Book Reviews: Vox by Christina Dalcher; The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Last month I went through a little dystopia phase where I was craving all the female-centric dystopia. I read two, and bought a load more to read. So today, on the blog, I have two mini-reviews, one dystopia that I highly recommend and one that didn’t work so well for me…

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox - Christina DalcherSilence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman. Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning


Vox has one of those synopsis that you read and immediately want to read the book – female-centric dystopia, yes please! The dystopia in which Vox is set isn’t too far removed from the world we live in today, and that gives this novel a chilling political theme of government control. Remember when George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Fourit was published in 1949, I’m sure everyone, at the time, thought the ever-watchful eye of ‘Big Brother’ was absurd, in 2018 we see the relevance of that novel, now more than ever. In the same way that Nineteen Eighty-Four is relevant, Vox is relevant; this novel can be looked upon as a political statement showcasing how the overreach of government control can be detrimental to society, women in particular.

Vox is also current in its theme of women’s portrayal in society, the belief held by many that they are not equal to their male counterparts. This is portrayed extremely well in the book as we see the fractures begin to form in this family, how such a divide breeds hatred and contempt. The relationship between Jean and her daughter, Sonia, was especially touching, as you can imagine, raising your daughter, knowing the future that awaits her. In the author’s note, Dalcher writes that, not only did she want to explore themes of governmental control, but also make you understand the gift of language – and she does exactly that! It wasn’t as thrilling as I expected it to be, but moved along at a steady pace which was perfect for allowing continuous reflection on what you’re reading. It was such a thought-provoking read, and will have you asking yourself what you would do in Jean’s position, and trust me, she is faced with some tough choices – Vox would be a great selection for a book club.

I tend to prefer my dystopia set in a bleak wasteland but Dalcher has shown, when done right, dystopia exists a stone’s throw from today’s society. Vox is a highly satisfying read from beginning to end; Dalcher writes fluidly and intelligently. This novel has sparked my interest in reading more political dystopian novels. I absolutely recommend Vox

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

(publication date: Kindle – 21/08/18, Hardback – 23/08/18)

*My thanks to the publisher (HQ) for providing me with a copy of this title*

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

The Water Cure - Sophie MackintoshImagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake. 

The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation.

The Water Cure was an interesting read, certain parts of it I really enjoyed but I feel like I didn’t fully grasp the meaning behind much of what occurred. It all felt a bit abstract to me, it reminded me a lot of Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin for two reasons: firstly, it has an eco-theme, the dystopia here is that the world is literally toxic to women and so these sisters must live apart from the rest of society.

And secondly, it reads a bit like a fever dream, it’s lyrical and hypnotic, but I didn’t find it easily accessible, it was much too mysterious for me. However, there was one line in this novel that stood out for me, above all others, because I agree with it completely:

“The body is the purest sort of alarm. If something feels wrong, it probably is.”

The theme of sisterhood was strong and the role of women in a patriarchal society was explored but I think it’s more accurate to say this was done using a cult setting, rather than the dystopia.

Overall, I was disappointed with this novel because I felt the marketing around it promised this amazing female-centric dystopian novel and this just wasn’t that – a “blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation” – I wouldn’t call it a blazing vision, more like looking through foggy glass, you can see it’s there but the vision isn’t quite clear. If you have a burning desire to read this one, go for it, however, I think there are better dystopia fiction and cult fiction out there.

This book its available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

*My thanks to the publisher (Penguin UK/Hamish Hamilton) for providing me with a copy of this title*

If you have any female-centric dystopia recommendations, do let me know.


35 thoughts on “Book Reviews: Vox by Christina Dalcher; The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

    1. Thank you! Yeah, such a shame about The Water Cure because the premise of the world being toxic to women sounded so good. I can’t wait to hear what you think of Vox, I hope you love it too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Vox sounds like something I’d love to read, I’m putting it on my TBR list. I recently read The Power by Noami Alderman, not really a female dystopia story, more like a male/female reversal of power story. Very thought-provoking.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I had some mixed feelings about it. I really went in thinking that having women in power would change things for the better….but that’s not how I left the book. It changed my perspective on the whole issue, and for that alone, I found it really interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great reviews! I enjoyed Vox as well, though some things were tied up a little too conveniently for me toward the end, I still think it was a great modern dystopia. I’ve heard mixed reviews for The Water Cure so I haven’t been too tempted to request an ARC yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 I’m eager to read more modern dystopia, do you know of any? I wouldn’t rush to read The Water Cure but it isn’t too long so won’t take up too much of your time if you do decide to give it a go.


      1. The first that comes to mind is Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey. It’s a YA read and really, really strange. Think 1980’s cult compound in the wilderness. It may be too out there for some but I loved its weirdness!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh see Janel.. dang it! On one hand you have me stoked to start Vox as one of my next reads because your review is all I hoped for 🖤 but I was counting on you to sell me on The Water Cure. I was going to pick up the audio. Now I am thinking I will struggle with it 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking of you when I scheduled this post as I know you’ve had your eye on The Water Cure. If the audio is free, give it a go, it’d be interesting to hear your thoughts – I wonder if it would work better as an audio (I slyly doubt it though). Whatever you decide, I wouldn’t rush to get to it. Vox, however, loved it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vox reminds me of M. Atwood a lot! I will definitely read it once it’s out. Awesome review!

    Every now and then i still get surprised when women are treated like they were somehow less than men. I guess it’s not as bad as 200 years ago, but still need improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful reviews Janel! I had my eye on Vox already because I saw Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale on tv and I crave more of that.. I think this book will deliver on the same level. It’s certainly thought-provoking and I like how language and our voice becomes such a treasure here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad you like my review 😊 After reading Vox, I’m craving more dystopia, I have The Handmaid’s Tale, I’m hoping to read it soon, then catch up on the TV series – I heard Atwood even makes a cameo appearance.


  6. Read the Water Cure and it left me with too many questions.
    Some Spoilers
    Was King and Mother a cult. The torture and title may suggest this, but also the title could support any of the other scenarios.
    Is there really an “end of world” thing happening (lots of Ghosts….bodies? and people drifting onto their beach)?
    Or are the girls alien/human hybrids that are kept secret from the rest of the world that has been invaded and King and Mother have hidden them away?
    The chase at the end, the planes overhead seems a bit dramatic. Also if it is true that the men informed the others that the girls were there, why did it take so long for anyone to come?
    Everything is kept hidden. It’s like the truth is as blurred as the girls understanding. The letters King left behind, why the girls are doped up, why the men came really, Mother’s death and even the real age of the girls, Grace is thirty no longer a girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m afraid I cannot offer much help because I’m not sure I fully understood everything myself, but it came across to me as a cult setting. It did all seem a bit dramatic, and I feel like a lot of the meaning was lost in the dramatic-ness, so I’m not sure if the reader was even mean to full grasp it or just understand snatches of it. And that’s one of the reasons I’d didn’t enjoy it, because I found it really hard to understand.


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