Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

My friends bought Vox for me as part of my birthday present – they know that the way to my heart is books. I don’t normally write reviews for specific books but I think Vox is a very important read, particularly because of the current political and social climate, and I really want to draw as many people’s attention to it (and the problems it discusses) as possible.

*Whilst I want to review Vox, I’m also very conscious of how annoying spoilers are – so if you are yet to read this masterpiece (and I really recommend you do!) I won’t be giving any hints of what happens.*

ELLE’s quote on the cover – “a petrifying reimagining of The Handmaid’s Tale” – perfectly encapsulates the essence of Vox, and I thought it was similar in parts to Alderman’s The Power too. There are many parallels, most notably the subjugation of women, although the methods of subversion differ – in The Handmaid’s Tale, women are oppressed through sexuality, split from their families and placed into a warped theocracy; in Vox, women are essentially absent from all roles in life, as their speech is limited to 100 words per day. As I was reading, I felt as though I was reading The Handmaid’s Tale set nowadays – and it’s scary that the research used to control people in Vox is well-understood by scientists today, meaning theoretically the events aren’t that far outside the realm of possibility. Whilst it may seem somewhat unlikely, the thing is: it’s possible. Science has become so advanced that whole populations can be controlled by it.

The President in Vox is comparable to Trump, in my opinion – manipulative, selfish and interested merely in acting for his own gain. Further, like The Handmaid’s Tale, Vox is set in the USA, a supposedly democratic, equal society – the main events are in Washington DC, showing how corrupt our authoritative institutions are perhaps. I’m afraid to say it, but such an outcome really isn’t that implausible – look at Trump’s segregation and his fear-mongering, and how his (and other Republicans’) ideologies have shattered the relative peace and stability of America. Dystopian novels might not be dystopian for that much longer – before long, it could be reality.

The aspect of Vox I liked the most was that despite its warning, Dalcher also implores us to act against these evil leaders and influences. By literally taking away women’s voices, she highlights the importance of speaking up before it’s too late. Of course, maybe Vox is an extreme situation – in reality, our voices might never be literally taken away – but equally, we should speak up against oppression before our voices mean nothing.

I think everyone needs to read Vox. It’s such an important book, so so resonant in our society, and whilst it is a dystopian novel it’s also not too far from reality. Whilst direct action is sometimes tricky, Dalcher warns us about simply letting things slide. Even those who aren’t affected firsthand by the loss of voice in Vox should be protesting, acting against the President, instead of just succumbing – and that’s the same with our society. Even when something isn’t having a direct impact on you, stand up for what is right.