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Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published August 21, 2018

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About the author

Christina Dalcher

21 books1,398 followers
Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specialized in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and taught at universities in the United States, England, and the United Arab Emirates.
Her short stories and flash fiction appear in over one hundred journals worldwide. Recognitions include first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Award as well as nominations for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions.
Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency represents Dalcher’s novels.
After spending several years abroad, most recently in Sri Lanka, Dalcher and her husband now split their time between the American South and Andalucia, Spain.
Her debut novel, VOX, was published in August 2018 by Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and has been translated into twenty languages.
Dalcher’s second novel, MASTER CLASS, will be out in the spring of 2020.

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Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,839 followers
September 30, 2018
I have decided to add a disclaimer to my review. The review in it's entirely is below in the spoiler tag. Here are my reasons for the disclaimer:

- I knew that this would be controversial as it touches on a hot button topic. But, responses have become uncomfortable to the point I cringe when I open Goodreads. I know, I know, what did I expect sharing a controversial opinion on social media!? Yeah, I admit I guess I should have seen that coming. But, this review simply shares my opinion on a topic I felt was key to the story. Many people agree, many people don't. That is fine! All opinions welcome! I just don't want to fight about it because I have no desire to change anyone's opinion.
- I have received negative feedback from both sides of my argument! That's right, I picked a hot button topic and managed to annoy people on both sides (that is pretty impressive). I have been told that I missed the point, I am dense, I have lost respect from people, I think I am better than others, etc. I have been unfriended and unfollowed by many. That was 100% not my intention and I want it to stop. In fact, the point of my opinion is that discussions on this topic drives people apart and causes people to hate each other. So, the fact that my review is only promoting negative behavior (in some cases) is sad to me. 🙁
- I am okay with all the 5 star reviews of this book. I am glad many people had a better experience with it than I did. I do not go to the 5 star reviews and try to prove them wrong. Goodreads is all about differing opinions and I embrace that.
-You may notice that this review has lots of comments. If you have a criticism of my review, it most likely been discussed ad nauseum so I encourage you to look through the comments first. "That I missed the point", "The book did not say 'All' people of a certain group", "Don't you understand what the political climate is in America right now?", etc. - all have been covered.
- At one point in my review I make a bold statement using the number 99%, after the response I have received from both sides, that number is probably more like 75%

So, feel free to read the review. I am not trying to change anyone's mind. I am just trying to express my opinion as thoroughly as possible, and if you don't agree that is fine. The point of my review is to help stop hate, hurt, and bias, so I do not want my review to contribute to that in any way.

Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews896 followers
August 29, 2019
Ohh, this was bad. Terribly, terribly disappointing.

The premise is incredibly intriguing and I would love to read about it in a BETTER book.

I expected a good dystopian set up that deals with sexism.. What I got is a weird "thriller" that KIND OF addressed that topic. At least it pretended to.

First of all, the "showdown" was way too fast and there was little to no build up at all. It was unrealistic and everything was solved way too easily. I didn't even really understand what was going on most of the time because it was so quick and all over the place.

The characters were boring and completely flat. This definitely should've been a book that goes into depth with the feelings and thoughts of its characters, but it failed big time.

But what annoyed me the most was the (more or less) subtle sexism towards men. Hey, I totally understand that one would start to despise the other gender if it was the reason for why you're being oppressed and not allowed to talk or work.
But that wasn't the case here. It were more things like "he's not a real man because he wouldn't beat up someone for spitting on his car" or "All boys like to blow things up" Wtf? Imagine a man would say "Oh you're not a real woman because you don't wear makeup" or "All girls like to play with dolls" EVERYONE WOULD LOSE THEIR SHIT. Which is something they should do, because it's bullshit!! but don't do the exact same thing to the opposite gender then? Double standards are really stupid. Seriously. Please stop.

*spoiler ahead*

PS: Someone pointed out to me that in the end A MAN comes and saves the day. How weird is that in a book with this topic?
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 10, 2020
"Honestly, Jacko. You're getting hysterical about it."

Her words flew at me like poisoned arrows. "Well, someone needs to be hysterical around here."

I am absolutely blown away. My heart and soul are just dangling by a thread. Honestly, I have not been this angered (and wonderfully angered) in a long, long time.
Think about what you need to do to stay free.
Denial, deliberation and the decisive moment: three response stages to any impending disaster. Rush through the first two and act as soon as you can. That's how you hold out. That's how you live.

Dr. Jean McClellan, an American linguistic scientist and mother of four, saw all the signs - women representation decreasing in the government, the resurgence of the "pure" religion, the slow chipping away at female freedoms - yet she did nothing.
"You have no idea ladies. No goddamned idea. We're on a slippery slide to prehistory girls. Think about it...Think about words like 'spousal permission' and 'paternal consent.' Think about waking up one morning and finding you don't have a voice in anything."
No matter how much her friends warned and pleaded with her, she always found a way to deny their concerns - surely not America, surely the government wouldn't go that far, somebody will definitely do something before it's too late...right?

Then, she found herself without a voice at all.

Courtesy of the "Pure" religious movement - all women were fitted with a little "bracelet" which functioned as a word counter. Every day they received 100 words and severe consequences followed every infraction.

Jean, as linguistic specialist, knows better than anyone what will happen if a child is denied language or an adult is forced to stifle all forms of communication. But without a voice for herself, how can she even begin?

I read every last word in a single sitting. If you thought the The Handmaid's Tale was great - you need to check out this modern upheaval.

This is the kind of book where you literally feel the tension - my heart was pounding, my eyes blurred, I turned the pages so fast that I felt a slight breeze.
"You know babe, sometimes I wonder if it was better when you didn't talk."
Shivers. Oh the many shivers.

With many, many thanks to Berkley Publishing and the Christina Dalcher for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publishing.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,296 reviews120k followers
July 21, 2022
Maybe this is how it happened in Germany with the Nazis, in Bosnia, with the Serbs, in Rwanda with the Hutus. I’ve often wondered about that, how kids can turn into monsters, how they can learn that killing is right and oppression is just, how in one single generation the world can change on its axis into a place that is unrecognizable. Easily, I think, and push out of my chair.
Words matter.

If your ideal of womanhood tends toward the Stepford-ish, Vox will present an image of paradise. For the rest of us, it offers a dark vision of a possible future in which the lines between religion of the extremist, fundamentalist sort, and government are not just blurred, but erased. (See Taliban, ISIS, or any of many Christian sects that insist that civil law should be based on the Bible, or, recently, SCOTUS) God knows there are plenty of places in the USA where a large number of folks would be just fine with that, as long as it is the proper religion. Well, probably not the majority of the women. Instead of the saying “Children should be seen but not heard,” substitute females of almost any age for children, and you have the core of this dystopian novel.

Christina Dalcher - image is from her site

Woody Allen’s 1971 film, Bananas, satirized Central American (and American) politics. A deranged leader had let power go to his head and decided to shake things up.
From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.
There are different lunatics in charge in Vox, but the restrictions are just as insane, if much less amusing. Females are allowed only one hundred words per day. (The official language of American women is silence?) And they will have to wear wrist-band counters that keep track. Exceeding the daily quota results in a painful electrical shock. Run off at the mouth and the punishment becomes deadly. Girls at school are given rewards for speaking the fewest words in a day.

Image from HuffPo

Jean McLellan is a cognitive linguist. She is as shocked as most are by the imposition of outrageous strictures on her, and on all females. Makes it tough not only to do the work for which she was trained, (or, maybe not, as women have been relegated to homemaking, so don’t worry your pretty little head about that whole job thing) but makes it a challenge even to carry on normal human conversations within her family. Her husband, Patrick, is the science advisor to the president, surely a jokey position in a country where science is silenced and faith of a certain sort is given all the bullhorns. But then Jean is approached by representatives of El Presidente. Her professional services are required. It seems the dear leader’s brother had an oopsy while skiing and now has a particularly nasty brain injury, one that impacts his ability to use language. Jean negotiates a deal, and goes to work. Complications ensue, not least is the presence on the research team of the incompetent rectum who stepped up to leadership when the women were kicked out, and someone from her past. Will they be able to use their scientific super powers for the forces of good, or be bested by the forces of evil?

