Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!
Damn it! My boss (number 2 at my agency) recommended this book to me. She was so excited when Amazon dropped it to $1.99 on Monday and ran over and told me so I could get it. I am so going to lie about enjoying this book because I am not dumb enough to tell her how I really feel about it. But I can tell you all. This book started off so strong and then just spiraled into mess. It didn't help that I ended up loathing the protagonist in this one and her constant justifications for shitty things she was doing.The writing got very choppy after a while and I the flow went from pretty okay to just terrible by the end of the book. I also realized I was more invested in secondary characters than I was in the main character.
"Vox" takes place in an unknown time in the United States. In this dystopian hellscape we have an American that has allowed the Christian evangelicals rise up and now their word is law. Stripping power away from women and girls, now women and girls are only allowed 100 words a day under penalty of being shocked if they exceed that amount. Women are no longer allowed to work and are instead supposed to stay home, cook for their family, and be a wonderful helpmate (I almost threw up). In this new America which has the rest of the world going, "I don't know her" to the United States we follow Dr. Jean McClellan. Jean used to be a medical researcher looking into curing aphasia and other neurological disorders. Now she's a stay at home mother who is frightened about what this new world not only means to her, but to her youngest daughter.
Jean is hard to like. I think the biggest issue I had with her is that she seems so clueless to the point of being almost labelled "Too Stupid to Live" at times. Case in point, she takes a very risky chance and steal away with someone. It made me think of Offred in "A Handmaid's Tale" but in that case it made sense to where the book was going and how she got away it. Jean's thing made zero sense and just came out of nowhere. We also have her flip flopping her positions too much. At first she realizes the opportunity she is given can allow her more freedom to speak and her daughter too. And yet she seems to still not really talk at all to her children or husband. It baffled me. I didn't know if it was just a reflex from her having the device on her or what. I was curious about why she didn't talk to her husband about what was obviously going on with their son. Jean mostly remembers her college friend who pointed out the destruction of women's rights in the U.S. and how frustrated with Jean she would be.
I can't say much about anyone else since they are not developed well enough. Jean's oldest son seems to be one way, but then totally shifts and neither Jean or her husband seem to talk to him at all. We have Jean remembering her friend in college and her ex-boyfriend and then having her talk to someone in the present. It was all jammed up after a while. I was fascinated by the mailman Del and his family though. I wanted to read more about them honestly. They seemed ten times more interesting than Del.
The writing starts off quite provocative I thought. The book jumping back to the "present" and to when the religious overtones started becoming more overt in the U.S. with new teachings at Jean's oldest son's school shows how insidious things like this can be, and what happens if you don't pay attention to things around you. After a while though things just don't work. We get reveals thrown at us. For example, we hear about how those who are not heterosexual are forced to convert through manual labor and not being allowed to speak at all. And it's like an aside almost. I don't know how to explain it, it just seems things like that should have been front and centered in the book, but are ignored due to Jean and her work in testing her serum. The flow though got really bad after Jean is given a choice to make and she takes it hoping to use that time to better her and her daughter's life.
To me this book's setting seems to be around 2040 or after. Based on discussions Jean has while in college, I assume she was a student around 2017 or so and then fast forward 20 plus years and I think you have the setting of this book to be around 2040. The idea of a United States slowly overrun by the religious right was definitely believable. It's 2019 now and we have way too many supposed Christian leaders in this country praying over Donald Trump and saying he is President because God willed it. Do I think that they can end up getting a foothold like this and shaping policy? Um yeah, cause they are slowly chipping away at women's rights and as many in the U.S. know many of these religious leaders and other Christians are doing what they can to help overturn Roe Versus Wade.
I don't know about the technology that was created to enforce women and girl's not being able to speak over 100 words though. I was curious about how it was tailored to the person? How do you ensure that other people's words don't pick it up. I started getting creeped out about what if you use up all your words and your husband decides he wants to have sex. Is a head shake enough? Do you have time to write out a yes or no? Things like that should have been delved in more I thought. Instead Dalcher seems too focused on Jean and her "cure" and I got bored reading about her and Lorenzo through 2/3 of this book.
The ending was a letdown to me. I thought that it didn't make a lot of sense and there was a lot of happenstance to have things work out the way they did. I liked more how "The Handmaid's Tale" and even "The Testaments" ended. You can't just put a genie back in the bottle after it's been released.