Vox – Review

“It’s the little stuff I miss most: jars of pens and pencils tucked into the corners of every room, notepads wedged in between cookbooks, the dry-erase shopping list on the wall next to the spice cabinet.”

One day, one by one, men went into the homes of every American, and silenced women. A simple device, synced with their voice and locked onto their voice, counts the words they speak. Any more than 100 and suffer the severe consequences.

But limiting their voices isn’t enough. They are removed from the workforce. Passports are revoked. Pens, paper, books, cell phones. Anything and everything that can be used to communicate is destroyed, taken away, restricted. With their voice, women have lost their rights.

Dr. Jean McClennon never thought it would happen. Not in America. There are too many safeguards against this sort of thing. Isn’t there? But she is silenced as effectively as everyone else.

When men from the government come to her home and offer her a temporary relief, she wants to take it. She wants to reject it. Everything comes with a cost, and she has to decide what price she’ll pay. Not just for her freedom, but for her daughters. For women’s everywhere.

“All my words ricochet in my head as I listen, emerge from my throat in a heavy, meaningless sigh. And all I can think about are Jackie’s last words to me.

Think about what you need to do to stay free.”

Vox is the shocking and enthralling debut novel for anyone who read The Handmaid’s Tale and thought, that just didn’t quite go far enough, wasn’t sinister enough, doesn’t feel horrific enough. Vox takes all of the disgust, horror, and unease from that iconic story and raises everything.

But what makes Vox so much worse, is the unsettling feeling that something like this could happen. Dalcher doesn’t rely on plagues, or disease, or global warming to incite this horrific future. Instead she takes what we already see happening. We already see movements like the Purity movement gaining in popularity. We see political extremes and unlikely candidates making their way into the highest offices of our country. We see people who remind us of characters in this novel. Which makes this novel all the more terrifying.

“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creatures of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”

The chilling reality that Dalcher creates for us, is all the more sinister for the realness of it. She describes how her teenage son can become transfixed by the lies of propaganda. How her five year old daughter can fall so easily into the norm of not speaking. How her preteen boys can transition to a life where women don’t speak. How even her husband can adjust and lie to himself about how it isn’t that bad.

These small steps, these minor adjustments and insidious changes show how easy it can be to wake in a world you don’t recognize. Jean looks back and realizes, not voting here, not protesting there. It doesn’t take much until the momentum has built, and your voice is swept away. As you read you want to brush it off, this couldn’t happen, not really. But Dalcher does an incredible job at not letting you disregard that doubt entirely. With every memory of how it began, how it unfolded, you’re reminded that perhaps it isn’t happening, but it could.

“Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. That’s what they say, right?!”

Beyond Jean, all the character have such a satisfying journey. Dalcher does a fantastic job showing the various capabilities of people. Both in their capacity for good and for evil. People aren’t always who we assume they are, and I loved the surprising depth found in several characters. These details, the depth and complexity of the people on the pages, all work together to make Vox feel so incredibly realistic.

From the very first pages I could not put Vox down. I read well into the early morning hours, captivated and horrified in equal measure. Dalcher has created a spectacular book that will enrage you as much as it terrifies you. The bones of our own reality show in the narration, making this horrific reality feel so much closer than is comfortable. It’s a book that doesn’t leave you once the cover is closed. After I finished, I couldn’t help but count the words I spoke, wonder at how often I type, or read, or write.

Vox comes out August 21. If you loved The Handmaid’s Tale, this is the modern version you absolutely have to read. It’s shocking. It’s stunning. It will haunt you. As we see extremes creeping more into not just our country’s politics, but the world’s, understanding the potential consequences of even minor movements becomes vital. Vox reminds us to use our voices before they’re taken away.

Thank you First To Read for the chance to read and review!

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