[REVIEW] Vox, by Christina Dalcher

(Find it HERE.)

Maybe today isn’t a good day to write about a dystopian novel in which hyper-conservative, racist, sexist ideals permeate the US, resulting in the election of a wannabe despot who encourages horribly oppressive policies necessitating an organized movement of diverse people working together to legitimately reclaim the country despite his last ditch efforts to destroy everything by literally engineering and weaponizing ignorance…⠀

But then again…😈 ⠀

Vox is a dystopian novel in which, as a result of the above-described, women have been denied the right to words–written and spoken. Frankly, it’s a lot like The Handmaid’s Tale, only more contemporary and less religious–there’s even a scene in which a character is reading that book, so the homage is intentional. Once women are removed from public life and limited to 100 words a day under pain of harsh consequences, a former neurobiologist gets the opportunity to infiltrate the administration and restore the gender balance, with the help of her husband and her former research team.⠀

Despite the interesting premise and my love of social justice fiction–I’m really not here for this book. Jean, our main character, is remarkably privileged, remarkably brilliant and so, so dully complicit with the world this book tries to criticize. It doesn’t help that the one Black character speaks in an alien dialect from Planet Stereotype, the one Asian character’s entire personality is “smart”, “tough”, and “tiny”, the one lesbian is Jean’s torch-carrying roommate and when all is said and done, Jean is saved by the men she sleeps with, not her own brains or initiative. I think the aesop of this book is supposed to be “Women, stand up for your rights!”. The actual aesop is “Middle class white women, stay silent until it’s almost too late and then women of color, sexy immigrants, and the white men who pay your bills will save your ass anyway!” ⠀

Sound familiar? ⠀

(Also, what is it with white women in dystopia and hard labor as punishment? It seems as though in every book like this, insurrection is punished by being sent off to a labor camp where our heroine must suffer the indignity of
growing vegetables. I’m not underplaying the seriousness of hard labor camps and the suffering they cause. It’s just that in these books, the labor is so nebulous and mundane. Never mind that in the real world, women are subject to hideous physical punishment, disfigurement, assault, and even death. How dare a body have to cook and clean, right? That’s oppression!)

Maybe it’s the times, maybe it’s just that this book was not written for me. For what it’s worth, the prose is good, it just doesn’t say much.⠀



1 star and a copy of Women, Race and Class to Vox. Bleh.

(Perhaps you can’t tell, but I didn’t love this book, fellow readers. Please look HERE for a collection of speculative fiction–fantasy, dystopia and science fiction–written by women that I found much more equitable and enjoyable. If you want to read Vox, I’d suggest finding it at your local library if they have curbside service–find one HERE. As always, I need to remind you that this blog has affiliate relationships and any clicks and purchases will result in a commission being earned–but reviews and posts are not bought and are entirely my own opinion(in case this review didn’t make that clear). Peace, beautiful people, and thank you for reading!)

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