In the near future, a populist demagogue comes to power in America and rolls back decades of progress on women’s rights. In the end, women are forced to wear bracelets which limit the number of words they can say in a day — speak more than 100 words and you get an electric shock. The more you speak, the more powerful the shock. Gays are imprisoned, and anyone who resists the new order is sent off to labour camps.
In other words, Vox is a satire of Trumpian America. One reviewer has called it a re-imagining of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but to me it reads more like a re-working of Sinclair Lewis’ classic novel from 1935, It Can’t Happen Here. Like Lewis’ book, this one focusses on a family divided by the rise of a uniquely American kind of fascism. There are the children who are raised to be little monsters by the state, unrecognisable to their parents. And there is — thankfully — the Resistance. Dystopian fiction without a resistance of any kind, such as George Orwell’s 1984, can be unbearably painful to read.
Vox is an excellent book that deserves a wide readership.