects our emotional state made this book stand out from others in the market.

Unfortunately I was not moved by any of the characters and felt that some of the other story lines explored, such as Jean’s love interest, were too unimportant when considering the significance of the surroundings. It seemed almost ruthless that instead of focusing on the investigation delivered to her by the government as one of the few specialists on the subject she preferred to attract attention in other ways. My disinterest in her character grew even more towards the end as the confrontation between her team and the government unfolded in what felt like a simple solution to a very complex problem.

Rarely do I have such conflicting opinions on a book but Vox really disturbed me. There is much to love in this book and a lot to think about while reading it however certain elements felt unnecessary and the characters were too dull to fully hold my attention. Nevertheless, I am pleased that I decided to read this book as the concepts explored stayed with me for a very long time.

15 thoughts on “Book review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

    1. Thanks! I haven’t read any books that will come out this fall yet but a book that I read recently and loved is The Passengers by John Marrs so you could definitely have a look into it!

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  1. I love reading books with well developed characters too and it’s weak it’ll definitely affect my rating of the book. That said, this still looks like a book that you didn’t regret reading? Grew review, btw 🙂

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    1. Thank you! I feel like this is one of those books that would bring up different reactions depending on when you read it. I’d also be curious about how I would feel about it in years to come.

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  2. I haven’t read this one, mainly because I have a real problem with the idea that somehow husbands, fathers and sons would go along with the idea. It seems pretty damning of men as a gender and I get kinda fed up with the kind of feminism that feels men have to be the villain. But I know it’s unfair of me to judge the book without reading it – maybe she gives a valid explanation of why all men would buy into this world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand your point of view and share it to a certain extent. The author attempts to explore this concept too although not completely successfully. It’s a shame though because it’s also one of the reasons why I decided to read the book but in the end was a little confused with her reasoning.

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    1. Thanks! I also really like the idea of exploring the importance of one’s voice and I think you’ll end up liking that part of it if you decide to read it because it’s really powerful and well researched.

      Liked by 1 person

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