Vox by Christina DalcherVox by Christina Dalcher

Vox

byChristina Dalcher

Paperback | August 21, 2018

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One of Entertainment Weekly's and SheReads' books to read after The Handmaid's Tale
One of Good Morning America's "Best Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer"

Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.


On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning...

Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.

...not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.Her short stories and flash fiction appear in over one hundred journals worldwide. Recognitions include the Bath Flash Awar...
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Title:VoxFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.96 × 5.93 × 0.88 inPublished:August 21, 2018Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1984802496

ISBN - 13:9781984802491

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from The book is amazing until the last 50 pages Great book! I loved the entire plotline up until the last 50 pages which felt rushed and i found myself wondering, what just happened?? I closed this book feeling puzzled as to what just happened
Date published: 2018-11-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unsatisfied and Disappointed I just finished reading this book and feel a little undecided. I liked the plot and the concept of the book: different, yet believable. Girls and women confined to 100 words a day. Intellectual, accomplished, opinionated woman forced to hold their tongue... to not even write or read. Monitored at every turn of their every day life, women, and girls, face the risk of pain and public humiliation if they do not follow the Pure mantra. While I found the concept of the book interesting, I was not happy with how the last 50, or so, pages were written. The majority of the book was detailed and informative, but yet the ending was rushed and lack lustre. I finished the book feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. Really? That’s it? A quick and easy read, but don’t expect the ending to ‘wow’ you.I just finished reading this book and feel a little undecided. I liked the plot and the concept of the book: different, yet believable. Girls and women confined to 100 words a day. Intellectual, accomplished, opinionated woman forced to hold their tongue... to not even write or read. Monitored at every turn of their every day life, women, and girls, face the risk of pain and public humiliation if they do not follow the Pure mantra. While I found the concept of the book interesting, I was not happy with how the last 50, or so, pages were written. The majority of the book was detailed and informative, but yet the ending was rushed and lack lustre. I finished the book feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. Really? That’s it? A quick and easy read, but don’t expect the ending to ‘wow’ you.
Date published: 2018-11-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expected More From This I was highly anticipating this book since the synopsis sounded so intriguing. However when I really got into the book, it had an odd way of carrying on the plot. It wasn't the fact that it was a tad slow that bothered me; whenever a big realization occurred to the main character, it would be mentioned very briefly and then the story would move on. I would be left feeling confused. Wasn't that part important? How did this happen? I felt like there were some questions unanswered. The ending also felt rushed and sudden. I was also confused at the resolution. I was once again left wondering "what just happened???"
Date published: 2018-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Wow what a great read. Had a hard time putting it down. The whole idea of only having 100 words per day is very intriguing, but also kind of scary. Even though this is fiction, it is scary to think that it could happen. Love how the book ends. #indigoemployee
Date published: 2018-09-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great concept, terribly told This book could have been amazing had they run with the beginning concept of women wearing counters and only being able to speak 100 words per day. Unfortunately I found the remainder of the plot to be completely unnecessary. I had high hopes for this novel as it was so widely reviewed in a positive way.
Date published: 2018-09-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not what I expected An interesting read to say the least.....................bordering on the type of topic that Orwell might have written about. An interesting and somewhat diabolical concept makes it very thought provoking indeed.