Image from MissMuslim.com

Yes, it is not a realistic projection of things to come. If millions of women marched in response to the election of Swamp Thing, I seriously doubt that a program like the one presented here would have been instituted as quickly as this one was, or at all. (well, in most states, anyway) The response would, I expect, have been less Lysistrata and more Wonder Woman, with maybe a dose of Medea tossed in. Despite the excesses of the Trump administration, there are limits beyond which people actually would respond, and actively resist. But the point of the novel is not, clearly, to present a real potential future, but to highlight the importance of speech, of language in personal and political freedom, particularly for women.

Image from Betanews.com

These are notions that merit consideration. Schools in Vox are made to offer AP Religious Studies classes that not only crowd out class time for Biology and History, but omit the comparative element of the study of religions in favor of promoting the religious track favored by those in charge. So, propaganda. This is hardly a huge leap from school systems that insist on teaching that lovely oxymoron, creation science, alongside actual, reality-based, testable science, and pretending equivalence. Similar to the approach of some news providers who seem to think that balance consists of offering equal time to truth-tellers and liars. Linguistics. Language. Call bullshit a rose often enough and weak-minded people will begin to enjoy the scent. (Fake news?) We live in a NewSpeakian world, so looking at the power of language, or words and how they are used and controlled offers considerable insight into the non-science-fiction reality we currently inhabit. It is also of note how those words and notions are so often internalized. (I’d been fighting to keep the weight down ever since my last pregnancy.) It seems the norm, sadly, for those in power to want to silence those who object, whatever their gender. Colin Kaepernick knows, and I remember well the cries of Vietnam war supporters who regarded opposition to that debacle as treason. America, love it or leave it!

Image from Yomyomf.com

Dalcher offers examples of how language denigrates women in common parlance, without getting all, you know, hormonal about it. Jean’s husband refers to her outings with friends as “hen parties.” Her son, Steven, sees an activist on television protesting the demise of freedom and suggests “She needs to pop a chill pill.” Familiar, no? The religious nuts running this show incorporate anti-gay bias into their new world order as well, making what they consider aberrant behavior a criminal act. (stifling half the population would not be considered aberrant here) Back in the real world, as of 2014 there were still 17 states in which laws against certain sorts of sex by consenting adults were still on the books, so this is not even a small stretch. The chastity movement in the book is based on real-world insanity as well. There was
…a late 19th-century/early 20th-century movement in America called the Cult of Domesticity, “The idea was to go back to Biblical roles, to separate men and women,” [Dalcher] says, explaining that women were expected to conform in four ways; piety, purity, submission and domesticity. She adds that there is a modern version of the Cult of Domesticity active in the US right now; the True Woman movement, part of a larger religious campaign called Revive Our Hearts. - From the Bookseller interview
Vox is very much in line with the current boom in feminist dystopia novels and with those of the past as well. What pops to mind are The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, wonderfully realized in the Hulu series, Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God, Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke, and, of course, Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives. There are plenty more, but these are the ones I have read.

image from Wikimedia

Dalcher brings to her novel a background in science. She is a theoretical linguist, with a strong concern with how language affects development. What would women become after a few generations of bearing the yoke of silence? Is it ok to train your daughters to become, essentially, pets that double as sexual vessels? Dalcher’s love of things Italian is given a voice here, as Jean’s parents are living in Italy, where Jean has spent considerable time, and a major character is Italian.

The story moves along at a nice pace, making this a pretty fast read. It is engaging and stress-inducing, in a good way. But I found the resolution even more unlikely than the underlying notion. If tight plotting is your thing, you will probably be disappointed. But then this is not, IMHO, about the action-adventure element, as entertaining as that is. It is a warning about the cost of silence, and how not speaking up now can shut you up later, to the detriment, not only of yourself, but of generations to come.

Image from HappyGeek.com

Before the craziness becomes implemented policy, Jean is warned by her erstwhile bff, a prescient activist, about the coming madness, particularly the massive importance of voting, and participating in political action like calling one’s representatives, or showing up for marches. ”Think about what you need to do to stay free,” she says. It’s good advice.

Use your words.

Review first posted – June 1 ,2018

Publication – August 21, 2018

Berkley provided an advance review copy, but shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, Instagram, and FB pages

Other work by the author
-----The Things I Learned About Swans
-----Company Man
There are scads more on her site

-----May 11, 2018 - Bookseller

-----from Time magazine

-----Language Log – on the truth about the difference between how many words men and women speak per day - An Invented Statistic Returns
Profile Image for Deanna .
665 reviews12.4k followers
August 28, 2018
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

As soon as I read the description for this novel, I knew it was a book I HAD to read.

I’m often running to Google for one thing or another when I’m reading a thought-provoking book. But this time, I was Googling things before I even had the novel in hand. The first thing I had to know was how many words the average person speaks in a day. Google told me:

The average woman speaks 20,000 words a day. The average man speaks 7,000 words a day.


Imagine that you are only allowed to speak 100 words in a day...

In VOX people in the United States are given a 100 word per day limit. But NOT everyone is given this limit....just the female population. They wear a counter on their wrist to keep track of how many words they speak. If they go over the 100 word limit…they pay a painful price. What happens if people try to communicate in other ways such as writing things down or using sign language? Well, let’s just say it’s not something they want to find out.

Words shouted out in passion, in anger, in a child's nightmare – IT ALL COUNTS!!

They are kept a prisoner in their own country. Some people fled to places like Canada, Mexico in the beginning, but now there's no escaping.

Dr. Jean McClellan is/was a cognitive linguist but now…

“I’ve become a woman of few words”

Jean's husband, Patrick reminds her with a tap on her counter that she only has a few words left for the day. The counter will reset at midnight. Her husband and sons have to remember to ask close-ended questions to Jean and her daughter, six-year-old, Sonia. Her sons are eleven and they have seen what happens if more words are spoken. There are times where she’s irrationally angry at her husband and sons.

“I don’t hate them. I tell myself I don’t hate them. But sometimes I do”

When Jean attended university her friend, Jackie tried to warn them. She told them to think about words like ‘spousal permission’ and ‘paternal consent.’ Think about waking up one morning and finding you don’t have a voice in anything.”

But now THEY need Jean's help, her expertise. At first, she tells them she won’t help them, but then they make her another offer….one she doesn’t know if she can refuse.

Will Jean help those who are responsible for the position she’s in? The position ALL women and girls are in?

I FLEW through this novel. Although it made me incredibly angry at times, I was hooked. Some things I would find over the top one minute and terrifyingly possible the next.

A fascinating storyline with well-developed characters and an ending that I didn’t see coming.

In my opinion, "Vox" is a thought-provoking, excellent read.

I'd like to thank Berkley Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Tammy.
512 reviews431 followers
January 14, 2019
These days my country consists of states united in hate. At its helm is a man-child. A bully consumed by power, lacking intellect, as well as being morally and ethically deficient. So while the premise of Vox is extreme it doesn’t seem far-fetched. The severe subjugation of women by the angry, white, extremist Christian patriarchy is portrayed at its most monstrous. A counter worn by women allows them to speak when spoken to and then only minimally. Once the allotted one hundred words per day are spent, negative reinforcement is administered to the offending female in the form of a painful shock. Other than these few words, women are not allowed any other form of communication: no email, snail mail, books, pens, or internet access. And, nonverbal communication is not permitted which is monitored by surveillance cameras. The gay community is relegated to working farms (concentration camps), a teenage son is indoctrinated into the tenets of male supremacy and a six year old daughter’s words vanish. This dystopian novel deftly handles politics of all stripes; gender, sexual, domestic and, to a lesser degree, racial and international. Gone are the days of inclusion, tolerance and attempts at harmony. Oh wait! We’re sort of there, aren’t we?
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,077 reviews373 followers
August 21, 2018
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi dystopian eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

So I seem to be in the minority again.  This book irked me.  The premise is that a misogynistic bunch of males has taken over the government and women have become second class citizens.  Restrictions include, but are not limited to- no jobs, no financial control, no access to books, no passports, and no real use of language.  It's the last limitation that made me want to read this book.

