Vox by Christina Dalcher
Vox is set in a near-future America where the entire female population are forced to wear wrist bands that limit their speech to one hundred words per day. The consequence of going over that limit? A severe electric shock. The story follows Jean, a woman who still remembers being allowed to talk, read and write and is desperately opposed to this new regime but feels powerless to stop it as she watches her daughter, who has never known any different, accept it unquestioningly and her son be brainwashed by the propaganda. She becomes swept up in a series of events that gives her the opportunity to prevent the next horrendous step the government are about to take, if she has the strength to do so.
I’m a bit of a sucker for stories that seem plausible, where there are just enough links to current events to make you think “Whoa, that could actually happen!”. For me it adds an extra edge to the story and makes it all the more terrifying. A great example of this and one of my favourites is the film version of V for Vendetta.
The main theme of Vox is feminism and all the current movements and marches that have been taking place over the last few years are cited as the catalyst for the backlash from a highly religious group called the ‘Pure Movement’ who believe that a woman’s place is in the home and that they should be seen and not heard. With some clever propaganda and by placing sympathisers within the government they ensured that their cause was heard and enforced. Dalcher’s well-placed allusions to the current president and recent real-life events such as the ‘Me Too’ movement make it all the more plausible. This adds a nice amount of tension to the book as Jean and the group around her fight back in the limited way they can, in a society that is constantly monitored and there is surveillance even within the home. One of the issues in the book is knowing who to place your trust in. Men have a lot more freedom than women in this scenario, but how can you trust them to help you when they are helping the government keep women silenced, even (or maybe especially) by doing nothing.
If you are looking for a book to get you thinking, give this one a go. It certainly had me feeling slightly nervous about the state of our society and the integrity of our government, and I don’t even live in America!
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.