Date published: 2018-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What would you say? You’ve read The Handmaids Tale and you're caught up on the last episode of the series. Now what? Here’s one that might fill the bill - Vox by Christina Dalcher. It’s not hard to imagine a future (present or past) where women’s lives are controlled by men. And how is that control achieved in Vox? By language - the lack of, to be precise. In Vox women are only allowed 100 words a day. They wear a silver band on their wrist that shocks them if they go over that limit, increasing in voltage with every word above the limit. It's all part of a return to 'traditional values'. "Pure" Jeanne McClellan was a neurolinguist before her voice was taken away. It is only when the new president needs a cure for his brother that her bracelet is taken off and she’s brought in to resume work on her research - restoring language to brain-damaged individuals. But with every suppression...there's resistance. Vox details a time in the near future that isn't too hard to imagine. I enjoyed Dalcher's world building. And yes, it's not much of a stretch to see the traditional value, male dominated society. Dalcher herself has worked in the linguistics field and that knowledge gave the plot depth and detail. There's lots of action as the tension ramps up to the final 'showdown'. The author has created a good cast of characters in both Jeanne and supporting players. I did find myself more drawn to those supporters though, instead of Jeanne. I didn't agree with some of her decisions or treatment of other resistance members. Some developments and plot directions seemed a bit quick, if you will. There were points where I felt there should be more plausibility built in. But, on reading the publisher's notes, I learned that Vox was written in two months - which is pretty darn amazing. There's lots of food for thought in Vox, mirroring many of today's news headlines. I was thoroughly entertained by Vox and would be curious to see what Dalcher writes next. (And that cover is great isn't it?!)
Date published: 2018-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A required book club read! Vox is set in a near-future where a new political regime has forced all women out of the workforce, removed all individuality and to only speak 100 words each day. The book is the story of the main protagonist, Jean, who at the beginning is just trying to keep her family together, but soon is forced to be an unlikely hero. Fans of Margaret Atwood will enjoy this debut fiction novel by Christina Dalcher -- The author does a great job creating a world not too far off from ours, and she weaves her experience as a linguist throughout the book.
Date published: 2018-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! Thank you Berkley for the advanced copy - all opinions are my own. I blew through this one like a maniac this week, while simultaneously chatting with a friend who was also reading it about how crazy this book is - and how terrifying. The premise of the book is based on a core of religious fanatics who believe the world would be a better place if we could turn back time and have old-school traditional roles of men and women reinstated - more specifically, that women go back to staying in the home and keeping house, raising children and keeping their mouths shut. Christina Dalcher wrote something really incredible with this book - the premise of this isn't based on hysteria or terrorism - it's based on taking a highly controversial position, politicizing it, and then slowly beginning to infect the masses with it, bit by bit, from all angles, while using the media to normalize the process. This is going to be a HIGHLY polarizing book - but is also going to be a great catalyst for conversation about how quickly radicalized politics can spread and take hold. I absolutely loved this - as painful as it was to read sometimes (in a good way), as I just couldn’t imagine being forced into such a constrained life. Everything about this plot is bang on - flawed, human characters who are both trying to do good and making incredible personal mistakes; science-based plot twists that have you both rooting for the characters and biting your fingernails at the possible results; and a "villain" who is as realistic as he is terrifying. I honestly couldn't put this down, I had to know how it all would end. The only thing I would have loved to see slightly different, would have been the ending played out a little longer, with more detail. It felt a tiny bit rushed in the end, with so much build up, I wanted to see every tiny detail of the eruption take place. But this is such a tiny blip, it barely affected my experience. Overall, I adored this - I hope that everyone reads it, and I hope it sparks some honest, thoughtful debate. I cannot wait to share this one with all my bookish friends.
Date published: 2018-08-05

