“The females in Dalcher’s electrifying debut are permitted to speak just 100 words a day—and that’s especially difficult for the novel’s protagonist, Jean, a neurolinguist. A futurist thriller that feels uncomfortably plausible.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

In Christina Dalcher’s terrifyingly amazing début novel, a new government has come to power and half of the American population have been silenced. Women have lost their rights, their freedom, and most significantly their voices. Forced to wear a word counter on their wrists, women and even little girls are limited to only 100 words a day – if they dare to exceed this, they received an electric shock.

In the time of the #MeToo and #Time’sUp campaigns, this brilliantly feminist book shows us just how important it is to use our voices and speak up when we can. This book not only tackles women’s rights but is intersectional in its feminist values, looking at other marginalized groups such as people of colour and LGBTQIA+ communities – who, in this book, along with the women, have seen a reduction in their rights, in different but similarly restricting ways.

Dalcher not only highlights the importance of speaking up and using your all-important voice, but also the importance of voting and supporting issues you believe to be important – otherwise you will never be heard. The author also reminds the reader that unless we learn from history we are, as the saying goes, doomed to repeat it when she references the line “we were just following orders” that has been so often used following events such as the Holocaust.

What’s more, she gives a subtle nod to other dystopian literature referring to Big Brother and Room 101 from Orwell’s 1984. A sentence that says, “blessed be the loophole” also makes me think of The Handmaid’s Tale (but this may just be because my mind often says “Blessed be the fruit loops” instead of “Blessed be the fruit” when reading or watching The Handmaid’s Tale) Whether this was Dalcher’s intention on not, Vox has still been likened by many to Atwood’s dystopian tale with women no longer being viewed as people but silent servants for the home.

This novel is a fast-paced and shocking read that will have you gripped from start to finish, following Dr. Jean McClellan as she fights for her freedom and her voice – as well as that of every other woman in America including her daughter.

In the book’s final words, the acknowledgements, Dalcher states that she wants readers to get angry about important issues and to think, which is exactly what this provocative novel makes you do. The author’s clever plot, full of twists and turns, is intriguing while the thought-provoking themes will leave your mind running long after you finish the book.

This is certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year and even the blurb is cleverly only 100 words – showing just how little the limit really is:

“We will not be silenced. Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand vaults 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.

[100 word limit reached.]”

 

Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 5th February 2019

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Catherine Muxworthy