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Q: The most explosive thriller of 2021 from the bestselling author of VOX Paperback – 7 January 2021
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‘It’s hard to tell if this book is truly a work of fiction or a horrific glance at reality’ Prima
‘Like all the best dystopian fiction, Q takes the reader just a pace or two beyond where we’re already at. This is a sharply written and terrifyingly plausible tale of an education system where less than perfect is a life-threatening condition… I devoured it in a single day.' Louise Candlish
‘Shocking…a powerful tale exploring themes of survival and superficiality.’ Cosmopolitan
‘Christina Dalcher is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. It's a master class in dark dystopian fiction, clever, thought-provoking, beautifully written, and terrifyingly believable.’ Alice Feeney
‘‘Powerful, devastating, shocking brilliant.’ Woman & Home
‘WHAT A BOOK. ‘Shockingly, terrifyingly real – Christina Dalcher has got another bestseller on her hands.’ Lisa Hall
‘Orwell meets Atwood in Christina Dalcher’s Q, a chilling look at how polite society can sleepwalk its way into horrifying atrocities. Timely, tense and frighteningly plausible, Q is an urgent clarion call against complacency.’ Kia Abdullah
‘Dalcher conjures an America informed by tragic elements of its past and present where science and humanity are both abused in ways that are all-too familiar and plausible. Her heroic women and tough yet elegant prose suggest Margaret Atwood updated for this moment.’ Michael D'Antonio
The most explosive thriller of 2021 from the bestselling author of VOX
- Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers (7 January 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008440603
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008440602
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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The plot is a total rip off of the 'Nosedive' episode of Black Mirror. In the show, your life is dictated by your social media rating. In the book, your life is dictated by your Q (a mixture of factors based on how good your job is, if you are clever and if you are in a stable family). I won't post spoilers here for either of these but strongly advise you to watch the show, either to see how much content is replicated in the book or as a better alternative to actually reading it.
But this is not the biggest factor for me. The element that galls me the most is the authors total lack of ability to maintain her dystopian timeline. The book is set in 2050, the main character is in her mid-thirties, meaning she was born somewhere between 2013 - 2017. This is fine. Then she tells the reader she can remember a time before cell phones (the iPhone was released in 2007) and can remember the samsonite suitcase advert with OJ (they still have the suitcase), which was released about twenty years before she was born. Both of these are total impossibilities and not finding these in proofreading indicates a bad writing and editing process!
Constant contradictions permeate the entire novel, and it drives you up the wall. Do yourself a favour, buy something else and keep your anger down, I wish I had. Now, where is that charity bag, time to pass this on to some other unsuspecting soul!
I did enjoy this. I was expecting a sequel and it wasn't, this is a totally new dystopian world from VOX. It also had a different feel to VOX - in this world, everyone is given a Quotient score, or Q, out of 10. 9 or higher is desirable, and go to the premium silver schools. Next are the Green schools, and finally Yellow schools, for the undesirables. Like in VOX, this is a gradual change - parents don't want their children to be 'held back' because teachers are forced to cater to all strengths and learning styles. Students are tested each month for their ability, and the scores are published for all to see. Teachers have these monthly tests too, so that schools have only the very best teachers. Adults receive better treatment for having Silver cards - faster grocery lines, etc.
The story is told from the perspective of Dr Elena Fairchild, who is a teacher at a Silver school and wife to Malcolm, her childhood sweetheart who has a top job in the Department of Education. They have two children, Anne who is 16 and a top Silver student and Freddie (Frederica) who is a Green student. Malcolm favours Anne and basically ignores Freddie, who had anxiety attacks semi regularly. Testing day arrives, and Freddie is sent to a Yellow school, out of state in Kansas. Elena then decides to fail her test and go to teach at Freddie's school, forging documents to make sure that she's not sent to a different school.
I just found it very hard to sympathise with Elena. She, like the other parents on her street who have children suddenly sent to Yellow schools, is white, privileged and was in favour of the system - until it meant that their children were affected. Before that, she wasn't worried about the system. She helped to come up with the idea while she and Malcolm were at school. She was a bully at school, picking on students who were different and driving one girl to suicide. I just found it hard to really empathise with Elena and her situation. And I was surprised at how long it took her to realise what was going on - that the Genics Institute was perhaps related to... Eugenics? This is explained away as it not being included in her school education, but she finds information online and she is from a German family, her grandmother grew up in Nazi Germany, so how did she not know this? I think we are probably supposed to dislike her, but I just found it hard to sympathise with her throughout the story.
Malcolm is also a really nasty character and it was easy to hate him. He is so cunning, calculating and far too clever. A real 'love to hate' bad guy - especially as he acts like everything he is saying or doing is so REASONABLE (when it's obviously not).
The tone of the novel feels less angry and hopeful, despite the ending. When I finished VOX, I was left feeling angry and wanting to make change in the world, to make sure this never happens. In Q, I was left feeling sad and almost like this may be inevitable, because people don't learn from their past. (Otherwise why would the Black Lives Matter movement need to be put back in the public consciousness? Have we all forgotten Trayvon Martin and Mark Duggan?) Perhaps I didn't connect with this book as much because of its focus on children's education - as I'm not a parent, maybe this just impacted me less. Or maybe it's because I just didn't connect with Elena or any of the characters - I like a 'dislikeable' character, but it's harder when the book is from their point of view. I think this was a good read, but probably not one I'm likely to reread for a while.
It's book that makes you think.
We follow the story of Elena Fairchild, a teacher at an elite school, and her family.
A recent mandate has swept the country that is all about striving for "perfection".
Everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any child who doesn't measure up is transferred to new government schools, so that teachers may focus on the gifted and the perfect. When one of Elena's daughter's Q scores takes a dive she is taken away and Elena does what she can to get her back.
I think that the writing in ‘Q’ has improved from ‘VOX’, it is easier to follow and there are not as many totally irrelevant tangents. It is a quick read, I read it in a day but this really felt like the same book as ‘VOX’. The lead characters were the same, especially Elena, she was exactly the same as Jean from ‘VOX’. The characters just feel like cardboard cutouts, with no real personality. The character that expressed the most personality was Freddie, Elena’s youngest daughter. Even Elena’s grandmother felt too stereotypical and wooden with her random growing up German flashbacks (similar to the Italian background of one of the characters in ‘VOX’).
This book covers many sensitive topics and raises some good issues but I’m not sure it does it that well. It dragged a bit in the middle and the most interesting parts of the book were Elena’s flashbacks to her school days.
I know this seems to be against popular opinion but this is another Christina Dalcher flop for me. I guess she’s just not for me and I won’t bother with any more books by her.