The statistic in the blurb claims that the is that the average person currently speaks 16,000 words a day.  In this book the woman can only speak 100 words a day.  To enforce this quota, all women are equipped with sensors around their wrists.  Go over the limit and ye get an electric shock.  And it isn't mild.  With every misbehavior, the force and duration of the punishments only increase.

The concepts behind limited women's speech were fascinating.  In particular the relationship between the main character, Jean, and her youngest child, a girl, was the most poignant part of the novel.  The consequences for a generation of girls brought up without the skills of reading and the outlet of speaking were harrowing.

But unfortunately the expression of the novel's concepts and the impact of its message were completely filtered down by the awkward execution of this novel.  Some of the problems:

- unlikable protagonist - Jean is supposed to be smart and intelligent.  She holds a PhD and was about to make a major achievement in treating the problems of language malfunction in stroke patients.  And yet throughout the book she was whiny, unfocused, clueless, and meek.  It made sense for the beginning of the novel but she never really became a strong force.

- unrealistic and unneeded plot elements - So much of this book felt unreal.  Subplots about animal testing that were unnecessary.  Brand-new drugs working the first and only time on a human subject.  Multiple characters important to Jean that happen to be conveniently in a cell and rescued at a critical moment.  No cameras or recording devices in any place that seems rational.  Escalation of a bio-terrorist threat that literally makes NO SENSE and would hurt the bad people just as much as the others.   

- too tied to current events - This book seemed to bash the reader over the head with it's lack of subtlety.  I am extremely liberal and yet this book seemed to be a political soapbox for hatred of the current regime.  I feel it would have had more force if set in slightly more distant future.

- the muddled message - The theme seems to be a call for women to be active in politics.  And yet it lambastes any woman who doesn't follow a certain type of political activism.  It doesn't even seem to want women to have individuality of their own.  Fie on any woman who wants to be a stay-at-home mom.  Fie on any woman who doesn't attend political rallies and march the streets.  Fie on any woman that is a Christian.  I do believe that all people should vote.  But this seems to suggest if ye aren't a rabid fanatic about yer politics then ye are useless.  I get that a passive approach to horrible behavior can allow that behavior to flourish.  Think the Nazis.  But there are many different types of activism and legitimate lifestyles.

- the lackluster ending - What a crock.  For a book to be about women power, a man is needed to bring down the regime.  Then the main character runs to another country and doesn't even stay to help mitigate and direct the consequences of her actions.  She is basically a coward through and through.  She is always being selfish and really never cared about the greater good.

It's been compared to the Handmaid's Tale.  Skip this one and read that one instead.  This book was a muddled mess  and therefore must walk the plank!  The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic for a reason.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Berkley Publishing Group!

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for  Teodora .
307 reviews1,645 followers
May 20, 2023
3.35/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I have a developed sense or rightfulness so when there is something that steps on the basic laws of universal right I grow a pair of horns and some sharp claws and start raging on.

An anti-women future you say? A future where the white man can have all the power he wants and the rest must, but must, comply or else? Oh my God yes, sign me up for this shit, I’m about to lose my mind.

Even though Vox is a well-written and smart book, it was too outrageous and at times, it made me roll my eyes (while reading it in public transport) so hard that I thought they were going to roll back in my head and stay there forever. I hated this sexist shit so much, but I still read the book. I was somehow waiting for something bomb to happen and everything to come back to at least a minimum of normal. And I think that’s what powered me to get through those miserable parts.


This is kind of a controversial book with a controversial topic and I will try to stay away from that as much as I can because I am not here to do politics or to play God. I am here to pour on electronic paper my thoughts and feelings about the books I read and annoy the hell out of you with my long rant (hehe).

Christina Dalcher created a not-so-hard-to-believe future, where the United States goes cuckoo and starts oppressing women as well as everyone who had a different point of view when it came to religion or sexuality.

Women in all the country wore some sort of torturing devices like bracelets on their wrists (as well as young girls, no matter the age) that only allowed them to speak one hundred words per day. Say more and you’ll get a shock (literally).

“You can’t protest what you don’t see coming.”

I felt like this was a bit forced, but even so, I couldn’t help but shiver at the thought of such a world. A world where you have no rights; where you have no words to express; where your voice is taken away from you; where you have nothing to do but go brainless and blind because of someone’s idea of purity and egocentric desire to dominate. To be listened to. To be feared.

I have nothing against men. I have nothing against church and religion. I have nothing against one’s beliefs. But I do have something against chronically sick maniacs who feel the need to share their twisted fantasies and fetishes with the world.

I have something to say about this: folks, it doesn’t work like that. You cannot force people into submission endlessly. You cannot make them part of things they don’t want to be part of. People aren’t made to be cancelled.

“Everything lately seems to be a choice between degrees of hate.”

Jean is a woman who now, when everything went to hell around her, wants to fight. Fight against the system, fight against the purists and brain-washers, fight against her new status, fight against her own husband. Even though the latter one isn’t that necessary, she still does it.

Jean’s husband, Patrick, is a good and loving husband, but he’s weak. He doesn’t possess that kind of virility Jean needs in her life. He complies. He’s a coward. That’s why Jean starts loving him less and less every day. That’s why she chooses another man to protect her. To stand for her. Someone who, like her, is not afraid to speak his mind. To fight for normalcy.
Not approving of the whole having an affair kind of thing though.

I love the creepy medical path this whole book drives towards. I find medical stuff quite paralysing so this tickled my fascination.

This book was terrifying. And disturbing. And outrageous. And it wasn’t easy for me to read it because at times it felt absurd. But I truly appreciate its idea. Its very core. It was kind of a fascinating read for me. Gripping sometimes. So, of course, I disliked it because of its very essence. But of course, I liked it because of that very same essence.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
November 6, 2018
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best science fiction 2018! what will happen?

What do they study now, our girls? A bit of addition and subtraction, telling time, making change. Counting, of course. They would learn counting first. All the way up to one hundred.

as a thought-piece, i would give this a high four stars, but as a novel, it’s got some structural flaws. it would be a very good book club choice, however - plenty of food for thought and discussion. it just needs some conceptual tightening; it’s missing that extra spark that would bring it all up into “amazing debut” territory.

the basic premise is straightforward: it’s a near-future dystopia in which white christian conservative male fundies have come to power and figured out how to keep all of us hysterical, mouthy women down - a metal “word counter” shackled around the female wrist that delivers an electric shock, of increasing intensity, for every word spoken that exceeds a woman’s daily allotment of 100. along with that, all typical dysto-rules apply: homosexuals are imprisoned until they come around and choose heterosexuality, premarital and extramarital sex has heavy consequences (for women), women aren’t allowed to read or write or work or use birth control or even collect the mail from their own mailboxes, and cameras are everywhere making sure these rules are followed.

this book is two things - it’s a cautionary tale about noninvolvement/nonparticipation, about ignoring the signs and the trends until it’s too late, and it’s also an author with a doctorate in theoretical linguistics having herself a “what if” party about excising language from 1/2 of the population.

it’s telling the story it wants to tell, and that’s not the story of “how this happens.” that’s touched upon, sure, it’s not altogether absent, but it’s not a priority. this takes place about a year after the laws go into effect, and things have happened quickly. there are lots of questions left unanswered because again - the hows and the details are not the concern here. i’m not sure what rules apply to deaf women, but i know that hearing women are not allowed to use any sign language to supplement their daily word-allotment. i’m also not sure what is determining or tabulating these word counts - at one point, the main character has one word left in her quota, and she speaks it to her daughter, “Goodnight,” which i would have counted as two words. and what about hyphenates? acronyms? there must be workarounds. but those are my concerns and what i would address if i were writing this book, but i am too lazy so i don’t get to bitch about an author not answering every question i have as a reader.

what i found most interesting was the effect upon the children. (former) cognitive linguist/wife/mother/first person narrator jean mclellan has four children: eleven-year-old twin boys, a son about to graduate from high school, and a six-year-old daughter. the twins are barely present, but the youngest and oldest are better-developed, in how they respond to these regulations, how they are changed. it’s very effective and horrifying to see a little girl adjust and apply herself enthusiastically to the rules, as though it were a game, and to see a young man embrace his role of privileged enforcer.

the weaknesses are mostly in the conflict resolutions. many of them are overcome too easily, too neatly. personal ones, like what i will call ‘patrick’s acquiescence’ and scientific ones like what i will call, ummm ‘look at the science i did just now.’ oh, and ‘final face-off,’ too. the blocking on that is still a bit muddled to me.

it’s a solid debut definitely worth reading, it’s just not a big shiny five-star MUST READ!

an interesting aside - although this was written before the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale aired, there are more than a few details that pop up in both. neither of them make the future look super-rosy. for anyone.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
October 17, 2018
This is one of those books that's just blah for me. The very definition of mediocre, from the storyline to the characters and beyond. There's really nothing that stands out, at least not in a positive way.

