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
Silence 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
100 WORD LIMIT REACHED
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-Four, it 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
(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
Imagine 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.
*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.