Silence can be deafening.

Jean spends her days in almost complete silence, limited to a quota of just one hundred words a day.

No woman is able to speak over this limit without punishment by electric shock.

But when the President’s brother suffers a stroke, Jean is temporarily given back her voice in order to work on the cure.

And she soon soon discovers that she is part of a much larger plan: to eliminate the voices of women entirely.

Our Review

Vox by Christina Dalcher is my favourite book of the year so far. It strongly reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale which is high praise coming from me as The Handmaid’s Tale is my all- time favourite book.

The average human speaks sixteen thousand words a day but in Vox women and girls are limited to just 100 words a day. Jean is one of those women and though she is unhappy with her lot there is nothing she can do or say to change it until one day a powerful man asks for her help.

“If anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit Morgan LeBron in a weeks’ time. I wouldn’t believe them. But I wouldn’t argue. I wouldn’t say a thing. I’ve become a woman of few words.”

Via Jean we learn that every woman and girl have to wear a ‘bracelet’ with a word counter on. Once it passes one hundred the wearer receives a shock. The message is clear that women should be seen and not heard.

Reading about Jean’s experiences is enough to make anyone angry thinking about the type of society they live in, but it was the experiences of her young daughter Sonia that really made my blood boil. Sonia also has a counter and it never goes above 40 a day. Then one day someone demonstrates what happens when the wearer exceeds their count and the next day she wins a prize at school for using the fewest words. She is rewarded for her silence.

“…if the three R’s weren’t now reduced to one: simple arithmetic. After all, one day my daughter will be expected to shop and run a household, to be a devoted and dutiful wife. You need math for that, but not spelling. Not literature. Not a voice.”

Jean is a very strong character and one the reader will empathise with. It’s the little things that got to me when reading about her situation, things like being unable to read her daughter a bedtime story or comfort her when she had a nightmare.

There were signs prior to the change in the status of women, things like women no longer being able to obtain a passport. Signs Jean didn’t notice until it was too late to escape. Jean’s old friend Jackie had tried to warn her and others before it happened, but she had thought she was overreacting.

The most infuriating character for me was Jean’s husband Patrick. On the surface he was harmless enough because he didn’t agree with the system, but he certainly didn’t do anything to fight against it either. He was compliant and thought his wife should be too to make things easier.

Women in Vox don’t have access to books or writing materials anymore as part of the system.

“It’s the little stuff I miss most. Jars of pens and pencils tucked into the corners of every room, notepads wedged in between cookbooks, the dry erase shopping list on the wall next to the spice cabinet. Even my old refrigerator poetry magnets, the ones Steven used concoct ridiculous Italo-English sentences…Gone, gone, gone. Like my e-mail account.

Like everything.”

Jean struggles in her new life to adjust to the way the men in her life have reacted to the change in circumstances.

“I don’t hate them. I tell myself I don’t hate them.

But sometimes I do.

I hate that the males in my family tell Sonia how pretty she is. I hate that they’re the ones who soothe her when she falls off her push-bike, that they make up stories to tell her about princesses and mermaids. I hate having to watch and listen.

It’s a trial reminding myself they’re not the ones who did this to me.

Fuck it.”

During the course of the book we see Jean commit small acts of rebellion with very little fear of the consequence because she knows that they won’t kill her for it.

“They won’t kill me for the same reason they won’t sanction abortions. We’ve turned into necessary evils, objects to be fucked and not heard.”

The author has a clear message for the reader, for women in particular – use your voice, use your vote or lose the right to complain about the situation you find yourself in. Jean didn’t vote for this new order, but she didn’t vote at all.

I read the entirety of Vox in just a few hours because it was so good. I can’t wait to reread it.


Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

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