Popsugar Reading Challenge 2020: Book 4

Prompt: A book with only words on the title

Surprisingly, I had a couple of books whose covers could have fitted this prompt. In the end I went with Vox by Christina Dalcher – I have the auk, red and black cover which just features the title.I have quite a few Goodreads friends who have read this and it was also a Bookstagram buddy read, so it has been great to be able to talk to other people about their opinions.

What it’s about:

Set in a parallel present United States, the government has brought in sweeping changes. Women are no longer allowed to work, their bank accounts are frozen and their passports are taken away. Schools are now segrated and girls are no longer taught to read and write.

Women are also punished for talking. Womena dn girls are forced to wear a speech tracking bracelet and are limited to only 100 words a day. Anything over that and you receive an electric shock.

What I think:

I found the premise of this book really interesting, and although extreme, not entirely implausible.

The central character Jean McCellan is intelligent and largely relatable. As a wife, mother and scientist she sees and experiences the changes in society in both a personal and professional way. I did, however, find her relationship with her husband problematic. She doesn’t love or even like him for most of the book, and the flashbacks to the past do not make her reasons for marrying him any clearer.

For me this was a book of two halves.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book a lot. The writer does a fantastic job of creating a realistic world in which the oppression of women has been accepted.

Jean struggles with the changes in her life. Without a professional purpose she is not the ideal homemaker women are now supposed to be. Her concerns for her children and their futures are heartbreakingly real. Her oldest son seems to be fully embracing the changes in his education and the Pure Blue philosophy to the point where he is willing to betray people he loves for the cause.

For me, the most shocking character is Jean’s young daughter Sonya. The reforms have the biggest impact on her and for most of the book her silence is horrifying to read.

The final third of the book, where the pace of the plot speeds up and the action hightens was less successful. I found some of the action hard to follow and had to re-read some of the sections. And was really disappointed by the ending.

I feel like this was a book of unfulfilled potential. The desire to keep it a readable length means the ending is sewn up too quickly and too neatly with seemingly little impact on the characters and society as a whole.

I do think the writer makes a good point about the need for people to become engaged in politics so that they are not left out of the decision making process. Jean regrets her youthful ignorance and ability to ignore issues that did not directly relate to her life. The sense that democracy can become endangered if people optout of politics is very topical.

I imagine this book is going to be devisive among readers, and I’m probably somewhere in the middle.

Grab you own copy of Vox at:

Waterstones: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

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