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VOX by Christina Dalcher

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Speculative Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

‘In a world where women are silenced, would you speak up?’

VOX is a book quite unlike any I have read before because the concept, while appearing far-fetched, is NOT completely beyond the realms of possibility. VOX is a ‘speculative’ dystopian novel set in the United States where women have been forcibly silenced and gender equality is something buried in the past.

Written by Christina Dalcher, VOX is published by HQ Stories and is due for release later this month. It has been described as the ‘book that will blow your mind’ by Prima’s Nina Pottell so I was delighted to get the opportunity to read this high-concept novel…

First things first….I’m Irish and I’m from Cork, the home of The Blarney Stone. Now we all know that kissing The Blarney Stone bestows upon you ‘The Gift of the Gab’ and yes, you’ve guessed it, I sure as hell kissed that stone many, many years back. I talk…a lot. The prospect of not talking or having my words limited is not a concept I can even begin to consider. I have attempted, on a few rare occasions, to not speak as much in family social gatherings and let’s just say it caused a few odd looks with folk thinking something was up with me. So when I read the premise of VOX, let’s just say I was a tad freaked out!

VOX is based on the principle that women are fitted with wrist counters and their daily word allowance is 100…yes that’s all…100!! Speak even one word more than the allotted 100 and your wrist counter will send 1,000 volts through your body. It’s an America of the future. Religious and political leaders spread their word and the gender balance, that has long been fought for, is reversed. Slowly but surely women are not replaced after they retire or move on from positions for whatever reason. Men start to weave more power and the shift, though gradual, is driven by those who believe that the woman’s place is back in the home. The final move is swift and immediate. Women are silenced.

‘You should all be fitted with your new wrist counters. A symbol of your purity and devotion to your family. Life is simpler now. Just 100 words a day. Your role is in the house. Your husband takes care of everything else.’

But they don’t stop there. Bank accounts are frozen and passports are taken away, basically imprisoning women and making them completely dependent on men for survival.

Christina Dalcher wrote VOX as ‘a cautionary tale, a warning call about gender politics and backlash and cultural shift, but also an exploration of how much out humanity, our personhood, is tied to our ability to acquire and use language’.

Imagine if one of these young girl’s who will be part of a new generation of silenced women is your six-year-old daughter? What would you do?

Dr.Jean McClellan is/was a neurolinguist. Her research was recognised throughout the medical world and beyond. On the verge of a great discovery, Jean suddenly finds herself at home with the carpet pulled from under her and everything she stands for. Her husband works for the government so Jean and her family submit to all these new rules and regulations. For Jean this transition to a world where she is no longer really visible proves extremely difficult. Her son is being moulded through education and Jean is sickened to see the changes in his perception of the world, how accepting he is of this new leadership and all that it promotes. But worse for Jean is seeing the impact on her young daughter. The wrist-counter hangs off her daughter’s arm and Jean looks at each day with pain and revulsion at the prospect of what the future holds.

Jean suffers horrendous guilt for not listening to others over the years who could see the changes happening. Jean never truly believed that the US government and church would tolerate such madness. Now looking back Jean realises that she did nothing to help, nothing to stop this insane shift in the gender structure. But circumstances can change and for Jean she is not ready to lie down and roll over, especially when she understands the future plans for women.

VOX is a book that makes you think, really think about our future as a race and how one bizarre idea can infiltrate the thought process of a society and influence the direction of a populace as a whole. VOX is a ‘speculative’ novel. You do have to be prepared to accept that parts of the plot-line will stretch your imagination, and I was, because this is a dystopian book and it is an admonishing tale…a what-if of sorts! What is fact though is how one powerful, irrational and oft-times psychotic individual can cause such destruction and induce such fear because they believe in some singular, grotesque and, in their minds, righteous ideal.

You have been warned….

Thought-provoking. Challenging. Ominous.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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