Vox by Christina Dalcher
In the not so distant future American women’s voices are silenced. Every female citizen wears a counter that allows them to speak up to one hundred words a day. When the 101st word is spoken electrical shocks emanate from the bracelet and the pain gets more intense with each additional utterance.
Dr. Jean McClellan, a cognitive linguist, can’t understand how it came to this. How could half the population of her country have been silenced and unemployed in the blink of an eye? As she sees her teenaged son transform day by day and start preaching the new world order she laments over the life her daughter will live; her daughter who is now winning prizes in school for using no words over the course of an entire day. Don’t worry there is a resistance. Isn’t there always a resistance?
There is a subtle nod to The Handmaid’s Tale in the text but while that classic is so upsetting this one is so much more so since this tale is obviously set close to the present day. Learning the inner thoughts of a woman so focused on her word choices and so crippled by the limited communication she has really makes the situation she’s living hit home. The author chose an interesting way to illustrate the silencing an entire gender due to politics. One thing the main character always brings up: how sorry she is that she never voted.