Q – Christina Dalcher

Published by: HQ
Pages: 384
Date released: 30/04/2020
Date read: 06/02/2021

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone most undergo routing tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her. But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined.

I tried reading Christina Dalcher’s previous book, Vox, but couldn’t get into it enough to finish it. So I shouldn’t be surprised that I wasn’t a fan of Q either. I suppose that’s the problem when you buy a book that has been bigged up so much that you are expecting a masterpiece of a story.

Weirdly, I can’t say there was anything particularly bad about it whilst I was reading it. It is well written and the topic is interesting, and I managed to get to the end. And yet, I really didn’t like it. I felt it was really slow, and by the time I thought something was starting to happen about 2/3 of the way through, nothing really happened. For a book that’s almost 400 pages long, there’s a lot of focus on angry conversations and failing tests. I wouldn’t have minded if I was talking about the first 100 pages as a set up to something bigger. But it just went on and on and on, and eventually I didn’t care about what happened to the characters. And then randomly, about 50 pages before the end, it went down a dark path that hadn’t really been explored before then in the book, other than the odd half-mention. I didn’t think it matched the rest of the story and almost seemed rush, like the author realised she had to finish the book but didn’t have enough time to tease it out. It would have been better if this twist had started earlier on in the book.

The premise was terrifying, and not too far removed from reality to be impossible. An yet the execution of it wasn’t. I never felt scared for the characters, even when they were being carted off to the state schools (a.k.a. prisons by any other name), or even when…


Eliza was forcibly sterilised at the end. It just didn’t seem that big of a deal.

It was neither so realistic that you can identify with the characters and storyline, or dystopian enough that it’s clearly set in another world.

I found Elena really hard to relate to. I know this is meant to be a dystopian fiction, but some characters leap off the page as if they were real, but it was clear throughout that Elena was just a book character that you would forget once you had finished.

It was all very…meh. And if I knew how to put an emoji into this post, I would add a lady shrugging her shoulders at this point.

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