Book Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher
ashley | The premise of Vox by Christina Dalcher was terrifying and I knew I had to read it the moment I laid eyes on the cover. What would once seem like a creative other worldly idea is scarily realistic these days and I was really excited to see where this story went. I had high hopes from the get go.
This book made me mad. Much like The Handmaids Tale made me mad. Much like the news headlines every morning make me mad. And scared. We’re thrust into the aftermath of a changed America, where women have limited words per day and are reduced to traditional housewives, for the greater good. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What I found most interesting in this story was the relationships; between mother and daughter, both wordless. Between mother and sons, those who just barely understand and those who support the new America. Between husband and wife, a husband who stands idly by and watches passively. These relationships were all very interesting to me and the way Jean navigated her daily life intermingling with each dynamic was interesting as well.
The first part of the book was really strong and you can tell it was building towards something. It was a really long build, though, and it was almost like the book spent too much time climbing and didn’t leave enough room for the climax to play out because the last part of the book was kind of a mess. It was rushed and convoluted and conveniently put all the characters in the same place to save their world, but it also didn’t really take the moment to bask in the saving of the world. In fact, the details of what happened were almost glossed over before we were stuck with the pretty bow on top tying everything together way too nicely. This was a downfall for me. I would have enjoyed the book much more if the pacing were more consistent throughout and I didn’t climb and climb for almost no payoff.
There was one other thing I want to comment on that rubbed me the wrong way. It’s a bit more controversial of a comment than I like to include in reviews, but I thought it was necessary. While I think the messaging in this book is very real and very cautionary, I think the book kind of points a strong finger in one direction, putting the blame of this dystopian ruin on religion, specifically Christianity. I’m not very religious, if anything my thoughts and feelings skew away from religion, but I think that blatantly putting the blame directly in the hands of a religion in this book is dangerous.
I’m not saying it isn’t part of the problem, and what Dalcher built here is a foundation for that blame to fit, but I think if you want to tie this tale into our reality, that the problem and the danger expands much beyond religion and the movers and shakers who have the power to make something like this an unimaginable reality, won’t just be from one specific religion or background or belief. If we’re going to make comparisons to our real-life climate, which of course we are, how can you not, I just wish that the book hadn’t been so bold as to pinpoint the specific villain in this and had of left it a little more open ended. Maybe that’s censoring something, maybe that’s cowardly, but I really think it leaves a bit of a stain on an otherwise well-crafted story, especially since the whole mention of religion was nearly non-existent in the last half of the book.
Having read a lot of dystopian fiction, and a lot of books with similar themes, I didn’t see anything new here, other than the concept of silence itself, nothing really kept me on my toes and there were even some stereotypical details that were expected and anticipated. But I did enjoy it for the most part and even though it ended too quickly and was a it of a mess, I still think people should read this and no one, I repeat no one, can stop me from saying so.
august 21, 2018