The author has somehow managed to take a unique plot line with limitless potential and turned it into a Christian and male bashing rant of epic proportions (full disclosure: I am not a Christian nor am I a man.)

The plot revolves around a dystopian future where U.S. women are only allowed to speak 100 words per day or face the consequences of the Christian Reich.

Dr. Jean McClellan is among these women.

Jean is a perpetually indecisive victim of her own circumstances. She hates her husband. She hates her son. There's really nothing relatable or sympathetic about her character.

I could go on and on about the lack of character development but more importantly is the utter lack of development of the plot itself. There is no lead up to, and even less explanation for, how women found themselves living this nightmare. Other than a few references to a president that sounds strangely familiar, we're left with virtually no backstory.

Overall this book is devoid of the tension and emotion that is mandatory for a dystopian book.

2 Stars because I was able to suffer through until the end.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
October 2, 2018
a quick google search will show that women speak an average of 20,000 words per day. so imagine if you were limited to only 100.

pretty unfathomable thought, right? that is exactly why i love dystopian novels. they are the most effective at taking me outside of my bubble, placing me in an unfamiliar situation and making me really think, ‘what would i do if this was me?’ this book raises so many important and relevant questions in regards to female rights and equality, the role of religion in government, and the right to speech/language development. the premise and core themes of this book are extremely thought-provoking. as a thought piece, this book deserves all the stars.

but as a novel, i cant give this more than three. the writing in this is very clinical and straightforward. dalcher doesnt write like an author, she writes like a scientist. which isnt surprising considering her profession as a linguistics researcher. that sure came in handy as the majority of the plot focuses on the main characters job as a linguistics researcher (write what you know, eh?). but i couldnt find any sort of flow, character development, fleshing out of plot ideas, no sort of voice or depth. everything felt very two-dimensional, very surface level. i mean, the ideas were there (and they were fantastic ideas) but the execution left much to be desired.

i would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a dystopian book that will plant a little seed of thought into their brain, but just dont expect too much from this in regards to storytelling.

3 stars
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
532 reviews34.5k followers
July 7, 2019
”Patrick never seemed to mind my weekly escapes, although he’d joke about us sometimes, before there wasn’t anything left to joke about. We were, in his words, the voices that couldn’t be hushed.
Well. So much for the infallibility of Patrick.”

I went into this knowing full well that the injustice that happens in this book would make me more than just a little angry, but in fact Christina Dalcher’s book made me so furious that I decided to steer clear of the dystopian science fiction genre for a while. As it seems I just can’t stomach fictional worlds like the one in this book and I don’t know if that makes me a sissy or just a very compassionate human being. *lol* I’d like to believe I’m the latter one but I’m the first one to admit that I’ve an extremely thin skin when it comes to wrongfulness.

Well, I guess there are worse things than a wish for justice and an allergy to its counterpart, right? Still, the injustice wasn’t the only topic that rubbed me the wrong way and it’s due to those many other issues that I couldn’t give the book more than 3 stars. Maybe I’m just not made for the dystopian genre but the way those stories are told always feels slightly detached. At least to me it does. I should have screamed and felt with the MC and part of me did when I read what happened to Jean and how her boys (especially Steven) treated her, but despite the injustice that got me boiling I still didn’t feel all too connected to the MC.

”You think I should garden and cook more? You think the work I do is less important than – I don’t know – crafts?”
“Not you, Mom. Other women. The ones who just wanna get out of the house and have some kind of identity.”

So you might say that I got angry because of the books circumstances but not because of Jean? Does that make sense? *lol* Anyway if we’re already talking about things I had issues with, I might as well mention that I was unhappy about the use of religion to justify what happened. Sure, you might say that people did (and still do) a lot of wrong things in the name of religion and to use it as a tool in order to create a dystopian world is nothing new. Agreed: In fact it’s been done so often that I can’t read it anymore. I heard voices that said Dalcher is dragging Christianity in the mud and I heard voices that said it was a well-developed plot device… As for me? Honest answer?

I’m just tired of authors using religion as a tool in order to paint a picture of their dystopian world. I read 3 dystopian books this year and all of them had a religious motive. No matter if it was “Station Eleven”, “The Power” or “Vox” they all used it and I’m probably the only person who’s not happy with that. *lol* I guess I just want diversity and unique ideas in my dystopians as well? *shrugs*

”Of course, there aren’t any two-mommy or two-daddy families anymore; the children of same-sex partnerships have all been moved to live with their closest male relative – an uncle, a grandfather, an older brother – until the biological parent remarries in the proper way.”

Sooo, did I already mention how angry and furious this book made me? Yes? Then let’s move on. I think the worst thing about Jean’s situation was the fact that she had only hundred words to raise her children and that her boys as well as her husband seemed to be okay with that. Of course they were, imagine how lovely your life could be if your mother had no way to reprimand you. Gosh, I don’t even want to think about it! *lol*

As the mom of a little rascal I know exactly what I’m talking about and believe me, if I had only a 100 words my kid would do what it wants and cause havoc all day! XD You need to talk with your kids, it’s very important and with restricting women to only 100 words it’s a wonder their world still worked. >_<

”It’s a life choice, Mom,” Steven said. “If you can choose one sexuality, you can just as easily choose another. That’s all they’re trying to do.”

Urgh, do I even have to mention how wrong this sentence is? I really didn’t like Steven and even though he was just a kid I still think that he did a lot of horrible and bad things. Poor Jean. =( As for the plot, I believe the idea was a good one but for me it lacked finesse in the execution. There were so many things that made no sense and left me with even more questions and the way the ending was resolved was so convenient that I couldn’t help myself and actually said: “What?! That’s it?” when I finished the final page.

To me it feels like there went a lot of energy into explaining the circumstances and the way life felt like for the MC and the other women in the book, but there was hardly any effort put into explaining how the men lived. What they did, if they were okay with their women being silenced. If they struggled with this change too.

Throughout the entire book we just get one side of the coin and I still ask myself the question: Why did they even decide that the words of women should be counted? To make them docile and obedient? Is that really the only motive? I have no clue where Dalcher wanted to go with this book, what the government actually planned to do or where the plot was supposed to head and this left me even more confused.

I’m sure some of you who read the book will say: "Why? It’s so logical!" And if you are one of those people please feel free to enlighten me in the comments! I’d really appreciate some input there because for me it made no sense how it all ended. Especially the “cure and elicitor” aspect at the end of the book! What for?! Only women or men as well? Why take such drastic measures? I’ve the same feeling I had after finishing the TV series “Lost”: I don’t understand the ending. *lol*


“Vox” had some good ideas and they certainly brought a breath of fresh air to the dystopian genre, the longer I read the more I got confused though. The plot was thin and had quite some weaknesses I couldn’t overlook and the ending… well let’s just say it was way too convenient to be true.

Don’t let my review keep you from reading it though! Maybe you’re one of the people who get it and if you do, I genuinely hope you’ll explain it to me! *lol* ;-P


It’s about time to read another book that made it on my "Book List 2019" and even though I already know that this one is going to upset me I still want to read it.

The mere idea of women not being allowed to speak is gruesome and I don’t even want to imagine that a world like that might actually be possible. The idea and the plot sound intriguing though, so I can’t help but wonder what Christina Dalcher made of it.

Still, I can already tell that the injustice that’s going to happen in this book will make me super angry. *lol* Urgh, why did I want to read this again?

