Vox by Christina Dalcher was an airport purchase and an easy read.
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.
My thoughts (as always, spoilers may abound):
This book is Atwood-lite. The most interesting aspect of the story for me was around Stephen (the main character’s teenage son) and his education and re-education. When he gets on board with the new regime, his arguments for being “Pure” – though to the reader wrong and wholly without compassion – sound rational while letting him feel important and superior. Of course this would be appealing to a teenage boy. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating to read him mimicking the doctrine he’s been fed, but it’s also very believable. His journey to broaden his mind and consider that he had been wrong also feels honest, if rushed.
Otherwise, I found the potential message of “treat everyone with kindness and respect” was mostly lost beneath a message of “don’t forget to vote” and “beware the people who use religion to make policy” and “pay attention to the eroding of your rights” and, uncomfortably, “most men are either hateful or weak.” I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt on that last one and say it was not the author’s but the protagonist’s opinion. Jean’s position is understandable in her restricted life, but narrow and simplified like Stephen’s views. And though we do get examples of varying types of “good” men by book’s end, I’m not sure Jean grows to notice the variety.
Anyway, pretty good novel, rushed ending, distinct characters, emotionally charged, worth a read.