Voxby Christina Dalcher Published 21 Aug 2018
Download Vox (2014) PDF ePub eBook
- 1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.
- 2. Download as many books as you like.
- 3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.
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.
Maybe this is how it happened in Germany with the Nazis, in Bosnia, with the Serbs, in Rwanda with the Hutus. I’ve often wondered about that, how kids can turn into monsters, how they can learn that killing is right and oppression is just, how in one single generation the world can change on its axis into a place that is unrecognizable. Easily, I think, and push out of my chair.Words matter.
If your ideal of womanhood tends toward the Stepford-ish, Vox will present an image of paradise. For the rest of us, it offers a dark vision of a possible future in which the lines between religion of the extremist, fundamentalist sort, and government are not just blurred, but erased. (See Taliban, ISIS, or any of many Christian sects that insist that civil law should be based on the Bible) God knows there are plenty of places in the USA where a large number of folks would be just fine with that, as long as it is the proper religion. Well, probably not the majority of the women. Instead of the saying “Children should be seen but not heard,” substitute females of almost any age for children, and you have the core of this dystopian novel.
Christina Dalcher - image is from her site
Woody Allen’s 1971 film, Bananas, satirized Central American (and American) politics. A deranged leader had let power go to his head and decided to shake things up.
From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.There are different lunatics in charge in Vox, but the restrictions are just as insane, if much less amusing. Females are allowed only one hundred words per day. (The official language of American women is silence?) And they will have to wear wrist-band counters that keep track. Exceeding the daily quota results in a painful electrical shock. Run off at the mouth and the punishment becomes deadly. Girls at school are given rewards for speaking the fewest words in a day.
Image from HuffPo
Jean McLellan is a cognitive linguist. She is as shocked as most are by the imposition of outrageous strictures on her, and on all females. Makes it tough not only to do the work for which she was trained, (or, maybe not, as women have been relegated to homemaking, so don’t worry your pretty little head about that whole job thing) but makes it a challenge even to carry on normal human conversations within her family. Her husband, Patrick, is the science advisor to the president, surely a jokey position in a country where science is silenced and faith of a certain sort is given all the bullhorns. But then Jean is approached by representatives of El Presidente. Her professional services are required. It seems the dear leader’s brother had an oopsy while skiing and now has a particularly nasty brain injury, one that impacts his abillty to use language. Jean negotiates a deal, and goes to work. Complications ensue, not least is the presence on the research team of the incompetent rectum who stepped up to leadership when the women were kicked out, and someone from her past. Will they be able to use their scientific super powers for the forces of good, or be bested by the forces of evil?
Image from MissMuslim.com
Yes, it is not a realistic projection of things to come. If millions of women marched in response to the election of Swamp Thing, I seriously doubt that a program like the one presented here would have been instituted as quickly as this one was, or at all. (well, in most states, anyway) The response would, I expect, have been less Lysistrata and more Wonder Woman, with maybe a dose of Medea tossed in. Despite the excesses of our current administration, there are limits beyond which people actually would respond, and actively resist. But the point of the novel is not, clearly, to present a real potential future, but to highlight the importance of speech, of language in personal and political freedom, particularly for women.
Image from Betanews.com
These are notions that merit consideration. Schools in Vox are made to offer AP Religious Studies classes that not only crowd out class time for Biology and History, but omit the comparative element of the study of religions in favor of promoting the religious track favored by those in charge. So, propaganda. This is hardly a huge leap from school systems that insist on teaching that lovely oxymoron, creation science, alongside actual, reality-based, testable science, and pretending equivalence. Similar to the approach of some news providers who seem to think that balance consists of offering equal time to truth-tellers and liars. Linguistics. Language. Call bullshit a rose often enough and weak-minded people will begin to enjoy the scent. (Fake news?) We live in a NewSpeakian world, so looking at the power of language, or words and how they are used and controlled offers considerable insight into the non-science-fiction reality we currently inhabit. It is also of note how those words and notions are so often internalized. (I’d been fighting to keep the weight down ever since my last pregnancy.) It seems the norm, sadly, for those in power to want to silence those who object, whatever their gender. Colin Kaepernick knows, and I remember well the cries of Vietnam war supporters who regarded opposition as treason. America, love it or leave it!
