STAFF PICK: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Post by Miranda Winter-Sayle

Title: Vox
Author: Christina Dalcher
Narrator: Julia Whelan

Imagine you could only speak 100 words a day. How do you determine the importance of every word? This is the decision that Dr. Jean McClellan and all female citizens of the United States must make every day, in the world of this debut novel.

Vox, by Christina Dalcher, is a precautionary tale of a possible future for the United States. Women are not allowed to speak more than 100 words a day – a law that is upheld by bracelets that emit an electric shock that grows worse with every word spoken above the limit. Women are not permitted to have jobs, read, or travel outside the United States.

(I reached the end of my own 100 words in the middle of the previous sentence. Of course, in the society in Vox, I would not be permitted to write this review at all.)

Dr. Jean McClellan is a cognitive linguist who was researching the reversal of brain damage that caused a person’s inability to speak. Her research abruptly ended when religious extremists took over the United States and the subsequent introduction of patriarchal laws forbid women’s participation in society. But when the president’s brother is injured, she is given a choice: regain her voice and continue her research to save one of the men responsible this new world, or refuse and face implicit consequences – in silence.

As a fan of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I was incredibly excited to listen to Vox — and it did not disappoint. The premise is well-executed and the world that Dalcher creates is terrifyingly believable. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, Vox’s dystopia is in its early days, which allows the audience to witness the before and the after of the new world. The description of the evolution of modern day society into this universe was easily my favorite part of the novel.

Julia Whelan is a narrator I’ve heard before and she never fails to disappoint. Her tone perfectly reflects the anger that Dr. McClellan feels through the duration of the novel. She captures the somber tone of the novel expertly.

Vox was included on many most-anticipated summer releases lists, and now I understand why: its timely subject matter and original storytelling make it a compelling listen, and one I would definitely recommend.

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