Read from the Book

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2018 Christina DalcherCHAPTER ONEIf anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit Morgan LeBron in a week’s time, I wouldn’t believe them. But I wouldn’t argue. I wouldn’t say a thing.I’ve become a woman of few words.Tonight at supper, before I speak my final syllables of the day, Patrick reaches over and taps the silver-toned device around my left wrist. It’s a light touch, as if he were sharing the pain, or perhaps reminding me to stay quiet until the counter resets itself at midnight. This magic will happen while I sleep, and I’ll begin Tuesday with a virgin slate. My daughter, Sonia’s, counter will do the same.My boys do not wear word counters.Over dinner, they are all engaged in the usual chatter about school.Sonia also attends school, although she never wastes words discussing her days. At supper, between bites of a simple stew I made from memory, Patrick questions her about her progress in home economics, physical fitness, and a new course titled Simple Accounting for Households. Is she obeying the teachers? Will she earn high marks this term? He knows exactly the type of questions to ask: closed-ended, requiring only a nod or a shake of the head.I watch and listen, my nails carving half-moons into the flesh of my palms. Sonia nods when appropriate, wrinkles her nose when my young twins, not understanding the importance of yes/no interrogatives and finite answer sets, ask their sister to tell them what the teachers are like, how the classes are, which subject she likes best. So many open-ended questions. I refuse to think they do understand, that they’re baiting her, teasing out words. But at eleven, they’re old enough to know. And they’ve seen what happens when we overuse words.Sonia’s lips quiver as she looks from one brother to another, the pink of her tongue trembling on the edge of her teeth or the plump of her lower lip, a body part with a mind of its own, undulating. Steven, my eldest, extends a hand and touches his forefinger to her mouth.I could tell them what they want to know: All men at the front of the classrooms now. One-way system. Teachers talk. Students listen. It would cost me sixteen words.I have five left.“How is her vocabulary?” Patrick asks, knocking his chin my way. He rephrases. “Is she learning?”I shrug. By six, Sonia should have an army of ten thousand lexemes, individual troops that assemble and come to attention and obey the orders her small, still-plastic brain issues. Should have, if the three R’s weren’t now reduced to one: simple arithmetic. After all, one day my daughter will be expected to shop and run a household, to be a devoted and dutiful wife. You need math for that, but not spelling. Not literature. Not a voice.“You’re the cognitive linguist,” Patrick says, gathering empty plates, urging Steven to do the same.“Was.”“Are.”In spite of my year of practice, the extra words leak out before I can stop them: “No. I’m. Not.”Patrick watches the counter tick off another three entries. I feel the pressure of each on my pulse like an ominous drum. “That’s enough, Jean,” he says.The boys exchange worried looks, the kind of worry that comes from knowing what occurs if the counter surpasses those three digits. One, zero, zero. This is when I say my last Monday word. To my daughter. The whispered “Goodnight” has barely escaped when Patrick’s eyes meet mine, pleading.I scoop her up and carry her off to bed. She’s heavier now, almost too much girl to be hoisted up, and I need both arms.Sonia smiles at me when I tuck her under the sheets. As usual, there’s no bedtime story, no exploring Dora, no Pooh and Piglet, no Peter Rabbit and his misadventures in Mr. McGregor’s lettuce patch. It’s frightening what she’s grown to accept as normal.I hum her to sleep with a song about mockingbirds and billy goats, the verses still and quiet pictures in my mind’s eye.Patrick watches from the door. His shoulders, once broad and strong, slump in a downward-facing V; his forehead is creased in matching lines. Everything about him seems to be pointing down. CHAPTER TWOIn my bedroom, as on all other nights, I wrap myself in a quilt of invisible words, pretending to read, allowing my eyes to dance over imagined pages of Shakespeare. If I’m feeling fancy, my preferred text might be Dante in his original, static Italian. So little of Dante’s language has changed through the centuries, but tonight I find myself slogging through a forgotten lexicon. I wonder how the Italian women might fare with the new ways if our domestic efforts ever go international.Perhaps they’ll talk more with their hands.But the chances of our sickness moving overseas are slim. Before television became a federalized monopoly, before the counters went on our wrists, I saw newscasts. Al Jazeera, the BBC, Italy’s three RAI networks, and others broadcasted occasional talk shows. Patrick, Steven, and I watched them after the kids were in bed.