Anyway, prepare for salty comments and venomous curses in my updates! XD
Don’t say I didn’t warn you! ;-P
Profile Image for Baba.
3,563 reviews863 followers
October 21, 2022
Believe the hype! Dalcher's debut novel, is a deserved bestseller - the scene, as many now know is a near future America were a political-religious alliance in the White House has suppressed woman to the extent that they are forced to wear bracelets that limit them to 100 spoken words a day or they'll get successively bigger electric shocks. In this thought provoking (and warning to the present?) reality is this story told.

Yes the ending is a bit rushed and there's too many coincidences and limited supporting character development BUT this is a five-star premise; a five-star main protagonist characterisation; and most of all a cracking good story... which is what I'm here for. A weak Five Star, 10 out of 12 from me :) A must-read for everyone. It's a book of the moment and the constructed reality itself would make a fine, very fine multi-season TV show, methinks.

2019 read
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books912 followers
September 22, 2018
This novel depicts a chilling dystopia, or as Mike Pence might call it: a visionary blue print for America. Women are limited to speaking only 100 words per day and “immoral” behavior results in hard labor concentration camps. The author does a great job of setting up the world with thinly veiled references to our current political climate. There is a clear message to receive: if you don’t speak out, someday someone will take away your voice. Either figuratively or literally.

After the initial setup, the story transitions more into a typical race against time thriller. Unfortunately that’s where I also started to lose interest. The premise is fantastic, but the espionage was cheesy and not particularly well written. For one the cast of villains aren’t bombastic enough or interesting enough. There’s an evil minister who goes around punishing people but he felt hokey and his position didn’t always make sense.

Overall: what probably started as a symbolic anti-Trump rant turned into surprisingly effective allegorical fiction. I wish the author had spent more time on the final third of the book, though, because it left a lot to be desired. Still a solid, quick read that kept me turning the pages.
September 9, 2020

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I'm very upset about all the people who read this book and walked away thinking, "Not all Christians! Not all men!" If that was the only thing you took from this admittedly flawed novel, then you are part of the reason that this book was written. I'm not saying that to be mean. I honestly believe that as a fact. History is full of people who have covered their ears when people say things that they don't want to listen to. Look at all the people who continue to furiously support Trump, despite the fact that he's proved time and time again that he is not only a bad politician, but also a bad human being, with his efforts to use his station to alienate our allies and twist the laws for his own personal gain. It's a perversion of both justice and democracy, and yet the people who support him really seem to believe that they have the moral high ground. How does this work? Is it that cognitive dissonance grows stronger as the evidence mounts, because it's easier to believe a lie than that you've made an egregious lapse in moral judgment? I wonder.

With VOX, Christina Dalcher explores a concept that has explored many times: what happens if a bunch of radical extremists seize control of a nation and oppress them with brutal savagery in the name of a greater good? In this regard, it is very similar to THE HANDMAID'S TALE, especially since the victims in both books are largely (but not only ) women. The heroine is a woman named Jean who used to be a neurologist, and now she is a housewife. She feels the rub of her imprisonment every day, from men who actively oppress her (like the president), to men who passively and cowardly support the status quo (like her husband), to men who embrace the new laws in blithe ignorance because it tells them what they want to hear (like her son). I have never wanted to punch as many people as I did while reading this book and actually had to step back for a week because it was making me so upset.

VOX starts out more strongly than it ends (which I'll be getting to later), but the premise is a striking one: Christian fundamentalists have taken control of the country with something called the Pure Movement. Men are the glory of God; and women are the glory of man, subservient and secondary in every way. Those in power have managed to achieve this by affixing counters to every woman's wrist that monitor how many words they speak a day. The limit is 100, less than a Tweet, and speaking more than the limit delivers a painful electric shock that becomes more powerful with every word spoken past the limit, eventually becoming lethal. This seems a little silly, the idea of a word counter that looks like a FitBit. But certain types of men are always trying to silence or discredit women. Just last week, for example, I answered a question about science that someone asked, and one of the men reflexively said, "No, that's wrong!" without even thinking about it, as if it had become habit. Someone at the table looked up the answer, and, of course, I was right. Did this person apologize to me? No. They just shrugged, as if to say, "Well, even a broken clock is right at least twice a day." Look at the proceedings with Kavanaugh, and how everyone rushed to discredit the woman who claimed that he had tried to rape her, and how many disgusting excuses of men literally toasted the successful discrediting of this witness with the "Beers for Brett" or "Bubbly for Brett" hashtag. The universe created in this novel doesn't really feel like such a stretch if you think of how many people in the world long for an idealistic version of the 1950s when women weren't allowed to express themselves or push the boundaries of gender norms, and minorities were kept safely out of sight.

The second half of this novel deals with some interesting science. Interesting in the fact that it does kind of feel like one of those cheesy, less popular Michal Crichton novels, or a Dan Brown novel, in that you find yourself suspending more disbelief than you'd like while also pondering the realism of the literary equivalent of a cackling mad scientist looming against a lightning-strewn backdrop. At the same time, there's a historical precedent of performing unspeakable medical practices against the oppressed, so this isn't as comfortably fantastical as some might like to believe, either. And sometimes, taking the reductio ad absurdum approach works in literature because it forces us to realize that our reality is almost absurd as the satires that are created to rebuke it. What does that say about us, I wonder?

Reading VOX is almost guaranteed to upset the reader, but if you find yourself growing angry at the women - or the author - of the story, you should probably ask yourself why.

3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,373 followers
July 11, 2018

According to my lazy Google search, the average woman speaks around 20,000 words/day. In this frightening precautionary tale, women are restricted to speaking less than 100 words a day. Overage? Painful electrical shocks will be dealt from the Fitbit style wrist counter you're wearing.

The premise is strong and all too real in this alternative reality where women's rights are slowly chipped away by a strong tide of religious fundamentalism until finally, we quite literally lose the language needed to speak up for ourselves.

After the Pure Movement takes hold in political offices nationwide, women lose their rights to hold jobs or bank accounts. Girls are not allowed to study science in school. Females are effectively shut out of society by taking away our words. SHUDDER SHUDDER SHUDDER.

What happens when the country's leading linguist happens to be a woman and is called out of her forced retirement by the President himself? What does he want from Dr. Jean McClellan, a mother of four and our fearless narrator? Well, that my friends is the story.

I desperately wanted to love this book. As VOX begins, I got definite The Handmaid's Tale vibes and I was thrilled with the idea of this timely narrative (#metoo). I had almost too much hope that it would be more powerful or meaningful than it ultimately is.

The execution of the story gets so bogged down with technical, boring details that the whole plot feels, ironically, mansplained. Artemis left that same taste in my mouth.

About 50% into the book, I felt disconnected from the characters and story, and it became a slow-going slog to finish. I really can't offer much explanation for it either. The good news: I seem to be in the minority and if you are intrigued by VOX, I would not dissuade you from going for it.

VOX is initially eye-opening, but for me, it just doesn't sustain the suspense or believability factor.

VOX is scheduled to hit the shelves on August 21, 2018. Thanks to NetGalley for my early copy. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
May 7, 2018
3.5 The Scarlet letter for the near future, but instead of s Puritan society and the red letter A, we have a society where the Christian right has prevailed. Women, even babies are fitted with a leather wristband that limits the words spoken in a day to a hundred. The first time you go over, one receives a small shock, strength of shock is increased with each transgression. 1984, only it is now, cameras are fitted in each house, front door, back door. Books are locked up, only able to be accessed by men. No jobs, home in their new responsibility, duties of a wife and mother. The LGBT community fares even worse. This is the pure movement in the US and no one who transgresses is spared.

I found this chilling because I can actually see this happening, have seen men on TV who I can imagine loving just such a scenario. The importance of language, speech to snow individuals we'll bring, forming personalities. How can you watch your young daughter not able to vocalize, tell you about her day? For Jesn, it is torture, but a situation arises, and unwillingly Jean is temporarily repreived, because the men in charge want something from her. Can she take advantage, make a difference? Well, that is the story, a quick moving one I was fascinated with. History has proven that with the wrong people in charge, anything and everything can happen. Can it happen here?

