Review: VOX

*This review does contain a spoiler towards the end, so please keep that in mind when reading!*

One thing we have to thank this administration for is the endless ideas for feminist dystopian novels. I’ve read and loved a few of them this year already; The Power by Naomi Alderman and Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. And we can not forget Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaids Tale, which has been a terrifying dystopia since it was published in 1985 and when it was turned into a TV show on Hulu in 2017. Christina Dalcher doesn’t hold back in her world in which women have only 100 words to speak a day in her novel, Vox.

We follow Jean, a thriving cognitive linguist who was on the brink of discovering a cure for individuals who were left without the ability to speak after a stroke, who has now been regulated to being a stay at home wife and mother. After the election of a totalitarian leader to the presidency, and the Pure Movement sweeps the nation, there are new laws which prevent women from holding jobs, reading, writing, and speaking. Also, don’t think about non-verbal communication, there are camera’s everywhere to make sure you don’t do that either.

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The exposition of Vox is where Christina Dalcher thrived. We start the novel when the president is already in charge, laws have already been made and women have already had their speech limited. Woman from babies six months and up have been fitted with bracelets that prevent them from speaking more than 100 words a day, to be electrocuted if they go over their limit. Yet, through Jean’s reflection we see how the country got to the state that it was in. We see so many groups of people: the feminists who rallied and fought, the white women like our narrator, who sat by and did nothing, the LGBTQ+ community who have been either “converted” or imprisoned, and the men who and those who don’t agree with the politics yet are still thriving. The exposition is full of reflection of the world and how America got to where it is. Not just in the novel, but also where we are as a country today. For example; while Donald Trump wasn’t written by name, the allusion between the president in the novel and himself is very clear.

However, once we get to the action it loses track of all of the ideas and speculation that was set up by the exposition and becomes a fast paced thriller. While it does grip the reader and leaves one on the edge of their seat, the real grit of the novel fails to hold up under all of the pressure of the action. When Dalcher has set up such a intense novel with her political and social climate it is a shame the novel doesn’t keep that commentary up and instead sinks into a action movie where the plausibility doesn’t hold up with convenient, lucky and unbelievable resolutions that leave a less than feminist taste in ones mouth.

I was disappointed by this novel. I had a lot of high hopes and after hearing it compared to The Handmaid’s Tale I knew that I had to have it. I wanted more of and was expecting more of the social and political commentary and less of the face paced thriller in which our feminist novel has all of the really hard work completed by men and in which the saving of the world is done by men. In a novel that is supposed to be talking about feminism and empowerment for women, I think it really lost is message when *spoiler alert* a man is the one who ultimately saves the day and rescues our damsel in distress.

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With that said, would I recommend this book? Absolutely. I think even with the fast paced thriller and unrealistic resolutions this book has a lot of things to unpack that really should be discussed. One of those things is the idea of the white women in America who do not do anything, who sit by and let things happen and don’t get angry until we are losing our rights. Jean is the perfect example of this, at one point when her roommate Jacko, a lesbian feminist, is upset about the currently climate, Jean says “You’re getting hysterical about it.” to which Jacko responds, “Well, someone needs to be hysterical around here.” While I think there was so much that could have been done with this novel, the message is clear and is important. We need to do more, especially those of us who have privileges that others don’t, before we don’t have the ability to anymore. We need to all be speaking up so that our feminist dystopian novels can stay novels, and not continue to be our reality.

 

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

– Hannah

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Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

I’m here tonight to talk about The Power by Naomi Alderman. This was one of the books I received as a gift for Christmas (I actually got it because my fiancé got it for my sister and when he was telling me about it, I got so interested in it I pouted a little bit because he didn’t get one for me… well surprise!) and it was the one I was most excited to read. The minute I finished my book that I carried over from 2017, I immediately moved on to The Power, and let me tell you, I can see why Barack Obama put this novel as number one of his favorite books of 2017 list.

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(Seriously)

The Power is getting a lot of notice for being this generation’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 feminist work. And the hype is deserved. It is a piece of feminist literature that makes one feel all of the emotions, from empowered, to terrified, to enlightened. The novel, just like it’s female characters, are a force to be reckoned with.

