Tag: Dystopian

Audiobook Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox
Author:  Christina Dalcher

Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published: August 21, 2018
Audiobook
: 9 Hours 27 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: December 5-10, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Audiobook Description:

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

This is just the beginning…not the end.

Jessica’s Review:

I don’t think of myself as a feminist, but dang, this book got my blood boiling! In a future America where women have literally been silenced in multiple ways: They can’t have a job, vote, travel, use a computer or even read. And even more: They cannot speak more than 100 words a day. Females of all ages (even little children) have to wear a wristband that counts down how many words they utter. Once the counter reaches zero the women receive an electric shock and ff they continue to speak the shock becomes even stronger until… well we do actually see what happens in one case. 

This America has The Pure Movement which is responsible for everything. Yes, this book has political and religious undertones to it.  Many people think of The Handmaid’s Tale. Women are totally silent and men make all of the decisions everywhere, including the home.  It’s not just women who are silenced: There are punishments for premarital sex and extramarital sex.  But it is just the women who are punished. Homosexuality has also been deemed a choice and there are camps where the LGTBQ persons are housed. They are housed in rooms with one man and one woman and are expected to reverse their ‘decisions’ and become heterosexual again. 

Our MC is Dr. Jean McClellan who has four children: Three boys and one young girl, so she is getting opinions from all sides. One of those sides comes from her own son who doesn’t seem to have any issue with The Pure Movement. He even tells Jean his plans with a girl. And Jean says, “what does she (the girl) have to say about that?!?” I’m sure not much since females can’t utter more than 100 words a day!

I also like that Jean is realistic but also far from perfect. We also see how her decisions affect how events occur.

This is a strong debut novel from Dalcher, though the second half was almost like a second weaker story for me.  It was piggybacking off of the original story but going in its own way. There were also a lot of science terms used that might be confusing for some readers. I think listening to the book helped me versus if I had been reading it.  I was still invested in it and found myself listening to the book whenever I was able to!

Dalcher seems to like to write about controversial subjects looking at some of the other books she has written: Master Class which deals with standardized testing in the school system and The Sentence which deals with prosecutors seeking the death penalty put their lives on the line if the guilty are later found innocent. Both of those books I plan on reading/ listening to!

Julia Whelan is the narrator for Vox, and I can’t say anything bad about her! I just love her and could listen to anything she narrates!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Audiobook Review: Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Tender is the Flesh
Author: Agustina Bazterrica

Narrator: Joseph Balderrama
Published: August 4, 2020
Audiobook: 6 hours 44 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To:  September 27-29, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans —though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.

Jessica’s Review:

 This is a novella at just over 200 pages or 4.5 hours long for the audiobook and it packs a punch the entire time!  I had read some about it so I hoped I had mentally prepared myself for it: and that worked! Tender is the Flesh is definitely not for everyone: It is not for the squeamish.  It is extremely gory, brutal, yet also thought provoking. It also brings up a lot of emotions just because of the topic: Humans being bred, farmed, and processed as animals once were. 

There are trigger warnings for just about everything: Be fair warned this would also be some spoilers, but I knew about these and didn’t feel like I was spoiled:

Cannibalism
Gore and violence
Mistreatment of humans
Sexual assault
What can happen to pregnant ‘women’ (mentioned in detail)
Animal Cruelty/Torture. 

**Please note that I was most relieved to know about the animal instance because if I had not known, I don’t know how I would have reacted.  It was still exceedingly tough to listen to and I very nearly skipped over that part. But I can say I did make it through.  Let’s just say if I had not known in advance about this short section I would have wanted John Wick to make an appearance in the book!

In this dystopian world, a virus has spread across all animals worldwide and humans can no longer eat them. If they eat animals then humans will die. Now Cannibalism is mainstream and legal. Eating human meat is called “special meat”. We have Marcos our main character who works in a processing plant, so we see first-hand how humans have become our meat source. This could be considered slow moving, but Bazterrica seemingly covered every detail for her readers in regards to this world.  Marcos wife has left him, and he works at the plant to earn money for his ailing father.

