Listening to Vox almost brought me to tears many times. This society, this dystopia, feels so real, so tangible, considering current events, that it’s an experience I think you should pace out for yourself.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.
But this is not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
So right from the get go, this book got me so angry. From the first chapters, it was already so dystopic, so bleak, so awful that I almost had to stop because of my emotions. There was almost this visceral gut reaction with me that moved me to tears. I’m not even sure if it’s because of the writing of the book, per say, but just because of how strongly I feel about the current world really. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so truly pessimistic.
But when I was able to piece this story out, to brace myself, this book is good for fueling anger. I think that’s really what it’s supposed to do. Our main character, Jean is a PHD holding scientist whose life has completely shrunk into itself with this horrific conditions. She’s sarcastic, incredibly intelligent, and angry. So angry with all the reasons to be so.
Dalcher takes us through Jean’s present, but also showing us the ways society developed to this. We are able to see the ways in which bystanders did nothing, in which the present circumstances were rationalized away. All the moments in which the world was slowly pushed to spiraling out of control. And what really hits me is how some of the rhetoric in the book I still hear today – about hysterical women and about their roles.
Dalcher’s book hits you in the dystopic feels.
While this book does take place in the US and in the distant-ish future, the world building is done really well. We are shown a lot about the world and the differences to today’s society (and the similarities). What is interesting to me is that it isn’t a world wide phenomenon, but only isolated to the US in the book. The way your voice, your methods of resistance, are slowly taken away from you.
As the story goes on, Dalcher complicates the world. Intersecting venn diagrams of science, patriarchy, and religion. And the last third of the book is really where the book picks up some steam. I think without the last third of the book, I would have had to stop reading for my own mental health.
I don’t think this book is for everyone, especially now. I know a few people who might have loved this, who had to rage stop reading. And, to be fair, there are a few elements which are a bit heavy handed, but if you can pace yourself, practice self care, and read, then you might really enjoy it. There are lines that are so lyrical, it’s almost like spoken word. And by the end of the book, I was just ready to let them all burn.