VOX is the debut novel by novelist and flash fiction writer, Christina Dalcher whose work has appeared in several pretigious magazines, including The Molotov Cocktail. VOX was originally published in 2018 by HQ, a HarperCollinsPublishers subsidiary.
Synopsis: Set in a dystopian reality in modern-day America, a fanatical government has stripped all women of basic rights, including their speech, which is now limited to only 100 words per day. As well as being stripped of their jobs, they have also been forced to wear wrist counters set to shock them into submission with a thousand volts if they overstep their 100-word limit.
The story follows our heroine Dr Jean McClellan as she fights against this corrupt system, above all else for her daughter Sonia, who has known nothing but the Pure Movement.
This novel has a very strong feminist rhetoric that almost seems like a look into the imaginings of a misogynistic Republican, vying to make America great again by stripping women of words and rights and forcing them to become domesticated housewives, only fit for cooking and child-bearing.
The overt feminist tone is further compounded by such characters as Jackie Juarez, a former college friend of Jean. Jackie is the complete antithesis of the ‘traditionalist woman,’ in the way she campaigns for women’s rights and her daring fashion sense, which acts as a further affront to patriarchal ideals.
Needless to say, the representation of men in this novel is one of villainous antagonism. Though I was intrigued by the premise, I found the overall concept of this story to be very anti-male. However, I loved how the plot developed and how events progressed quite quickly, thereby grabbing my attention early on in the story and maintaining momentum until the end.
The writing has a sense of urgency and air of suspense that also held my interest throughout; I thought the use of the present tense felt very pragmatic, matter-of-fact and clinical, almost as a complement the scientific presence in the story.
In terms of characterisation, I really enjoyed Steven’s development, Jean’s eldest son, as he undergoes the most change which culminates in a sense of redemption for his character.
This book would’ve been a five-star read for me if not for the anti-climatic ending, which I was satisfied with but which felt very rushed and sparse. Nonetheless, VOX was an imaginative, suspenseful and harrowing read that I would definitely recommend to all you dystopian thriller readers out there!
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