Dystopias have always been my reading jam, and I’d heard a lot about Vox by Christina Dalcher, including that it was the “next Handmaid’s tale.” I don’t know if I’m willing to give it that stamp of approval, but it was definitely a fascinating read, very science-driven and I like the timeline of the dystopia, something that is new and still evolving instead of set in stone like you see in other dystopias.
In the United States under Vox and President Sam Myers, women have no voice. Well, they have 100 words a day and wear a word tracker that will zap them with electrocution every time they go over that. Women are no longer allowed to work or read or do things that make citizens citizens. The Pure Movement has taken over, led by a creepy guy named Reverand Carl. Gays have been rounded up and sent to internment camps. Adulterous women are sent to camps as well. Non-traditional families have been broken up and reconstituted to fit the “pure” ideal. So meet Jean, a former linguistic researcher with four kids, including a little girl, Sonia, who may never be who she could be because of the Pure Movement. Jean was renown in her field and her husband Patrick is the president’s science advisor. Which means when the government decides they need a cure to aphasia, a breakdown of the language center of the brain, they come to Jean’s door and make her an offer she can’t refuse. The time crunch is on and Jean is thrust back into the world that only two months ago she thought she was losing forever, including former colleagues, a life of words, and government secrets. Because the project is not what it seems and Jean and her family will be tested beyond their wildest dreams. Who can they trust? How much worse can it get? Will their own son betray them all?
I was a little skeptical about this book at first, because it seemed a little too rooted in the anti-Trump political movement, which can make the book seem too timely and not timeless enough, but it eventually surpasses that. The science in this book is kind of confusing, but honestly really interesting and well done for the average audience. The relationships are complicated and I love that your loyalties switch a bit throughout and you never really know who to trust. Something I really loved about this book compared to other dystopias is that it takes place right after the big “break” in society. It’s not Jean realizing ten years later something isn’t right. It’s her fighting back from day one and still remembering what it was like before the big shift. And even though some things felt a little shoved in to make things more tense (no spoilers here but…not absolutely everything has to happen to make you want to change things, ya know?) but overall, I really enjoyed this book, especially after the first sixty or so pages.