CBR11 Bingo: #history/schmistory
Vox was an interesting reading experience. I was completely absorbed by it, but really only liked about half of it, and very much hated the ending. And yet, I think I would recommend it…but not to everyone. Does that even make sense?
In a potential future (or is it now?), our extremely conservative right-wing religious government decides that they’ve had just about enough of women. All women are ordered to leave their jobs in order to maintain their homes and take care of their families. Even worse, all women (AND GIRLS. EVEN BABIES!) are government-issued a tracking bracelet that monitors the number of words they say on a daily basis. All females are given a limit of 100, after which they receive an electric shock that gets stronger and stronger every time the word limit is passed.
Of course, the horrible president who put these laws into practice has a personal emergency when his brother has a brain injury, and he needs the greatest neuro-language-brain specialist in the whole world, who just so happens to be a woman, our heroine Dr. Jean McClellan. A woman who’s husband works for this horrible president, and while he doesn’t support these new laws, certainly doesn’t do anything about them.
When Jean is approached by the horrible president’s people about joining their elite team to cure the president’s brother, they don’t even have the courtesy to call her Dr McClellan. They address her as Mrs McClellan, and pretty much leave all of the details of her return to work and the removal of her (and her daughter’s) tracker to her annoying husband. Why would Jean’s knowledge of language and brain function be so critical to the team, yet her ability to sign paperwork is questioned and left to the men in her life? Awful.
The entire plot about keeping women at home, monitoring speech, and sending troublemakers (women who rebel, homosexuals, women who have sex outside of marriage, women in inter-racial relationships) to work camps after publicly shaming them infuriated me. Yes, it was absolutely outrageous, but sadly not too far from the realities that we face today. And the men just got to sit back and watch it all happen. It was this part of the book that kept me reading.
The subplot, where Jean and her team try to figure out what’s really going on in the lab, was just too much. So many dumb coincidences that really ruined the reading experience for me. OF COURSE her husband worked for the president. OF COURSE her research team included the hot Italian scientist she had been having an affair with. OF COURSE the people on her street had been (or were going to become) national news for their misdeeds. OF COURSE her son was going to turn from a normal teen to a Nazi in training.
It really bugged me that the idea of the book was such a strong one but that the details (and the end. My god, the end) were so sloppy. How in the world did the government – after removing 50% of the work force – find the people to fill all of the jobs previously filled by women AND find people to monitor the word trackers AND run the work camps AND manage the new girl-only schools? This made no sense to me. But the original (frightening and realistic) idea of the story was strong enough to keep me invested.