“Do we have to?” Steven groaned. He was slouched in his usual chair, one hand in a bowl of popcorn, the other texting on his phone.I turned up the volume. “No. We don’t have to. But we can.” Who knew how much longer that would be true? Patrick was already talking about the cable privileges, how they were hanging on a frayed thread. “Not everyone gets this, Steven.” What I didn’t say was, Enjoy it while you can.Except there wasn’t much to enjoy.Every single show was the same. One after another, they laughed at us. Al Jazeera called us “The New Extremism.” I might have smiled if I hadn’t seen the truth in it. Britain’s political pundits shook their heads as if to say, Oh, those daffy Yanks. What are they doing now? The Italian experts, introduced by underdressed and overly made-up sexpots, shouted and pointed and laughed.They laughed at us. They told us we needed to relax before we ended up wearing kerchiefs and long, shapeless skirts. On one of the Italian channels, a bawdy skit showed two men dressed as Puritans engaging in sodomy. Was this really how they saw the United States?I don’t know. I haven’t been back since before Sonia was born, and there’s no chance of going now.Our passports went before our words did.I should clarify: some of our passports went.I found this out through the most mundane of circumstances. In December, I realized Steven’s and the twins’ passports had expired, and I went online to download three renewal applications. Sonia, who’d never had any documentation other than her birth certificate and a booklet of vaccination records, needed a different form.The boys’ renewals were easy, the same as Patrick’s and mine had always been. When I clicked the new passport application link, it took me to a page I hadn’t seen before, a single-line questionnaire: Is the applicant male or female?I glanced over at Sonia, playing with a set of colored blocks on the carpet in my makeshift home office, and checked the box marked female.“Red!” she yelped, looking up at the screen.“Yes, honey,” I said. “Red. Very good. Or?”“Scarlet!”“Even better.”Without prompting, she went on. “Crimson! Cherry!”“You got it, baby. Keep up the good work,” I said, patting her and tossing another set of blocks onto the carpet. “Try the blue ones now.”Back at my computer, I realized Sonia was right the first time. The screen was just red. Red as fucking blood.Please contact us at the number below. Alternatively, you can send us an e-mail at applications.state.gov. Thank you!I tried the number a dozen times before resorting to e-mail, and then I waited a dozen days before receiving a response. Or a sort of response. A week and a half later, the message in my inbox instructed me to visit my local passport application center.“Help you, ma’am?” the clerk said when I showed up with Sonia’s birth certificate.“You can if you do passport applications.” I shoved the paperwork through the slot in the plexiglass screen.The clerk, who looked all of nineteen, snatched it up and told me to wait. “Oh,” he said, scurrying back to the window, “I’ll need your passport for a minute. Just to make a copy.”Sonia’s passport would take a few weeks, I was told. What I was not told was that my passport had been invalidated.I found that out much later. And Sonia never got her passport.At the beginning, a few people managed to get out. Some crossed the border into Canada; others left on boats for Cuba, Mexico, the islands. It didn’t take long for the authorities to set up checkpoints, and the wall separating Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas from Mexico itself had already been built, so the egress stopped fairly quickly.“We can’t have our citizens, our families, our mothers and fathers, fleeing,” the president said in one of his early addresses.I still think we could have made it if it had been only Patrick and me. But with four kids, one who didn’t know enough not to bounce in her car seat and chirp “Canada!” to the border guards—no way.So I’m not feeling fancy tonight, not after thinking about how easily they kept us prisoners in our own country, not after Patrick took me in his arms and told me to try not to dwell on what used to be.Used to.Here’s what used to be: We used to stay up late talking. We used to linger in bed on weekend mornings, putting off chores and reading the Sunday paper. We used to have cocktail parties and dinner parties and summer barbecues when the weather turned. We used to play games—first, spades and bridge; later, when the boys were old enough to tell a six from a five, war and go fish.As for me, on my own, I used to have girlfriends. “Hen parties,” Patrick called my nights out with the girls, but I know he didn’t mean it unkindly. It was just one of those things guys said. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.We used to have book clubs and coffee chats; we debated politics in wine bars, later in basements—our version of reading Lolita in Tehran. Patrick never seemed to mind my weekly escapes, although he’d joke about us sometimes, before there wasn’t anything left to joke about. We were, in his words, the voices that couldn’t be hushed.Well. So much for the infallibility of Patrick.CHAPTER THREEWhen it started, before any of us could see what the future held, there was one woman in particular, one of the louder sorts. Her name was Jackie Juarez.I don’t want to think of Jackie, but all of a sudden, it’s a year and a half ago, not long after the inauguration, and I’m sitting in the den with the kids, hushing their laughter so Sonia doesn’t wake up.The woman on the television is hysterical, Steven points out when he returns to the den with three bowls of ice cream.Hysterical. I hate that word. “What?” I say.