Book review: Don’t Speak by Vanessa Heath

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Wow.  This book takes you on a journey that explores virtually every human emotion there is.  Fear.  Loneliness.  Happiness.  Grief.  Love.  Hopelessness.  Hope.  And of all the emotions in this book, those last two are the most powerful.

The blurb says this:

Speech is illegal. Punishable by death.

The doctor took your voice away mere minutes after you were born. Even your mother couldn’t hear your cries. Now, over two hundred years after the “Silent Night” bill, people go about their lives, flicking and tapping away at their communication pads while carefully choosing each word so they don’t end up like the ones with missing fingers or entire hands.

For years, Rose was the same as everyone around her – nervous when Civility Agents requested a meeting or terrified when Voice Agents rounded people up for interrogation.

But, when everything she holds dear is ripped away from her, she has no choice but to run and join the one group she was taught to fear… the Rebellion.

And yet the blurb doesn’t tell that you’ll grow to love Rose and to celebrate in her triumphs and to grieve with her when she loses loved ones and to despair with her when life seems hopeless and to smile when she finds hope.  And no, I wasn’t crying, you were.  Shut up.

This book took me on a serious emotional roller coaster, and I emerged from it blinking at the real world like some mole emerging from a dark tunnel.  How was the rest of the world unchanged when Rose and I had been through so much?  I’d lived a lifetime since I picked up the book.

Oh, a word of advice.  Don’t start reading this at night.  Once I met Roger and Isaac, I couldn’t put the book down.  I was engrossed.  Sometimes with books that are set in the future, it can be hard to feel engaged instead of analysing and dissecting the world the author has created, but this wasn’t like that.  I was there with Rose as she lived through her highs and lows and ordinary, everyday moments.  All of it.

Five stars.  If I could give more stars, I would.  I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime today.  An amazing lifetime, one that will stay with me for a long time.  I think the term ‘book hangover’ was created for this very moment.

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