Vox is another feminist dystopian novel in a sea of recent books with similar themes--all playing on both the political climate and the resurgence in popularity of The Handmaid's Tale. Vox, however, feels more plausible than most. Set in the present or a near-future America in which the far-right has taken control of government and the country is under heavy influence of religious zealots, women's rights are quickly and systematically stripped. First go the positions of power, then the right to work at all, then the right to make decisions (including, of course, reproductive) and pursue meaningful education, and finally, the right to speak and communicate. All women and girls are fitted with wrist counters that administer electric shocks if they speak over 100 words per day.
Dr. Jean McClellan is a neurolinguist who has been living under these restrictions for a year when she is called upon by the President to find a cure for the brain injury that took his brother's power of speech. She (and her daughter) are temporarily relieved of their trackers and she sees an opportunity to infiltrate the new regime and restore women's voices.
What makes this book so scarily prescient--more-so than many dystopias--is the familiarity of it all. These new restrictions on women are mere additions to the daily trappings of life--grocery shopping, work (for men) and bills, home maintenance, kids and school and homework. There hasn't been a environmental or technological disaster, just a political shift that feels just a step or two removed from where we are now--and therefore well within the realm of plausibility. Vox isn't subtle, and while it's a thrilling, fast-paced story (this was a rare half-day read for me) that also serves as a cautionary tale, it's main call is to use our voices to protect our rights--or risk losing both voice and rights altogether.
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Set in a United States in which 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 one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
This is just the beginning…not the end.