Q

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Member Reviews

Q was brilliant and horrific in equal measure. Like Vox it grabs the reader and makes you pay attention to what the author wants to say.

I had a sick feeling for a while after finishing this book because it felt very real and that feeling grew when I read the author’s note. It wasn’t so much eye opening as wrenching their eyes apart.

Q is cautionary fiction at it’s best, very reminiscent of Atwood in style and subject matter so it’s no wonder I loved it really.

Elena is married to one of the most powerful men in the country, she is teacher at an elite school and has two bright and beautiful daughters.

Everyone in society exists in a system where everything is measured by your Q rating and intelligence is everything. Those who have a low Q rating are placed in special state schools so teachers can focus on those who are considered gifted.

Any negative action has an impact on your Q rating and potentially on the Q rating of those around you.  

Elena is able to overlook the flaws in the system until her own daughter fails her test. Elena intentionally fails her own so she can stay with her daughter. What she discovers there will change the way she feels about the system forever.

“I almost can’t remember how it felt before we all started carrying the Q numbers around with us, like an extra and unnatural print on the tips of our fingers, a badge of honour for some, a mark of shame for others. I suppose, after more than a decade, you can get used to anything.”

“It’s the same with the Q numbers, although we’ve carried numeric strings around with us in one form or another for most of our lives: our social security numbers for tax returns; our home telephone number in case an emergency call to mum became necessary; our grade point averages that would fill boxes in dozens of college application forms. Men, in a clothing store, became thirty-four long or sixteen-and-a-half, thirty-three. Women became dress sizes: six, eight, fourteen. In the more upscale shops, we were our measurements. In doctor’s offices we were our height and weight, watching one number creep down while the other number crept up.

We’ve always been our numbers. DOB. GPA. SSN. BP (systolic and dystolic). BMI. SAT and GRE and GMAT and LSAT; 32-22-35 (Marilyn, damn her); 3 (the Babe). PINS and CSCs and expiration date. Jenny’s phone number from the old song. And for the extreme among us the entire sixteen-digit sequence on our Visa cards. Our ages. Our net worth. Our IQs.”

I think one quote that sums up people’s attitude, including Elena’s own is, “I guess if I think hard enough people can get used to anything.”

It is scary how simply the system came into being. As with Vox this book has the reader constantly thinking about the powerful nature of words and our use of them.

Elena and Freddie were both wonderful characters. I felt like I knew them personally. Malcolm too although he was definitely less likeable.

I thought the use of yellow buses to take children to the state or yellow schools was very clever, something iconic even for those of us who don’t live in America. It turned them from something everyday and ordinary into something to be feared.

“The yellow buses come only once every month, always the Monday after testing day. And they don’t return. Not with passengers anyway. Also, they don’t roll into neighbourhoods like ours.”

An element of this book I liked was the way we got to see the progression of Malcolm and Elena’s relationship, the poor dynamic between him and Freddie and the subsequent impact on his relationship with Elena. The author uses this to illustrate quite how hopeless a situation it is for those women who find themselves without their husbands whilst raising a child.

“Malcolm, with double the income I bring in and half the late days, will always be the fitter parent. Most men are, even the ones who aren’t.”

Q is many things, and has many important messages but I think perhaps the starkest one is not to let ourselves become complacent.
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Firsly thanks to hq for sending me the link to read on netgalley, my first one as im more of a physical reader. 

I loved vox , which was her debut. This is a author whos not afraid to write the shock factor . Life kind of feels a bit strange that dystopian doesnt feel that different. But even so fiction is the cure.

As a mum of 2 special needs kids this was a challenging, thought provoking book. It makes you question your morals and ideas.

Chilling,thrilling and captivating. 

Dark and disturbing but also scarily realistic. 

Although not a easy read it also empowers women like her first book.
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" Nice doesn't matter anymore".

in  the near future, humans are sorted by their intelligence, the higher their Q the more privileges they are allowed - better schools, education, shops, food etc.  But what happens when you youngest daughter fails her monthly test and her Q removes her from her family?

I was gripped from the beginning.  although this is a work of fiction, elements of the story have been taken from history. 

Human nature wants us to fit i,n, be part of the in crowd, be accepted -  but at what cost?

Can lessons be learnt from history?
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Elena is mother to two girls, Anne a high flying achiever and Freddie an anxious student who struggles to keep her head above the academic tide. With monthly tests to help calculate their individual Q scores children across the country are just one wrong answer away from being demoted to a lower tier school and in the worst case scenario being banished to one of the state schools to live away from their family.

Their father Malcolm helps create the rules and wants to ensure his family take the responsibilities of maintaining their Q scores high seriously so he can save face. Anne is his golden child, always hanging on his every word, completely sucked into the unbalanced world he and his associates are determined to create. Freddie however comes firmly in second place in her Father's affections, often on the receiving end of his cold, domineering and controlling ways, alongside his wife Elena.

After another panic attack ahead of her monthly test the Fairchild's receive the call that every parent dreads; Freddie's Q has dropped and she will be heading to a state school hundreds of miles away in Kansas. Knowing her child will struggle being away from home and unable to contact her in any way, Elena sacrifices her own career as well her relationship with Anne to manipulate the system and head to Kansas herself. But what she discovers there is chilling and beyond anything she can comprehend. Her only hope is to try and find a way to get her and her daughter out unharmed.