“Women are crazy,” he continues. “It’s not like it’s news, Mom. You know that saying about hysterical women and fits of the mother.”“What?” I say again. “Where’d you hear that?”“Learned it in school today. Some dude named Cooke or something.” Steven hands out the dessert. “Crap. One bowl’s smaller. Mom, you want the smaller one or the bigger one?”“Smaller.” I’d been fighting to keep the weight down ever since my last pregnancy.He rolls his eyes.“Yeah. Wait till your metabolism hits forty-something. And when did you start reading Crooke? I didn’t think Description of the Body of Man had made it into must-read high school fodder.” I scoop up the first of what looks like three mouse-sized bites of rocky road. “Even for AP Lit.”“Try AP Religious Studies, Mom,” Steven says. “Anyway, Cooke, Crooke. What’s the diff?”“An r, kiddo.” I turn back to the irate woman on the TV.She’s been on before, ranting about pay inequity and impenetrable glass ceilings, always inserting plugs for her latest book. This one bears the uplifting, doomsday-preaching title of They Will Shut Us Up. Subtitle: What You Need to Know About the Patriarchy and Your Voice. On the cover, a series of dolls—everything from Kewpies to Barbies to Raggedy Anns, stares out in full Technicolor, each doll’s mouth photoshopped with a ball gag.“Creepy,” I say to Patrick.“Over the top, don’t you think?” He looks, a bit too longingly, at my melting ice cream. “You gonna eat that?”I hand him the bowl, not turning from the TV. Something about the ball gags bothers me—even more than a Raggedy Ann with a red ball strapped to her face should bother me. It’s the straps, I think. The black X with the bloodred center crossing out each doll’s face. They look like half-assed veils, obliterating every feature but the eyes. Maybe that’s the point.Jackie Juarez is the author of this and a half dozen other books, all with similarly nails-on-chalkboard titles like Shut Up and Sit Down, Barefoot and Pregnant: What the Religious Right Wants You to Be, and Patrick and Steven’s favorite, The Walking Uterus. The artwork on that one was gruesome.Now she’s screaming at the interviewer, who probably shouldn’t have said “Feminazi.” “You know what you get if you take the feminist out of Feminazi?” Jackie doesn’t wait for an answer. “Nazi. That’s what you get. You like that better?”The interviewer is nonplussed.Jackie ignores him and bores her mascaraed eyes, crazed eyes, into the camera so it seems she’s looking right at me. “You have no idea, ladies. No goddamned idea. We’re on a slippery slide to prehistory, girls. Think about it. Think about where you’ll be—where your daughters will be—when the courts turn back the clock. Think about words like ‘spousal permission’ and ‘paternal consent.’ Think about waking up one morning and finding you don’t have a voice in anything.” She pauses after each of these last few words, her teeth clenched.Patrick kisses me goodnight. “Gotta be up at the butt crack of dawn, babe. Breakfast meeting with the big guy in you know where. ’Night.”“’Night, hon.”“She needs to pop a chill pill,” Steven says, still watching the screen. He’s now got a bag of Doritos on his lap and is crunching his way through them, five at a time, a reminder that adolescence isn’t all bad.“Rocky road and Doritos, kiddo?” I say. “You’ll ruin your face.”“Dessert of champions, Mom. Hey, can we watch something else? This chick is a real downer.”“Sure.” I hand him the remote, and Jackie Juarez goes quiet, only to be replaced by a rerun of Duck Dynasty.“Really, Steve?” I say, watching one bearded, camo-clad mountain man after another wax philosophical on the state of politics.“Yeah. They’re a fucking riot.”“They’re insane. And watch your language.”“It’s just a joke, Mom. Jeez. There aren’t really people like that.”“Ever been to Louisiana?” I take the bag of chips from him. “Your dad ate all my ice cream.”“Mardi Gras two years ago. Mom, I’m starting to worry about your memory.”“New Orleans isn’t Louisiana.”Or maybe it is, I think. When you get down to it, what’s the difference between some backwater asshole’s advising men to marry teenage girls and a bunch of costumed drunks flinging beads to anyone who shows her tits on St. Charles Avenue?Probably not much.And here’s the country in five-minute sound bites: Jackie Juarez in her city suit and Bobbi Brown makeup preaching fear; the duck people preaching hate. Or maybe it’s the other way around. At least the duck people don’t stare out at me from the screen and make accusations.Steven, now on his second can of Coke and second bowl of rocky road—an inaccurate picture because he’s forgone the bowl and is spooning the last bits of ice cream directly from the container—announces he’s going to bed. “Test tomorrow in AP Religious Studies.”When did sophomores start taking AP classes? And why isn’t he doing something useful, like biology or history? I ask him about both.