Monday 27 April 2020


Title: Q
Author: Christina Dalcher 
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers
Release Date: 30th April 2020

BLURB from Goodreads 
The future of every child is determined by one standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and they attend a top tier school with a golden future ahead of them. Score low, and they are sent to a federally run boarding school with limited prospects for future employment. The purpose? Education costs are cut, teachers focus on the best students, and parents are happy.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state's elite schools. When her nine-year old daughter fails her next monthly test, her Q score drops to a disastrously low level and she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal school hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena knows intimately the dangers of failure in their tiered educational system, but as a mother who just lost her child, all Elena wants is to be near her daughter again. And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.


After reading Vox and loving it!  I was on the look-out for more titles by this amazing author. As soon as I heard Christina Dalcher had another book coming soon I was trying to find out more about it. To be honest the first thing I learnt about Q was that it was being released by Berkley Publishing (not in the UK!) under the title Master Class. I read the blurb and knew immediately I had to read it. Then I discovered information about the UK version which is called Q, and to be totally honest I think the UK title Q fits the book better without giving any clues away to what it may contain. After having read the book I would say the title Master Class is a more revealing clue as to what is in the book. Having said that I love both covers that I have seen for this book and think they both fit perfectly. Though if I had to choose a favourite it would have to be the UK one even though I guess some would say it is less revealing. The by-line on the UK version “Only The Perfect Will Survive” is a fantastic clue as to what is to come in the latter part of the book. Another difference I have noticed is that Master Class has Sci-Fi & Fantasy genres listed and Q (the UK) which also has Sci-Fi & Fantasy genres listed but also Mystery and Thrillers which I totally agree with and would also add “Futuristic” to list.

Now to the book…. Wow I want to say sooooo much about this book, but at the same time I am very determined not to give away too much and spoil it for other readers. How can I express to you how much I loved this book without giving away spoilers? I honestly think that sometimes its harder to review a book you loved than one you weren’t as keen on.

The society in this book is made up of “those that have” and “those that have not” though your place in society is decided by your very own Q score. Every single person has their own Q score. A Q score can be tested for and given to an unborn baby. This Q score is constantly checked and updated whether it may go up or down. The Q score is the deciding factor on what school you go to, which has a knock-on effect of what social circles you move in, where you live, as well as what job you do.

The main family this book focuses on is the Fairchild family which consists of Malcolm Fairchild, a high ranking, government official, his wife is Elena Fairchild who is a teacher at a high-class school. They have two children, the naturally bright, studious, and confident 16 year old, Anne, and their younger, more anxious, 9 year old Frederica, though everyone but her father calls her Freddie. Elena’s parents and grandmother do not agree with the current system and Malcolm knows this which is why they don’t get along and it is a rarity for him to visit when Elena takes their daughters Anne and Freddie.

The school system is on three colour, silver, green and yellow coded levels. The highest ranking being Silver schools, the middle ranging Green schools and the Yellow state schools. Elena is a teacher who has a great Q score so works at a Silver school. Anne Fairchild is the “perfect” student who seems to thrive on the continual tests to reassess her Q score. Anne is in what you would call the popular crowd (not like her parents when they were her age) and all the popular crowd go on about are of course the newest Q scores, and who has lost so many points they have lost their place at the Davenport Silver School and will be going to the nearby by Sanger Green School. Q scores can go up as well as down and Elena lives in hope that Freddie’s anxiety of tests etc will improve and she will move up from Sanger Green School and join sister Anne at Davenport Silver School. It is normal to be moved one school down but it soon becomes apparent things are changing for the worse, it seems the tests are also becoming harder too.

Elena actually ponders within the book how people can get used to all sorts of systems when they are forced upon them. One example of this is Elena’s neighbour being 100% in favour of the Q scores and the colour coded schools the whole time her daughter is getting on the silver bus to the high Q score silver school. However, the shock of her daughter being sent off to a state boarding school, her silver status rapidly downgraded to yellow infuriates her mother and the once staunch supporter of the Q system now has increasing doubts and becomes instantly more verbal about the bad points of the system.

When her husband Malcolm refuses to do anything about the fact their very own youngest daughter who suffers from anxiety is to be sent to one of these state schools it is up to Elena to try and hatch a plan to reunite with her daughter. Elena thinks if she can get demoted to a state school, and by forging Malcolm’s signature makes sure it is to the same school their daughter has been sent to it will be of comfort to Freddie and somehow force Malcolm into actually doing something about the situation. It really is a difficult decision for Elena to make as she loves both her daughters. To help Freddie, it means abandoning Anne. Malcolm has always favoured Anne and even prior to Freddie being downgraded to yellow card/state school status he blatantly ignored her. He bestows attention on Anne whilst brushing off Freddie like she is just some irritant to be put up with.

