HQ Stories 15th August 2018 (Hardback) 7th March 2019 (Paperback)
WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED
Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.
Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.
Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.
For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…
(100 WORD LIMIT REACHED)
Firstly huge thanks to the publisher; HQ Stories for inviting me to be a VOX champion, selected to help spread the word about the VOX paperback.
I must confess Dystopian fiction isn’t really my thing, but VOX had caused quite a stir on social media and I was keen to read it, intrigued by the premise – a world where women are restricted to 100 words per day. And the concept is brilliant, our protagonist Jean lives in a world where the Pure movement crept in, insidiously, unnoticed. Extreme patriachial views became the norm, endorsed by a religious doctrine, a return to ‘traditional family values’ were introduced with a male head of family, the females in a submissive role, obedient to the men and with no views or voices of their own.
Horrifyingly this book felt very authentic, very believable and as such was not a comfortable read. The premise scares me, the idea of these extreme views and how they can creep in. The story was told in the current time where Jean and all females wear a ‘counter’, a bracelet – in my head a bit like a fitbit, only counting words not activity. Jean reminisced to her university days when she was friends with Jackie – a rebel, a revolutionary who foresaw the future in a way most could not. In this way the emergence of the Pure movement was detailed on a then and now timeline.
As I said, the concept of this story is brilliant, in the acknowledgements the author states she wanted to get the reader angry, she wanted to make the reader think and wholeheartedly I can say this book does both of those things. The premise is as expected, Jean and others are unwilling to accept the new way and a rebellion is formed. At times there were issues with the execution of the story for me, I found myself unclear of exactly what was happening, what the author was trying to convey. This wasn’t a major negative because the premise was familiar, I knew the direction the story was going, the specifics were details that occasionally weren’t clear but I understood the gist.
Within the story interesting aspects of this world are highlighted – the impact on relationships when the power imbalance is so skewed, the fear and most notably on society, the loss of skill when half the population are restrained, limited, restricted in this way. And then I remind myself that in some cultures women are limited, not quite so explicitly but through education, through legal frameworks and through cultural and society norms. And I remind myself that in my own society there is an increase in far right and extremist views that are very concerning, and while still on the periphery they are gaining momentum. So for this reason I am recommending this book, as an entertaining and very accessible read, with an alarming premise that hits a little too close to home!
Have you read VOX, what did you think?
About the Author
Christina Dalcher earned her doctorated in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University, specializing in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects. She and her husband split their time between the American South and Naples, Italy. VOX is her debut novel.