 

Alderman’s novel follows four central characters as teenage girls suddenly discover that they have the power to shoot electricity from their fingers – enough to cause terrible pain, and even death. There is Roxy, the daughter of a crime boss in London. Tunde, a Nigerian young man who documents the revolutions happening across the world. Margot, an ambitious U.S politician who struggles to control her powers. And Allie, an abused young woman finds the call to be the Goddesses voice here on Earth.

Throughout the novel, we watch as the world learns what it can be like when women become the superior gender. We find that it does not become a utopia where women and men learn to live together as equals, instead we find a dystopian future where violence and cruelty reign as one gender learns what power can do and as the other struggles to cope with the loss of their long standing dominance.

“It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.” – The Power, Naomi Alderman.

The thought that was left in my mind for days after finishing this novel was that, we know that with great power comes great responsibility, (thank you Uncle Ben) but is the world the way that it is because of who is in power, or is it power itself that causes the world to become the way that it is?

– Hannah

 

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Christmas Book Haul

Good Morning!

I know its a few days after Christmas but I hope that you all had a very merry Christmas, or a happy Hanukah or whatever holiday you may have celebrated! I wanted to share with you the books that I was gifted this year. Books are not only my favorite thing to give as presents, but they are my favorite things to receive as presents as well. I love seeing what book someone else loves or what book they think I might enjoy.

And this year it looks like I was given some pretty good picks.

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  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – In this post apocalyptic world, London is now on wheels, turned into this giant machine that travels the country side looking for other city’s to take over and use for resources. As London is chasing a smaller town across the wasteland, Tom Natsworthy is thrown from the city into the barren wasteland. From there he and Hester Shaw must get back to London before London does something that could put the future of the world at stake.

Set in a steam punk version of London, my fiancee described this book to me as if the cars in Mad Max: Fury Road were larger and had towns on them. Now, this is one of the reasons he is my fiancee, because he knows anything Mad Max: Fury Road-esque is bound to be a hit for me.

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(I mean look at these colors.)

  • The Power by Naomi Alerman – At first, the world is recognizable, everything being as it should and then a new force takes root and now women and teenage girls all have the ability to inflict terrible pain and even cause death. This leads women to become the dominate gender.

Billed as being similar to Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale it seems to be an interesting take on dystopian futures and how women are treated in them. How instead of being the gender that seems to suffer and be oppressed, woman are given a power that for once men do not get to have.

*A bonus: both of these two books are being given a film adaptation, a movie being directed by Christian Rivers set to be released in December 2018 for Mortal Engines and a tv series by Sister Pictures.

  • Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero by Emily V. Gordon – Producer, former therapist and pop culture guru Emily V Gordon takes us on a mission to learn how to be the superheroes of our own lives and find our capes.

As I said in my introduction, I struggle with depression and anxiety, on one of my best days my mental illness is a partly cloudy day, it’s cloudy but the sun pokes through and it’s still pretty nice, but on my bad days it’s like a hurricane, tornado, and earthquake all happening at once. It’s overwhelming and a constant struggle to determine how best to manage and survive. I’m optimistic looking at this book, and I’m hoping that I’m able to find the courage inside myself to don my own superhero cape.

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(#goals)

  • F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self Confident in a World That’s Screwed by Corinne Fisher & Krystyna Hutchinson – Written by the hosts of Guys We Fucked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast, F*cked is a book for anyone who has ever felt like they can not be their true authentic selves when it comes to being a sexual being.

As someone who is a human with a sexual appetite I know I have experienced my own issues with how I view myself based on how society looks at me and my own personal views of love and sex (as a queer, non-practicing, non-monogamous person stigma abounds). Finding this podcast and listening to the way that Corinne and Krystyna talk about love and sex as well as how they talk to the men whom they fucked is done respectfully and non-judgmentally, was refreshing. I can’t wait to read this book addressing these things even further.

Did you get any books for gifts this holiday season? Did you get any of the same books? I’d love to hear about them!

Happy Holidays!

– Hannah