“The religious studies course is new. They offered it to everyone, even the frosh babies. I think they’re phasing it into the regular curriculum next year. Anyway,” he says from the kitchen, “that means no time for bio or history this year.”“So what is it? Comparative theology? I guess I can tolerate that—even in a public school.”He comes back into the den with a brownie. His nightcap. “Nah. More like, I don’t know, philosophy of Christianity. Anyway, ’night, Mom. Love ya.” He plants a kiss on my cheek and disappears down the hall.I turn Jackie Juarez back on.She was much prettier in person, and it’s impossible to know whether she’s gained weight since grad school or whether the camera has added its proverbial fifteen pounds. Underneath the professional makeup and hair jobs, Jackie looks tired, as if twenty years of anger have drawn themselves on her face, one line at a time.I crunch another Dorito and lick the salty chemicals off my fingers before rolling up the bag and setting it out of reach.Jackie stares at me with those cold eyes that haven’t changed, accusing.I don’t need her accusations. I didn’t need them twenty years ago, and I don’t need them now, but I still remember the day they started. The day my friendship with Jackie started going south.“You’re coming to the march, right, Jean?” Jackie stood, braless and makeupless at the door to my room, where I lay sprawled among half the library’s neurolinguistics collection.“Can’t. Busy.”“For fuck’s sake, Jean, this is more important than some stupid aphasia study. How about you focus on the people who are still around?”I looked at her, letting my head drop to the right in a silent question.“Okay. Okay.” She threw up her hands. “They’re still around. Sorry. I’m just saying what’s going on with the Supreme Court thing is, well, it’s now.” Jackie always called political situations—elections, nominations, confirmations, speeches, whatever—things. That court thing. That speech thing. That election thing. It drove me insane. You’d think a sociolinguist would take the time to work on her vocabulary every once in a while.“Anyway,” she said, “I’m going out there. You can thank me later when the Senate confirms Grace Murray’s seat on the bench. The only female now, in case you’re interested.” She started in again on “those misogynistic fuckwits on the hearing committee two years ago.”“Thanks, Jackie.” I couldn’t hide the smile in my voice.She wasn’t smiling, though.“Right.” I pushed a notebook aside and shoved my pencil through my ponytail. “Would you quit giving me shit? I mean, this neurosci class is killing me. It’s Professor Wu this term and she’s not taking any prisoners. Joe dropped. Mark dropped. Hannah dropped. Those two chicks from New Delhi, the ones who always go around arm in arm and have their butt imprints on next-door library carrels, dropped. It’s not like we’re sitting around trading anecdotes about angry husbands and sad wives and sharing our vision for how teenage text-talk is the wave of the future every Tuesday.”Jackie picked up one of the copied journal articles from my bed, glanced at the title. “‘Etiology of Stroke in Patients with Wernicke’s Aphasia.’ Riveting, Jean.” She dropped it onto the comforter, and it landed with a dull thud.“It is.”“Fine. You stay here in your little lab bubble while the rest of us go.” Jackie picked up the text, scribbled two lines inside the back cover, and let it fall again. “Just in case you can find a spare minute to call your senators, bubble girl.”“I like my bubble,” I said. “And that’s a library book.”Jackie didn’t seem to give a shit whether she’d just tagged the Rosetta stone with a can of spray paint. “Yeah. Sure you do, you and the rest of the white feminists. I hope someone never comes along and pops it.” With that, she was out the door, a mountain of colored signs in her arms.When our lease was up, Jackie said she didn’t want to renew. She and a few other women had decided on a place up in Adams Morgan.“I like the vibe better there,” she told me. “Happy birthday, by the way. You’ll be a quarter of a century next year. Like Marilyn Monroe said, it makes a girl think. You stay cool, now. And think about what you need to do to stay free.”The present she left was an assortment of related trifles, a themed gift pack. Wrapped inside bubble paper was a bag of bubble gum, the kind with the idiotic cartoons inside each individually papered brick; a pink bottle of soap with a plastic wand attached to its cap; bathroom cleaner—you can guess which brand; a split of Californian champagne; and a pack of twenty-five balloons.That night, I drank the sparkling wine straight from the bottle and popped every bubble in the wrap. All the rest went into the garbage.I never spoke to Jackie again. On nights like this, I wish I had. Maybe things—the election thing, the nomination thing, the confirmation thing, the executive order thing—wouldn’t have turned out the way they did.