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,128 reviews30.3k followers
August 20, 2018
4 thought-provoking and brave stars to Vox!

I don’t usually read dystopian books, and to be honest, I’m not that familiar with the genre. Upon reading the premise of Vox, I knew it would have a place on my reading list because of its timeliness and the bravery of the author in taking on this fictional topic.

If you have not heard already, Vox is set in the United States at a time when a new president has been elected, and a mandate has been declared by the government: females may only speak 100 words a day. If they go over their allotment, they will receive an electric shock from a band installed on the arm. In a place founded on freedom, women and girls no longer have theirs.

Since women can no longer talk, they can no longer work. Girls are only taught math in school, and reading and writing is for boys only. The ramifications of this are overarching, and the author does an impeccable job delineating it all.

The main character, Dr. Jean McClellan, is a married mother of four children; however, only one of her children is a girl. How far will Jean go to demand a voice for her and her daughter?

Vox has a strong start. The writing is flawless, and the set-up of the premise feels completely authentic. I was anxious at times wondering if something like could actually happen. The pacing was stronger in the first two-thirds, but I was invested in what was happening, terrifying as it was, so that did not keep me from reading on. The ending was completely satisfying. I could see this as a movie, and I think it is a wonderful choice for book club discussions. Now that I know more about what comprises a dystopian novel, Vox checks all the boxes.

Thank you to Berkley for the physical ARC. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog with my book pics! www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Lucy.
415 reviews612 followers
February 2, 2019

"Be teachers of good things; teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands."

"Woman has no call to the ballot-box, but she has a sphere of her own.... she is the divinely appointed guardian of the home... she should more fully realise that her position as a wife and mother... is the holiest, most responsible; dismiss all ambition for anything higher, as there is nothing else here so high for mortals."

This is the world for women living in America after a newly elected president shakes up the entire culture. This is what has happened to America after an all-right christian fundamentalist group has taken over.

Under the influence of a "pure" movement, women are fitted with "bracelets" that count how many words they speak in a day. Women are allowed a maximum of 100 words a day and are given severe consequences if they speak over this. They are not allowed to read, or to write or to sign. This is a society where women are completely stripped of their rights to work, to speak out, and to their own autonomy. In addition, women who 'fornicate' with men outside of marriage and engage in pre-marital relations are first punished publicly... heads badly shaved, grey smocks and publicly branded as "sluts" and "whores" by those from their communities. These poor women are then sent to convents for hard labour and have their "bracelets" at zero words a day... leaving them completely without a voice.

Dr Jean McClellan is a witness to all of this and experiences the harsh changes to society. She herself, as an expert in neuro-linguistics, knows the importance of language in the development of children's brains. She witnesses how the "pure" movement was slowly introduced into schools, changing the way young people think and behave; she witnesses how her daughter barely speaks anymore in fear of the consequences. She realises this needs to change, but without a voice, where can she begin?

This book teaches the importance of using your voice, women's representation in government and society needing to be noticed, the need for equality across the board, otherwise, if voices aren't used, change can hardly happen. This book offers a stark reality of what might happen without women's voices, without protest or discussion, or without those protesting on women's behalf.... something Dr Jean McClellan faces first hand.

"You have no idea ladies. No goddamned idea. We're on a slippery slide to prehistory girls. Think about it...Think about words like 'spousal permission' and 'paternal consent.' Think about waking up one morning and finding you don't have a voice in anything."

The thing about this book that really got me was the unfairness of it all: concentration camps for those who identify as part of the LGBT+ community; convents for women who speak out or have extra-marital affairs/pre-marital relations (note: these punishments did not extend to men); the cutting of women's placement at universities and the teaching of only basic arithmetic, christian religion (and only the fundamentalist aspect of it) and home economics for girls. The frightening part is how a society is easily brain washed into thinking the "pure" movement is the only truth and there can be no resistance or critique, something Dr Jean McClellan faces when she's afraid her own son might report her.

This novel was a completely compelling and unputdownable novel! It is disturbing and an uncomfortable read and will leave you thinking: What if ? It also questions the reader to evaluate themselves as to how they use their own voice... or if they use it at all.

I'm giving this 3.5 stars as some parts of the plot I found were not developed enough (eg some characters and events in the book) and left those parts feeling rather random and short-lived when you want to know more, or characters reacted in a way that was atypical of certain situations. Also, while I really enjoyed the very scientific parts of the novel (I've done modules on neuroscience, language and cognitive psychology so it was easy for me to follow and relish in this re-learning experience) I can understand why this aspect may not be appealing to others as some parts were very science heavy.

"We are called as women to keep silence and to be under obedience. If we must learn, let us ask our husbands in the closeness of the home, for it is shameful that a woman question God-ordained male leadership."
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,141 reviews1,898 followers
March 28, 2022
Imagine the USA, in the not so distant future, as a place where women have lost their voice. Banned from the workforce, forced to wear “bracelets” which emit a powerful shock, whenever your word count goes over the allowable 100 words a day (and that would include your book reviews!)

This is the USA, that Vox (voice) imagines.

Excerpt “ the clock announces today’s end, and a dull ping on my left wrist gives me another hundred words. What will I do with them?”

I would love to tell you more, but unfortunately this review just reached the 100 word limit.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
September 4, 2018
This one didn't really work for me, but I am giving it one more star than I feel to compensate for my current state of mind - I'm not really feeling into dystopia at the moment, and that isn't this book's fault. I also haven't been able to stomach the second season of The Handmaid's Tale.

It's interesting to me how many people are bailing or rating this low because the bad guys are Christians. I'm seeing a lot of "not all Christians" rhetoric here. But to those people I would say, look around! Where are the Christians in the actual world, while citizens are denied passports, children are separated from their parents (I don't even need a link for that one,) votes of black people are overwhelmingly suppressed compared to other populations and there is a marked increase in hate crime? Oh, that's not your fault, you say? Have you spoken up, have you done anything? See, that's the underlying premise of this novel, the part that I feel is most effective. The main character is a scholar, aware of situations in the news, but not convinced she herself can or should do anything, and by the time she does it's too late. And by then women's voices are literally being taken away. And those who claim to be Christians in power silence those who are in their same group, even if they wouldn't have been radical - they quickly get on board so as not to lose the upper hand. This was far too familiar of a feeling. Being radicalized is not exclusive to one religion. If you're going to pull a #notallchristians, double check your beliefs and actions against verses like James 1:27. "Religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation..." (KJV)

But interesting for an author to generate such a passionate dislike. Another reason to keep this at an okay rating rather than lower. It's obviously causing a reaction.

There is a chilling moment which I can't quote exactly since I had an uncorrected proof, where the comment is made that the final decisions were made about taking voices away WHEN they started marching. Shiver.

The rest of it felt too far-fetched to even work as a dystopian novel. Jean too easily goes back to her work when she is needed, doesn't seem to worry at all about surveillance, and doesn't seem to worry about the power her male children have, even after her son's girlfriend gets TAKEN AWAY for having sex with him. We know from actual history (China, Germany) about children turning in their parents. Even the characters in 1984 by George Orwell were found out through what 1949 minds could conceive about surveillance; how could anyone in the 21st century living under an oppressive regime imagine they could get away with illegal sexual relations and/or revolutionary activity in the very building owned by people in charge? I mean come on. And more disappointingly, that's not really how the characters suffer a downfall, so even if they would have been incredibly stupid to do those things, I would have felt the book was better if they had received consequences aligned with that stupidity... and that stupidity could have easily occurred because of a willful desire to not be living in the society they are in. I would understand that. If I had all my rights taken away and all I could do was speak 100 words a day or even CONSUME 100 words a day, my life as I know it would cease to exist.

So while I engaged with this book as described above, it definitely wasn't what I would have hoped for.

Thanks to the publisher for providing access to the title through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Felice Laverne.
Author 1 book3,204 followers
February 12, 2020
Somewhere along the line, what was known as the Bible Belt, that swath of Southern states where religion ruled, started expanding. It morphed from belt to corset, covering all but the country’s limbs—the democratic utopias of California, New England, the Pacific Northwest, DC, the southern jurisdictions of Texas and Florida—places so far on the blue end of the spectrum they seemed untouchable. But the corset turned into a full bodysuit, eventually reaching all the way to Hawaii. And we never saw it coming.

