Booklist Reviews 2018 July #1
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. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 August #1
Jean McClellan was a neurolinguist and mother of four before the Pure Woman movement swept the nation. Now, like all women, she wears a counter that tracks every word she speaks—no more than 100 a day. If she goes over the limit, she's painfully shocked. Her son's superior attitude only emphasizes that her daughter is speaking less and less. What happens to society when 50 percent of the population's voices, along with their ability to even learn language, are taken away? This work begs comparison to Margaret Atwood's
PW Reviews 2018 June #2
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.