Reading: Vox by Christina Dalcher

A promising idea with an excellent first half of the book, and then she messed it up. The pacing is off in the entire second half, and there are so many unnecessary little things that take away from what could have been a modern-day Handmaid's Tale with an important message.

Reading History

First Read: March 15, 2021 - March 16, 2022
Reading Counter: 1
Rating: 3 - Okay.

Summary & Thoughts

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Religious fanatics follow the whole premise of woman serves man who serves god a little too closely. In this dystopian society, women are only allowed to speak a hundred words per day. They are not allowed to write, read, sign, or communicate in any way. They no longer work, and their sole responsibility is to take care of the home, bear and raise the children, and to serve their husbands.

The setup was done excellently. The pacing was great, and I really enjoyed the story. The protagonist tries her best not to hate the men in her life who let the government take away the rights of women, but the struggle is real. Her oldest son is turning into a fanatic (a so-called pure) and there's nothing she can do to prevent it, even after she gets her words back. Her daughter wins prices for the lowest number of words spoken in a day, and it breaks her heart.

Things got a little more interesting when the protagonist gets asked to join a team to supposedly save the president's brother. She gets her voice back, and even some demands approved, like getting her daughter's voice tracker removed. It quickly becomes clear that she isn't actually working on a cure for the brother, but on a serum to take women's voices away permanently. Instead of curing aphasia, they are supposed to create a water-soluble serum to create it, taking away cohesive speech from anyone who drinks it. It's clear that they want to use this as a bioweapon to get other countries into their grasp as well.

And that's where things get a little chaotic. Her husband turns out to be part of a resistance trying to take down the government, so does her postman. She's also pregnant, and it can only be from her lover, another scientist at the labs. He wants to take her to Italy, but it would mean leaving her children behind. And, also unnecessarily, her mother gets sick with the exact disease the president's brother is supposed to have.

Anyway, they manage to find the cure—or rather it turns out she already had it— and are about to leave the lab. They even manage to smuggle out some of a toxic serum that her husband can use to poison the government at an assembly the next day. Then there's an incident with a monkey that I didn't even understand, and everything turns chaotic.

Everyone, except for her husband, gets out safely. The fanatic lunatics are dealt with. Everyone who was thought to be dead got out and they are all okay. Her lover person takes her and her family to Italy while her friends deal with the aftermath of the whole dystopian disaster.

If the author had left out some of that unnecessary stuff (Did she really need to be pregnant again? Did her mom really need to get sick? And what's with the monkey?), and spent some more care on the second half to get the pacing right, this could have been a great book. The story was there. The idea was great. I even like the idea of using the serum on the guys who try to create it.

And, honestly, I don't think killing her husband was the right choice. A little too convenient that she doesn't even have to choose between her lover and the father of her children. Ah, well.

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand is the writer behind the essays here, author of fiction novels, the creator of the Kate Hildenbrand podcast, and a student of marine ecology. At least, that's her on the surface.