One day he is unexpectedly/illegally given a ‘gift’ of a female FGP (First Generation Pure), the most expensive kind there is. Marcos at first doesn’t know what to do with her. This is in essence the book.  We have multiple instances of cannibalism described which left much to be desired for this listener. So much of this book was hard to swallow, but it was like a train wreck: Once I started it I couldn’t stop! I wanted to see what was going to happen, though I had an idea of what was going to happen about halfway through and that thought ended up being correct. What was mean for shock value at the end was not for me because I had it figured out.  (Dang it- I hate it when I figure out the big twist!) 

This novella is thought provoking in so many ways: Would YOU eat human meat!?!? Could you bring yourself to do it?  How far has mankind fallen for Cannibalism to be so mainstream and not a big deal at all?  Thinking these kinds of things can cause you to just lose your appetite.

There was one small side story that was abandoned I would have love to see expanded on: A conspiracy theory exists that the virus was faked by the governments so society could devolve and ease overpopulation.  Maybe this small mention would be for a sequel? If that came to pass, yes I would read it!

The narrator is Joseph Balderrama and he did a fantastic job!  There were a few humorous parts in the novel which I didn’t expect. He really brought Marcos to life for me.  Just because of the general topic, this book must have been a challenge to narrate.

Will I read Tender is the Flesh again? No. Am I glad I listened to it? Yes.  If you think you might want to read this one, please take heed of everything I said in this review. I only gave it four stars because I figured out the ‘shocking ending’ otherwise it would have been 5 stars.   This is a book that will definitely stay with you after you have finished it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: Forgive Me Not by Jennifer Baker

Forgive Me Not
Author: Jennifer Baker

Published: August 15, 2023
400 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 30-August 19, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

All it took was one night and one bad decision for fifteen-year-old Violetta Chen-Samuels’ life to go off the rails. After driving drunk and causing the accident that kills her little sister, Violetta is incarcerated. As a juvenile offender, her fate is in the hands of those she’s wronged—her family. With their forgiveness, she could go home. But without it? Well…

Denied their forgiveness, Violetta is now left with two options, neither good—remain in juvenile detention for an uncertain sentence or participate in the Trials, potentially regaining her freedom and what she wants most of all, her family’s love. But the Trials are no easy feat and in the quest to prove her remorse, Violetta is forced to confront not only her family’s pain, but her own—and the question of whether their forgiveness is more important than forgiving herself.

Jessica’s Review:

Forgive Me Not is a YA novel with a bit of dystopian touches that shows the problems the juvenile justice system (and also our adult system) has in regards to sexism, racism, classism, and more. 

We have two povs: Violetta and Vince.  They are siblings and Violetta (also called Letta) made a huge life changing error: She did some underage drinking and driving. There was an accident and she killed her seven year old sister in the process.  Therefore Letta is in detention. The chapter’s from Letta’s pov include how many days she has been in detention. Vince’s pov shows how many days since Letta has been in detention.  This was we have two povs: The ‘victim’ and the ‘offender’.

In this world that both Violetta and Vince live in, underage offenders serve in detention while they await their sentencing. This sentencing comes from the victim/ family of the victim. The choices the victim’s side has:

Forgiveness
Serve hard time upstate
‘The Trials’ where the offender has to prove themself.

In Violetta’s case she is the offender and her family is the victim with the loss of her little sister.  With the two povs we get to see both sides of the story: ‘offender’ and ‘victim’.

There are so many issues dealt with in this story. In addition to the issues with the justice system which we see extreme injustices with one particular character we also experience drug use/abuse, peer pressure, LGBTQ representation and a variety of family dynamics. 

Vince seems to be the ‘dream child’ to his parents, but he is far from perfect himself with a variety of problems of his own. Some of these issues are left open even though we do have a reasonable conclusion.

I highly anticipated ‘The Trials’ and what was going to happen. The family of the ‘victim’ chooses the type of trial(s) the ‘offender’ goes through but not what the Trial is made up of.  Everyone’s Trial is different and had no idea what to expect for Violetta. This is where the dystopian elements come in to play.  Could this possibly be what juvenile offenders deal with in the not to distant future?Overall, this is a powerful book that will be the cause of discussions and more.  Will Violetta’s family be able to forgive her for what she did? Even more so, can Violetta forgive herself with the decisions she made that changed so much.

Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to read and review via Bookish First.   

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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