Christina Dalcher’s Vox is an envisioning of what would transpire if right-wing radicals and fundamentalists were allowed to take over America. Hmmm, what a concept. I won’t point out the obvious climate in which this book was published (oh, wait, I just did) and the commentary on our government that could easily be read into it. Such as—oh, I don’t know—in passages like this one:

At the beginning, a few people managed to get out. Some crossed the border into Canada; others left on boats for Cuba, Mexico, the islands. It didn’t take long for the authorities to set up checkpoints, and the wall separating Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas from Mexico itself had already been built, so the egress stopped fairly quickly. “We can’t have our citizens, our families, our mothers and fathers, fleeing,” the president said in one of his early addresses.

The plot of Vox is simple. Dr. Jean McClellan is one of millions of American women who didn’t get out in time. Who are trapped in America stripped of their jobs, their personal finances and their words. Once at the forefront of her field and on the verge of finding a cure for disease of the brain, she is now reduced to being confined within the four walls of her home, counting her words for the day and making dinner.

“Whose fault do you think it was?” he said. I stood in my kitchen, wanting to explain, careful not to, while he told me we’d marched one too many times, written one too many letters, screamed one too many words. “You women. You need to be taught a lesson.”

What I will say is that when I picked up this book and read the blurb, I thought that an examination of these things told through the eyes of a “vox” would unfold, that the oppression experienced and the country’s direction described would be allowed to evolve and transport the reader to a new place of social scrutiny, even as the plot entertained and even elicited the occasional laugh. But that didn’t really happen in the way that I’d hoped; instead, Vox seemed rather like a bipolar haircut—like a mullet: literary imagery and plot setup in the front, full-on commercial melodrama in the back. It was as if Dalcher started out with a lofty idea but could not sustain it and, instead, resorted the love affairs and gorillas (yes, gorillas) to tell the story instead.

It wasn’t, however, all dreadful. (Okay, maybe that’s a strong word. Lackluster is a more accurate one.) The premise was enticing, the title is arresting, and the cover art is just enough – minimalist in a way that highlights the words snatched from these women. Those things make Dalcher’s Vox a desirable read from the moment you hold it in your hot little hand. There was an unexpected plot twist surrounding one of Dr. Jean McClellan’s sons . What I appreciated most about this novel were those few moments where Dalcher snuck in the truly disturbing and uncomfortable, mostly through moments between Jean and her six-year-old daughter, Sonia. Little girls do have that ability to pull at our heartstrings while simultaneously being the vehicle for the truly sinister moments in social commentary in literature, don’t they? And our little Sonia lived up to that duty in several satisfying moments in Vox.

The ending is a jumbled (hot) mess, a series of unlikely though convenient events. I hate quickly summed-up bow-tie endings that feel rushed, like a six-year-old hurrying to tell mommy all about their day. To me, they are the ultimate cop-out and proof pudding of lack of true skill and finesse as a writer. That must be the literary slant to my mind talking, but I’m okay with that. The Goodreads description of this book made me think Vox would take more time to explore and lay out the events around the breakdown of American society to the point that women become voxes. But it wasn’t that kind of read at all. For the most part, all of the deterioration of American society has already happened at the start of the book (though we do get snippy interior commentary on it from Jean), and we follow her around watching her days as she copes with it. Christina Dalcher’s Vox ended up being a far more commercial read than I thought it would be, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. But I just wasn’t impressed by the execution of the second half of this novel. Better luck next time. 3 stars ***

**I received an advance-read copy of this book from the publisher, Berkley, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**


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Profile Image for Carrie.
3,162 reviews1,519 followers
July 14, 2018
With Vox by Christina Dalcher being compared heavily to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale I decided that in order to do an accurate review I needed to push myself to actually read The Handmaid’s Tale all the way through before picking up this title. I know many have loved Atwood’s take on a dystopian future in which women were treated as property but had tried it before and didn’t care for the style. My second attempt did nothing to improve my feelings however and I was left with a rather unfavorable opinion which I’ll admit did worry me still having to read Vox.

After sitting down with Vox it became immediately apparent to me that my feelings were going to be drastically different with this title. The very first thing I noticed was the writing style flowed a lot easier than Atwood’s had and with that it made immersing myself into Dalcher’s world a lot easier of a transition than I’d experienced with Atwood’s world. The stories are similar in the generalist of comparisons but Dalcher has brought the idea into this era in time to make it easier to relate to.

Vox opens introducing readers to Dr. Jean McClellan who has been downgraded from her status as a leading doctor in her field of study to nothing more than a housewife cooking and cleaning and caring for her four children. With flashbacks into the past readers are given a look at how this world could have possibly come about where women are closely monitored and punished if they dare to speak more than 100 words a day. With a husband and three sons you easily see the comparison to how males are treated to how Jean and her young daughter are treated.

Writing styles aside between these two books Vox still wins hands down as my favorite for giving a reader the hows and whys to the world peppered throughout the story. Atwood’s title left me frustrated and annoyed with every turn of the page because it felt like the shock factor of the story was supposed to entertain me enough that I wouldn’t want to know why women didn’t fight back or how it came to be at all. As Vox goes on it really felt as if the author gave voice to the little questions that would plague me all the while weaving a tale that captured my attention and gained my sympathy to the character. And then when finished I will just say the outcome was also a lot more satisfying this time around too leaving me to rate Vox at 4.5 stars. I’d definitely say give this one a chance whether you actually were a fan of the original or only a fan of the concept.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,621 followers
May 18, 2018
“The average person speaks 16,000 words per day. But what if women were limited to just 100?”
and it's not in Iran, or Arab countries, but in the US itself.

That's the 5 Stars premise of “Vox”

But now I wish to limit some authors to just 100 pages per novel..
May be it's just me who felt the 325 pages novel annoyingly too long..

The idea is really great, but the writing style with overuse of unnecessary medical details, unbelievable coincidences, some flat characters or the lack of feeling them, presenting the Adultery as if it's fine for the main 'mother'... and God, the ending.. And the too much of line and scenes that ends with (expect that didn't happen) or something like this..well, expect it may be just me..

That really made me disappointed..
The story has its scary moment of how men may behave about that, even the closest ones like sons.. even how some women can be so obeying... how dangerous it can be on new generation of girls and women..

Well, I needed this story, this strong crazy serious idea and plot to be in a story that much stronger and faster...but really the plot lacked much specially in the second part.

100 and more Thanks for the Author and Penguin's First to Read program for the advanced read.

Mohammed Arabey
From 6 April 2018
To 9 April 2018
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,419 followers
April 16, 2018
Ah damn. I had such high hopes for this one. The premise/hook is fantastic, and with the second season of The Handmaid's Tale starting at the end of this month it's going to be so easy for marketers to draw parallels to Atwood's classic feminist masterpiece. But Vox *is not* that book. There's some good ideas contained therein, but none of them are really developed, and a lot of the themes just seem too heavy-handed and on the nose. There is no subtlety, no allegory, the author is using an anvil in heeding her warnings painting in big giant billboards -- do you SEE? do you SEE how EASY this could happen?

There's a lot of science/academic techno-jargon in the book that's totally unnecessary too and mires down the action and took me out of the story too many times.

The book did get me to think about how all of humanity might be improved if everyone was limited to a hundred words a day. Because seriously, people are the worst and say the stupidest shittiest things non-stop.

A copy was provided through NetGalley for review.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
January 20, 2019
5 Astounding Stars!

Powerful and Terrifying!

Set in the United States, all women have been silenced. Their lives are completely restricted. We are now only allowed to speak 100 words per day. The limitation is controlled by counter on our wrists that will zap us every time we go over. For each infraction, the penalty is more severe. No one is safe. Except the male gender, that is. We are no longer allowed to read books, use phones (or send text messages) and we are no longer able to work, thus half of the workforce has been cut. It’s part of the “Pure Movement.” To cleanse women of their sins and ensure that women are obedient to God and to all men.