When Elena arrives at her new job at a state school that doesn’t even have a name just a number, #46 she is in for an even bigger shock than the one she had on the journey there, though at least she has made a friend in Ruby Jo, and the quieter older woman also on the bus with them destined for school #46. It’s not long until Elena realises there is more to her new teacher friends than she at first thought, luckily for her as she is drawn deeper and deeper into to the darkness and evilness her husband and his colleagues are creating and think of as being totally acceptable.
In an attempt to save her own daughter, and get the word out about what is really happening in the state schools Elena has to agree to be a test subject for another measure those in charge are wanting to introduce. She soon learns that those in charge including her husband are willing to go to extreme lengths to protect the future they envision no matter who gets hurt in the process. 

This is a 'dystopian' tale that could quite well happen in the near future. I had drawn comparisons with the Nazis system and Hitler’s plans before they were referenced by Elena’s parents and grandmother, though I do read quite a lot of both fiction and non-fiction about that era of history. I thought the way Oma Maria reveals the old uniform of her days in the Hitler’s Youth Girls group. Oma Maria encourages Elena to question the very Q system that Elena had helped Malcolm to create. Elena can see that the system is going to far, becoming too harsh and when her grandmother Oma Maria compares the state schools to Nazis concentration camps, she really doesn’t want to believe things have really gotten so bad.

I adored the story about the frog and how it was recited in front of Malcolm when he insists on accompanying his wife and children on a visit to Elena’s parents and grandmother (last visit for Freddie). Oma Maria asks if they know the story of the frog…
If you put the frog in a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out.” She silences Malcolm with a hand and smiles. “If, on the other hand, you put the frog in a pot of cold water and turn up the heat one degree at a time, well, before long you’ll have a boiled frog. And he’ll never know what’s coming.” Then, taking my father’s hand in her own, she says, “Our parents saw the frog boil in Germany. One degree at a time.” The way Oma Maria recites it as the wise woman who has seen and borne witness to the system that Malcolm is deeply involved with creating. I found it sad to read her family almost not believing Oma Maria when she tells her stories. They think she is making them up, or changing them as she goes along because of her age but this elderly woman is wise and has a lot that needs to be heard and acted upon as we discover as the book progresses. In fact, it turns out that some of Oma Maria’s family were actually involved in some of the nasty experiments that the Nazis inflicted in the concentration camps.

My favourite character, if I had to choose only one was Oma Maria, her love for her family and shame about the past are really well conveyed throughout the book. She is determined the horrid experiments she had heard about in the past would not happen to her great granddaughter Freddie, or anyone else if she had anything to do with it.

The character I enjoyed hating was of course Malcolm, though there were others I could add to this category too, such as Madeleine Sinclair and Petra Peller. Malcolm is a despicable, ignorant, hateful, selfish idiot who cannot see his wife Elena and youngest daughter Freddie. I wonder does he really see his eldest daughter Anne, or does he just see her Q score?

I have to mention the byline from the book cover again as it really is a case of “Only The Perfect Will Survive” in this book. It’s not “survival of the fittest” as it is in some sci-fi books more of only those with great Q scores in their ancestry, their current family and siblings and those who can maintain that Q score will survive and have a “life” as opposed to those with lower scores in their ancestry, siblings and themselves being unable to keep up with the ever higher expectations who will just “exist”. This author really has done her research and this book is so much more than a fictional story, especially when you look around at the way the leaders of the world are leading, sometimes dragging us along. The society and its system has been really well thought out and explained in detail as the story unfolds.
My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were Amazing! I can't express how much this book has made me feel and think! Like Vox, it is a book that will stay with me for a long time after finishing reading it! Probably due to the kind of books I read I had picked up on the subtleties of what the Q numbers were based on and where this book was going long before it was at first clearly hinted at and then revealed. I readily admit to being in tears throughout the last chapters but it was the ending that had to be, though I think a sad one. I will most certainly be on the lookout for any other books by Christina Dalcher she has the ability to tie history, current probabilities and future possibilities all into one fantastic story. I have already purchased and added another couple of books to my "must read" list as Christina recommends them.

To sum up I thought this book was an amazing read and I highly recommend reading it. Honestly the way the world is progressing at the moment it may not be as far fetched as you may at first think. Definitely thought provoking and made me eager to know what is coming next from this brilliant author.

No comments:

Post a Comment