Review by Booklist Review
Language and women's facility with it are the focal points of linguist Dalcher's chilling dystopian tale and first novel. Jean McClellan and her family live in a U.S. taken over by religious extremists who have forced the female population to wear electroshock bracelets that deliver painful charges to any woman who speaks over 100 words a day. Jean, a scientist whose research centered around a neurological condition that causes aphasia, is forced to watch in virtual silence as her three sons become indoctrinated and her six-year-old daughter tries to speak as little as possible. Jean's marriage grows strained as her husband goes along with the new regime. She is then offered a potential respite when government officials come to her for help after the president's brother is diagnosed with the very condition for which she had been seeking a cure before women were forbidden to work. With its focus on the vitality of communication and human interactions, Dalcher's tale is a fresh and terrifying contribution to the burgeoning subgenre about women-focused dystopias spearheaded by Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.--Kristine Huntley Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In her provocative debut, linguist Dalcher imagines a near future in which speech and language-or the withholding thereof-are instruments of control. The election of a conservative president with a charismatic (and psychotic) religious advisor is merely the final straw in a decades-long trend toward repression and authoritarianism. For years, cognitive linguist Jean McClellan, a well-educated white woman, chose to immerse herself in academia rather than become politically active, even as signs of authoritarianism were proliferating. Now, however, a year after the election, women in the United States have been limited to speaking no more than 100 words per day or face painful consequences. When the President's brother suffers an accident that affects his brain's speech centers, Jean might be able to leverage her expertise to restore her status. Dalcher's narrative raises questions about the links between language and authority; most chilling is the specter of young girls being starved of language and, consequently, the capacity to think critically. The novel's muddled climax and implausible denouement fail to live up to its intriguing premise. Nevertheless, Dalcher's novel carries an undeniably powerful message. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Neurolinguist Jean McClellan lives in a near future, or perhaps parallel present-day, America ruled by a right-wing theocracy. For a year, women and girls have been forced to wear electronic devices that monitor their speech, limiting them to 100 spoken words per day and enforcing the rules via electric shock. Those women who still work can only do so in manual labor positions, or-like Jean-abandon their careers to become obedient homemakers. When a crisis grants Jean an emergency dispensation to return to her former research treating aphasia, she seizes the opportunity to push back against the oppressive government but is forced to decide just how far she'll go to risk her family's safety for the greater good. The McClellan family dynamics tug Jean in a variety of directions, bringing immediacy to the stakes; in particular, her relationship with her oldest son and youngest daughter feel vivid and real. The world Dalcher has created is a grim, frightening dystopian America that inevitably calls to mind comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 and perhaps to Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" books, with a government that goes too far trying to recapture an idealized 1950s patriarchal society that never actually existed. Narrator Julia Whelan's reading makes the text immediate and personal, bringing intelligence and desperation to Jean's first-person voice. VERDICT There are a few holes in the worldbuilding logic-women are also kept off the Internet and prevented from reading and writing, without a lot of explanation why or how, aside from passing mentions of computers and books kept locked away-but the narrative is engaging and exciting enough to make these forgivable, especially in the final quarter or so as things come to a head. ["-Dalcher reflects current politics in a clarion call against apathy in a page-turning first novel that is perfect for fans of speculative fiction or women's studies and ripe fodder for book club discussions": LJ 8/18 starred review of the Berkley hc.]-Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.