Dr. Jean McClennan was a cognitive linguist in her former life. Now she is a housewife who wears a wrist counter. Obedient to her husband Patrick. She has four children, one of whom is a daughter named Sonia who also wears a wrist counter and who speaks less than anyone. Dr. McClennan vows that someday, somehow, she will fight for her family and especially for her daughter.

“Vox” is an extremely well written dystopian novel with a powerhouse of a premise. Admittedly, it is horribly scary and at times, my heart caught in my throat and was beating so fast, I had to put the book aside and remind myself to breath. Truthfully, I, for one, cannot imagine not being able to speak, send text messages or read! A little known fact about me: I won “Most Talkative” as a Senior Superlative in High School (26.5 years ago mind you).. and texting well.. I don’t talk much nowadays but I do text a lot.. so I’d be zapped like crazy. And reading, well, I can’t bear to think about it.

That said, “Vox” reminded me why I love dystopian novels so much - because they scare me. Some more than others of course - simply because some are so realistic and could actually happen - much more so than a horror story or a mystery. Christina Dalcher you knocked my socks off with this one and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! Thanks for keeping me entertained throughout.

This was a buddy read with Kaceey! So glad we finally got around to reading this.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Berkley Publishing Group and to Christina Dalcher for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on Edelweiss and Goodreads on 1.20.19.
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews334 followers
March 30, 2022
Sometime in the distant future, men lose their minds and decide to Handmaid Tale us women with a twist. We are reduced to 100 speaking words a day. To make sure of this, all women are forced to wear bracelets aka shock collars. No reading, writing, sign language, smoke signals, carrier pigeons. Overlooking the fact, I would be dead on Day 1 of this madness due to electrical pulses from the bracelets, I would love to know how you would teach a three-month-old child to not speak. I mean, picture sitting at the dinner table with your 2-year-old, who is babbling away then suddenly launched across the room from the "shock" of reaching 100 words. I guess it would make for a lively Thanksgiving. Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Recommend!

Blessed Be the Launching Toddlers....
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews33 followers
January 9, 2019
Audiobook....Read by Julia Whelan.

I wasn’t going to read this book! I heard some disturbing words about this novel....
That I took an intentional stand to skip it.....
I seriously had no intention to read it as I say.
But between a conversation about this book with a friend over the phone AND....it was available as a library - Overdrive - audiobook - I downloaded it.

I’ve listen to Julia Whelan read books before - she’s top notch terrific as a voice narrator...[“My Year of Relaxation”, “An Anonymous Girl”, “Educated”, “My Oxford Year”, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”, etc.]....
Julia is great! .....She was perfect for “Vox”, too.

However.....in spite of Julia’s talent -
I don’t have ( now confirmed), a lot of respect for this novel. Blaming Christians for controlling everything is ramped: one dimensional anger - bitterness - and resentment - just got old and annoying.

Tons of stereotyping! Too long! Rushed ridiculous ending!

Read other reviews..... I found ‘parts’ interesting ( dialogues between Jean and her children were interesting for awhile - but soon they, too, just felt like a plot device to rebel in bitterness conversation, and righteousness).

2 stars.... go to Julia Whelan. ( she deserves more stars - but I need to review the book itself.
Shocking hyped story?.......not really! I found it silly and often unkind......
lacking genuine class in the storytelling.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews812 followers
December 23, 2022
My introduction to the fiction of Christina Dalcher is Vox. Published in 2018, this was another novel that was almost nowhere on my reading docket, but I grabbed off the library shelf to pair with Golden State as the second half of a dystopian fiction bill. I was ready to bail on it after 50 pages too due to many of the same factors--derivative story, uncompelling characters, atrocious dialogue, obnoxious prose--but I ended up skimming this one to the end. It reminded me of a grade school recital where the performance is fucking terrible but rather than flee for an exit, you stay seated because your child or some other little one you care about is up there.

The story is the first person account of forty-three year old Dr. Jean McClellan of suburban Maryland. Like all the women in the United States, she's been removed from the labor force, stripped of her civil rights and allotted 100 words a day, which are monitored by a wristband that delivers electric current if girls or women exceed their quota. Sign language is forbidden. Books other than the amended Bible are forbidden. Boys and men can speak or read all they want, of course, though they have little time to given the extra hours required to keep the economy running with a stricken work force.

Jean's husband Patrick is a science advisor to the new president, a young, ultra-right wing boob steered by the televangelist Reverend Carl Corbin. Their sixteen year old son Steven is a Hitler youth type eating two scoops of the theology heaped upon high school boys of a kinder, gentler time where men and women were pure and knew their duties. Their two year old daughter Sonia knows enough words to trigger the wrist monitor she wears but doesn't understand what will happen if she exceeds her quota. Unable to communicate with other women like her political firebrand college friend Jacki, or her husband, Jean dreams of an escape from her domestic purgatory.

Patrick is the third type of man. He's not a believer and he's not a woman-hating asshole, he's just weak. And I'd rather think about men who aren't.

So tonight, when Patrick finally comes to bed, even after he apologizes, I decide to dream of Lorenzo again.

I never know what brings it on, what makes me imagine it's his arm, and not my husband's, curled around my waist during the night. I haven't spoken to Lorenzo since my last day at the university. Well, and that one other time, afterward, which didn't involve an abundance of vocalization.

I wiggle out from the heavy appendage encircling me. It's too much like ownership, that gesture; too possessive. Also, the smoothness of Patrick's skin, his soft doctor's hand and fine hair, they're all getting in the way of my memories, blotting them out.

Lorenzo may have returned to Italy by now. I'm not sure. It's been two months since I followed my heart and libido and went with him. Two months since I risked everything for an afternoon tumble.

Rather than document life during occupation as Margaret Atwood did so chillingly in The Handmaid's Tale, Vox quickly paces into a thriller, in which Reverend Carl offers Jean the chance to go back to work when the president's brother suffers brain trauma and needs to be cured. While I was curious how Jean would expedite herself from her hellish domestic situation, I skimmed the sections where she returns to work and gets involved in political intrigue. The protagonist is obnoxious, trite and makes too many cute pop culture references. She's written more like a nutritionist than a neurosurgeon.

Vox is lazy on detail, whether of the geopolitical variety which isn't that necessary, or the sensory details of how a household or neighborhood would change under the pall of an American theocracy which I felt were necessary. I didn't buy the conceit of the novel at all. "We never thought it could happen here, until 2016 ..." is how the author might respond, but as a reader, I wasn't convinced. A natural disaster, economic depression or plague might possibly turn the country toward a religious state, but as we've seen, a white nationalist stooge despised by half the country isn't nearly enough. I needed more engines failing on the plane and more reason to care when they did.

The domestic scenes bored me, the protagonist's lack of resourcefulness annoyed me and I could see the plot unfolding from far away. The characters are political archetypes more than a real family unit that I cared about. The reason I didn't abandon the book is that Dalcher did plant a small hook in my mouth in her first 50 pages. I could imagine being in an unhappy marriage where i had no voice, no career, no purpose for living beyond my kids and craving an escape. I did want to stick around to see what sort of balloon would take poor Jean away, and for that, the novel receives an extra star. I just wish this situation had been at the service of a well-written novel.
Profile Image for Heather.
295 reviews103 followers
May 10, 2018
Soooo, women of the USA... imagine that the government has decided that you are only allowed 100 words a day. That all the men around you can speak/read/sign ALL THE WORDS they want, but you get 100 in each 24 hour span. Just think about that for awhile.

This book felt all too real to me as a woman. I would like to see the reactions of some men. It had the same frightening realness (for me) that The Handmaid's Tale did, paired with references to recent past and current events. I did not want to put this book down. It was fascinating and - quite frankly - terrifying.

Thank you to Elisha Katz from Berkley Marketing for reaching out to me, offering the book for an honest review. I am so glad you picked my name out of the hat (or whatever other magic got it into my hands). And thank you so much to Christina Dalcher. I hope this book turns into the runaway hit I believe it deserves to be. You have written a very timely story, and I think it might be the prod needed to help some people make the choice to join the movement. #RESIST
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