Image from Yomyomf.com
Dalcher offers examples of how language denigrates women in common parlance, without getting all, you know, hormonal about it. Jean’s husband refers to her outings with friends as “hen parties.” Her son, Steven, sees an activist on television protesting the demise of freedom and suggests “She needs to pop a chill pill.” Familiar, no? The religious nuts running this show incorporate anti-gay bias into their new world order as well, making what they consider aberrant behavior a criminal act. (stifling half the population would not be considered aberrant here) Back in the real world, as of 2014 there were still 17 states in which laws against certain sorts of sex by consenting adults were still on the books, so this is not even a small stretch. The chastity movement in the book is based on real-world insanity as well. There was
…a late 19th-century/early 20th-century movement in America called the Cult of Domesticity, “The idea was to go back to Biblical roles, to separate men and women,” [Dalcher] says, explaining that women were expected to conform in four ways; piety, purity, submission and domesticity. She adds that there is a modern version of the Cult of Domesticity active in the US right now; the True Woman movement, part of a larger religious campaign called Revive Our Hearts. - From the Bookseller interviewVox is very much in line with the current boom in feminist dystopia novels and with those of the past as well. What pops to mind are The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, wonderfully realized in the Hulu series, Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God, Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke, and, of course, Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives. There are plenty more, but these are the ones I have read.
image from Wikimedia
Dalcher brings to her novel a background in science. She is a theoretical linguist, with a strong concern with how language affects development. What would women become after a few generations of bearing the yoke of silence? Is it ok to train your daughters to become, essentially, pets that double as sexual vessels? Dalcher’s love of things Italian is given a voice here, as Jean’s parents are living in Italy, where Jean has spent considerable time, and a major character is Italian.
The story moves along at a nice pace, making this a pretty fast read. It is engaging and stress-inducing, in a good way. But I found the resolution even more unlikely than the underlying notion. If tight plotting is your thing, you will probably be disappointed. But then this is not, IMHO, about the action-adventure element, as entertaining as that is. It is a warning about the cost of silence, and how not speaking up now can shut you up later, to the detriment, not only of yourself, but of generations to come.
Image from HappyGeek.com
Before the craziness becomes implemented policy, Jean is warned by her erstwhile bff, a prescient activist, about the coming madness, particularly the massive importance of voting, and participating in political action like calling one’s representatives, or showing up for marches. ”Think about what you need to do to stay free,” she says. It’s good advice.
Use your words.
Review posted – June 1 ,2018
Publication – August 21, 2018
Berkley provided an advance review copy, but shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, Instagram, and FB pages
Other work by the author
-----The Things I Learned About Swans
There are scads more on her site
-----May 11, 2018 - Bookseller
-----from Time magazine
-----Language Log – on the truth about the difference between how many words men and women speak per day - An Invented Statistic Returns
Okay sorry but this was just bad.
The premise is really intriguing and I would love to read about it in a BETTER book.
I expected a good dystopian set up that deals with sexism.. What I got is a weird thriller that KIND OF addressed that topic. I don't even really know how to explain it.
First of all, the "showdown" was way too fast and there was little to no build up at all. It was unrealistic and everything was solved way too easily. I didn't even really understand what was going on because it was so quick and all over the place?
The characters were boring and completely flat. This definitely should be a book that goes into depth with the feelings and thoughts of its characters, but it failed big time.
But what annoyed me the most was the more or less subtle sexism towards men. Hey, I totally understand that one would start to despise the other gender if it was the reason why you're being oppressed and not allowed to talk or work.
But that wasn't really the case here. It were more things like "he's not a real man because he wouldn't beat up someone for spitting on his car" or "All boys like to blow things up" Wtf? Imagine a man would say "Oh you're not a real woman because you don't wear makeup" or "All girls like to play with dolls" EVERYONE WOULD LOSE THEIR SHIT. Which is something they should do, because it's bullshit but don't do the exact same thing to the opposite gender then! Double standards are really stupid. Seriously. Please stop.
