Initially after finishing Vox I gave it 4 stars straight away. The next morning, after I had time to process it I had to drop it down to 3 1/2 stars and ultimately I think that is because I felt let down here. I still really liked this book, but what I liked more than this book was the idea, the premise and unfortunately when I started to think about it the story just didn’t do it justice they way it could have.
“You know babe, sometimes I wonder if it was better when you didn’t talk.”
If you’ve read the blurb you will know that Vox is set in the USA sometime in the not so distant future where radicalised religious fundamentalists have gained power seemingly while everyone was watching but few were doing anything about it. Once they control the government faced with much protesting by the female population (or maybe that’s just a convenient excuse) they take away their voice, limiting females to 100 words a day, along with most other rights including, not being able to work, travel, own money, property or do essentially anything without a mans permission. Scary!
“I learned that once a plan is in place, everything can happen overnight.”
The beginning of this book is absolutely excellent. Like most great dystopian fiction, Vox is set in a world different enough to seem crazy and futuristic, but created and explained in a way that it makes you uncomfortable with how easily this could become our society. And it’s scary. So freaky. Jean is a great protagonist finally waking up to how complacent she’s been only to realise it’s too late to do anything about it. She’s becoming scared and resentful of her husband and sons, while worried for her daughter who is growing up without words and does not mind, she doesn’t even want to talk… as she doesn’t know any other way. The family dynamic here was excellent and really interesting to read, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
“I don’t hate them. I tell myself I don’t hate them. But sometimes I do”
Half way through the book Jean a former linguistic specialist is brought into the fold on a secret government project that reeks of subterfuge and we go along as Jean and her team work to bring down the system. Parts of this were interesting but it just didn’t have the strength to hold up to this scary world that had been created and ultimately it all seemed to come to a close to quickly and conveniently which I found a shame. There were so many details and unnecessary things and it just dragged and honestly. I guessed the “twist” very early on, making all the clues feel obvious which majorly diminishing the chilling, creepy, scary factor.
One recurring element in the book that I did find probably contributed to my let down feeling was when the main character narrated a scene, only to say “but that didn’t happen” and then went on to tell us what actually happened. This for the most part was confusing. Multiple times I had to go back and read where the ‘made up’ or ‘vision’ scene started to work out what had actually happened versus what Jean had imagined. It just left me annoyed, confused, and probably less receptive to the weakening plot.
This book has been compared a lot to the Handmaid’s Tale and I can see why. There are a lot of similarities including:
- Crazy religious faction takes control
- Women are oppressed
- Patriarchy ensues
The differences however are quite major in terms of style and the sick feeling you get in your stomach.
In The Handmaid’s Tale the dystopian society comes about mainly due to the lack in babies being born and the rising fertility rates. This feels a bit more natural as a cause than in Vox where the change is somewhat linked to the push back of white men who are feeling emasculated by rising equality. Although that is interesting, it was a bit undeveloped for me to believe it could go that far.
The horrors in The Handmaids Tale are also much worse, women are allowed to speak ‘technically’ though are rarely invited too, but cannot read or write. But there is excessive abuse, rape, mutilation etc. that is much more confronting.
On top of all of this is the absolute hopelessness you feel reading The Handmaids Tale is crippling and really gives you a sense of being stuck there with Offred whereas in Vox the action based end of the book leaves you with a much different feeling.
Overall it was a good book, mainly because of the excellent premise, though not as impacting as The Handmaids Tale. Definitely worth the read and very thought provoking and enjoyable.
“Think about waking up one morning and finding you don’t have a voice in anything.”
P.S. Though. Didn’t care much for the whole Lorenzo plot as I really enjoyed the dynamic with Patrick.