Vox by Christina Dalcher

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Vox is a book that I have been excited about reading for ages. It is a book I have seen a lot about on social media in recent months, and having seen it advertised as a dystopian novel to appeal to readers of The Handmaids Tale, it was one I was keen to pick up as soon as it was published last month.

In Vox we meet a woman named Jean McClellan, a linguist who knows more than most the importance of language and communication, so when a time arises where a woman’s right to speak freely is taken away, she is left in despair, particularly for her young daughter’s future. For a while she has witnessed the negative ways in which the world is changing, and the way in which women are oppressed increasing. And it has now escalated to the point where women and girls are forced to wear wristbands which count the number of words they speak. Only 100 words are allowed each day, and anymore results in the wearer being subjected to volts of electricity being passed through their bodies. This alone is alarming enough, as women everywhere are silenced, but to add to the horror, other rights are taken away. Women are forced out of work, and have their access to bank accounts and passports taken away. Having seen this world change and previously feeling powerless to help, Jean must now do all she can to reclaim her voice, her daughters and that of women around the world. This was an interesting concept and one which had me hooked from the opening chapters.

Given current events and in particular the rise of the ‘Me Too’ movement Vox is a timely read and one which presents a cautionary dystopian tale for a modern era. And the premise for this novel was one I found intriguing and it was a book I finished in only a couple of sittings. There was a tension to the story as Jean tries to get to the bottom of the sinister goings on that surround her in order to reclaim her voice, in a world in which she has become even more restricted. We also see how the restrictions on Jean and her daughter impact her relationship with her husband and sons, as well as family friends as families and neighbourhoods are torn apart. There is a simmering resentment in the household as Jean feels more and more distant from her husband, as she struggles to comfort and nurture their daughter in a frightening world with issues beyond her comprehension. The suspense builds as Jean ventures into dangerous territory, and events spiral further out of control. And with its disturbing themes it was a book that kept my attention to the end, and made for a thought provoking read.

Vox is an enjoyable, compelling book and a dystopian read which feels particularly relevant in an era in which women are fighting more than ever to get their voices heard, a book which leaves the reader with plenty to think about long after you turn the final page.

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