Bookclub Guide

Questions for Discussion            1. We speak more than sixteen thousand words a day—and the women in this book speak only one hundred words. What would it be like for your right to speak to be taken away? How would you voice your thoughts? How would you use your daily quota of words?            2. Humans differ from other members of the animal kingdom since we have language. If we take away language, what separates us from other animals? Would we be capable of rational thought? Would we survive?            3. Our learned behavior is patterned after what we witness. This is exemplified by the drawing that Sonia makes—her father and her brothers are depicted as much larger than she or her mother is. What other things do we learn to do unconsciously?            4. Do you blame Steven for his actions? Tell us how you felt about him. Did you feel remorse for him after he realized what he had done and went in search of his girlfriend, Julia?            5. Were you surprised by Patrick? Is it true that sometimes we don’t know the person we think we should know best?            6. How did the restructuring of the children’s education make you feel? Do you think home economics is beneficial to both boys and girls?            7. Sharon comments that because of her skin color, she will be “next.” How do you think society would have progressed if the ending of Vox were different? Do you think people of color would have been treated like the LGBTQ community?            8. Did reading this book inspire you as a parent? As a citizen of your country? As your (preferred) gender? How?            9. Were there any ideas of the Pure Movement you agreed with? Why?            10. Up until about six years old, children learn language with few problems. Later, language learning becomes increasingly difficult—think about how hard it is for most adults to learn a foreign language. What would be the risks to Sonia and other young girls if the situation in Vox persisted?            11. Jean gives up her voice long before the Pure Movement comes to power by declining to use it. Are there ways in which we voluntarily silence ourselves?

Editorial Reviews

PRAISE FOR VOX“Christina Dalcher’s debut novel, set in a recognizable near future and sure to beg comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, asks: if the number of words you could speak each day was suddenly and severely limited, what would you do to be heard? A novel ripe for the era of #MeToo, VOX (Berkley) presents an exaggerated scenario of women lacking a voice: in the United States, they are subject to a hundred-word limit per day (on average, a human utters about 16,000). Considering the threat of a society in which children like the protagonist’s six-year-old daughter are deprived of language, VOX highlights the urgency of movements like #MeToo, but also of the basic importance of language.”—Vanity Fair“The females in Dalcher’s electrifying debut are permitted to speak just 100 words a day—and that’s especially difficult for the novel’s protagonist, Jean, a neurolinguist. A futurist thriller that feels uncomfortably plausible.”—O, The Oprah Magazine             “In Christina Dalcher’s Vox, women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. Sounds pretty sci-fi, but the real-life parallels will make you shiver.”—Cosmpolitan “Vox is a real page-turner that will appeal to people with big imaginations.”—Refinery29   “Fittingly, this book about women being silenced has got everybody talking and calling it The Handmaid's Tale for 2018.”—Bustle “VOX is intelligent, suspenseful, provocative, and intensely disturbing—everything a great novel should be.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author“Chilling and gripping—a real page-turner.”—Karen Cleveland, New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know“A bold, brilliant, and unforgettable debut.”—Alice Feeney, author of Sometimes I Lie“With language crystalline and gleaming, and a narrative that really moves, Christina Dalcher both cautions and captivates. The names that come to mind are Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley—had Orwell and Huxley had a taste of the information age. VOX is a book for the dystopic present. It woke me up.”—Melissa Broder, author of The Pisces“[A] provocative debut...Dalcher’s novel carries an undeniably powerful message.”—Publishers Weekly“A petrifying re-imagining of The Handmaid's Tale in the present and a timely reminder of the power and importance of language.”—Marta Bausells, ELLE UK“This book will blow your mind. The Handmaid’s Tale meets Only Ever Yours meets The Power.”—Nina Pottell, Prima