PS: Someone pointed out to me that in the end A MAN comes and saves the day. How weird is that in a book that's about feminism and empowerment of women?
I have decided to add a disclaimer to my review. The review in it's entirely is below in the spoiler tag. Here are my reasons for the disclaimer:
- I knew that this would be controversial as it touches on a hot button topic. But, responses have become uncomfortable to the point I cringe when I open Goodreads. I know, I know, what did I expect sharing a controversial opinion on social media!? Yeah, I admit I guess I should have seen that coming. But, this review simply shares my opinion on a topic I felt was key to the story. Many people agree, many people don't. That is fine! All opinions welcome! I just don't want to fight about it because I have no desire to change anyone's opinion.
- I have received negative feedback from both sides of my argument! That's right, I picked a hot button topic and managed to annoy people on both sides (that is pretty impressive). I have been told that I missed the point, I am dense, I have lost respect from people, I think I am better than others, etc. I have been unfriended and unfollowed by many. That was 100% not my intention and I want it to stop. In fact, the point of my opinion is that discussions on this topic drives people apart and causes people to hate each other. So, the fact that my review is only promoting negative behavior (in some cases) is sad to me. 🙁
- I am okay with all the 5 star reviews of this book. I am glad many people had a better experience with it than I did. I do not go to the 5 star reviews and try to prove them wrong. Goodreads is all about differing opinions and I embrace that.
-You may notice that this review has lots of comments. If you have a criticism of my review, it most likely been discussed ad nauseum so I encourage you to look through the comments first. "That I missed the point", "The book did not say 'All' people of a certain group", "Don't you understand what the political climate is in America right now?", etc. - all have been covered.
- At one point in my review I make a bold statement using the number 99%, after the response I have received from both sides, that number is probably more like 75%
So, feel free to read the review. I am not trying to change anyone's mind. I am just trying to express my opinion as thoroughly as possible, and if you don't agree that is fine. The point of my review is to help stop hate, hurt, and bias, so I do not want my review to contribute to that in any way.
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.
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
With Vox by Christina Dalcher being compared heavily to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale I decided that in order to do an accurate review I needed to push myself to actually read The Handmaid’s Tale all the way through before picking up this title. I know many have loved Atwood’s take on a dystopian future in which women were treated as property but had tried it before and didn’t care for the style. My second attempt did nothing to improve my feelings however and I was left with a rather unfavorable opinion which I’ll admit did worry me still having to read Vox.
After sitting down with Vox it became immediately apparent to me that my feelings were going to be drastically different with this title. The very first thing I noticed was the writing style flowed a lot easier than Atwood’s had and with that it made immersing myself into Dalcher’s world a lot easier of a transition than I’d experienced with Atwood’s world. The stories are similar in the generalist of comparisons but Dalcher has brought the idea into this era in time to make it easier to relate to.
Vox opens introducing readers to Dr. Jean McClellan who has been downgraded from her status as a leading doctor in her field of study to nothing more than a housewife cooking and cleaning and caring for her four children. With flashbacks into the past readers are given a look at how this world could have possibly come about where women are closely monitored and punished if they dare to speak more than 100 words a day. With a husband and three sons you easily see the comparison to how males are treated to how Jean and her young daughter are treated.
Writing styles aside between these two books Vox still wins hands down as my favorite for giving a reader the hows and whys to the world peppered throughout the story. Atwood’s title left me frustrated and annoyed with every turn of the page because it felt like the shock factor of the story was supposed to entertain me enough that I wouldn’t want to know why women didn’t fight back or how it came to be at all. As Vox goes on it really felt as if the author gave voice to the little questions that would plague me all the while weaving a tale that captured my attention and gained my sympathy to the character. And then when finished I will just say the outcome was also a lot more satisfying this time around too leaving me to rate Vox at 4.5 stars. I’d definitely say give this one a chance whether you actually were a fan of the original or only a fan of the concept.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/