Author: Christina Dalcher
Summary: 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. 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. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
Note: I don’t usually put so much effort into advertising negative opinions, especially for a book I didn’t finish, but Vox gave me such toxic vibes that I had to try and articulate why.
Vox has a terrific synopsis and a terrible execution. The main character, Jean, is a pretentious (former) linguist who we are supposed to like because a) she’s the main character and b) she’s a woman who’s being oppressed. Instead, we’re forced to judge the other characters, the current political administration (a very thinly veiled take on the 2016 US election), and society through Jean’s smug, self-serving ‘woe is me’ attitude. (The kicker is that Jean was apparently completely blindsided by what happened in the two-plus years before we meet her, calls another woman hysterical for getting upset at those events, and then proceeds to NOT VOTE in the election which led to the current president.)
The plot revolves around the president’s brother needing Jean’s help to reverse brain damage from… something and her initial refusal and then subsequent acceptance. But honestly, who cares. Dalcher has no respect for her characters, her readers, or religion. Jean describes men as believers, “woman-hating assholes,” or “just weak” and can’t comprehend that anyone saddled with a word-counting bracelet could ever buy into the Pure Movement. Of course, Jean’s the only one who’s clear-headed in all of this. Christianity as a whole – and anyone who believes in it – is awful and dangerous.
I DNF’d this hard, but I was curious about the ending and skipped ahead… and SPOILER [it pretty much ends with Jean’s husband making a complete 180 and poisoning the president and his entire cabinet with a serum that gives them aphasia. (And then, conveniently, dying.) Then Jean escapes to Canada with the man with whom she was (and now is) having an affair (and their love child). She reconnects with her former friend (the ‘hysterical’ one). She suddenly feels motherly warmth and can’t imagine leaving the country without all of her children (three of whom she has shown no warmth to in the first third of the book).]
I just… don’t know. I don’t know how people are reading this book and giving it five stars. I don’t know how Dalcher and her editors saw past the judgemental (and at times offensive) writing and characterization to arrive at a published book. Like, am I missing something? Someone please explain what I am missing.
Stopped on page 106/326
TL;DR: Vox reads as if Bret Easton Ellis tried to write The Handmaid’s Tale. 👎