Although I have seen this story described as being set in a dystopian world the idea of a system based on IQ, finance and ability is one that seems awfully close to home when you look at the world today. The Q numbers that characters in this book attain are based on a huge number of criteria including the Q of your close family and with a bias towards straight, financially stable, intelligent, able-bodied people. With the government determined to create a world where the strongest rise up  and the mediocre are left to rot, it's clear their goal is to create a world where only the elitist survive.

I absolutely loved Elena and as a mother felt I really related to every struggle she faced; clearly able to imagine how I would feel if my children were put through the same experiences. She is an amazingly strong character who depicts the fierce love every mother feels for her children and the lengths they would go to in order to try and change the world and their fate.

This book had me gripped from start to finish thanks to Christina's wonderfully suspenseful writing style. I found it to be such a thought provoking and insightful glimpse into how easily human's can slip into such a terrifying hierarchy in which those on top will do anything to achieve their ultimate dream. 

The authors note of this book explains that whilst her story Q is fictional that historical events mentioned are based on the real stories of  the little known American Eugenics movement that saw many 'feeble-minded' citizens imprisoned in state institutions and forced to undergo numerous disturbing procedures. This piece of information simply added to the terrifying and disturbing nature of the story and reinforced my thoughts on how close to home the story line felt..

Despite not being a massive fan of VOX I can wholeheartedly say I loved Q. I read it in a day, having been unable to put it down and would highly recommend this book. It's a frightening spotlight shone on the horrors of human nature that everyone should read.
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Although 'Q' was a quick read I thought the author tried too hard to replicate the same style of her debut VOX in building a concept around one issue. VOX centred around women being forbidden from talking more than 100 words a day and this follow up, has everything based around IQ. Most kids are aborted if it looks like they might have a lower IQ. The story surrounds Elena Fairchild who has a daughter who is just getting by at school, but is struggling to make the grade. If they don't they are taken away from their families. The spin of the story is what lengths will the mother go to protect her child. Although it had some decent dystopian ideas there is nothing I haven't read before.
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This book is set in the USA, in the not too distant future, perfection is everything.  Not only are people being judged on their looks, class and colour but also for their IQ rating.  You can have tests on your unborn child to tell you what it's IQ will be . . giving you the option of continuing with the pregnancy.  
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at an elite school and mother to two daughters who are perfect.  Children are constantly tested and if their score comes back lower than expected, they will change school.  Elena believes in this system.  Why have a child in a class or school in which they will struggle. What's wrong with having all the gifted children in one school and the less gifted in a more "vocational" boarding school?   
Except, one of Elena's girls scores much lower than expected and is taken away to one of the vocational boarding schools.  Elena is not ready for this and she deliberately fails her teacher tests and manages to be sent to the same school. 
This is a story which explores what being a mother means to some women and how far you would go to protect your child. Even if it means going against your husband and another child. 
This book caught my attention from the off and with all that is going on in the world at the moment, with countries being in lock down and people seriously being scared of what the future will hold,  it's not too difficult to believe that this could really happen.  And not too far in the future either. 

The ending, I felt, was rather rushed.  There were quite a few ends that were tidied up far too quickly for me.  Despite that, this was a thought provoking enjoyable read that is also terrifying. 

The book that I received was called Q but on Goodreads it is called Master Class.  I'm not sure which title I prefer.  They both have merit and it's a good job that I choose books based on the blurb and not just title.
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An intriguing concept, this book looks at a society whose citizens are separated and valued based on their IQ. Well plotted and the secret revealed at the end is executed well
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This book was compelling but it’s fairly obvious what the secret of the story is. I enjoyed the plot but I felt like the ending was rushed.
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Gosh, but, I found this to be a riveting, disturbing, thought provoking read.

It's horrifying in parts, heart wrenching in others and with a fabulous ending.

Outwordly, Elena Fairchild has the 'perfect' family life, married to a prominent government official (Malcolm) and with a daughter (Anne) who is top of the class and one (Freddie) who appears to be on the autism spectrum.  Normally, that wouldn't matter, but, in the world of measures, assessments and horrifying colour coded schools, it means everything.

The book takes you on a journey with Elena, both to the past, where she explores her family roots and upbringing as well as her own prejudices and loves and in the present, where she works to challenge the status quo.

Pertinent in content, certainly not as farfetched as one would wish it to be, this is a well written corker of a read and I'm very grateful to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the opportunity to preview in exchange for my honest review.
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A chilling look at a world which is dominated by IQ. The concept of this book is clever, I love Dalchers books, they grip me from the beginning and I find them impossible to put down.
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A chilling look at a world which is dominated by IQ. The concept of this book is clever, I love Dalchers books, they grip me from the beginning and I find them impossible to put down.
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A good and interesting topic. Nothing like I’ve ever read before. Well written too. Highly recommended xxx
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I found the scrutiny of a person’s worth in this book very similar to "Only Ever Yours", a reference intended as a glowing endorsement, not a criticism :)  Only in this case ‘Q’ scores measure the ‘perfection’ of both genders rather than just the females, although the book does revolve around the central characters of women and girls.

The sinister idea of a government initiative that continually measures an individual’s ‘quotient’ through academic testing and social observance from conception is simply hideous.  It exploits a young person’s ‘failure' or 'success’ for the good of the many – great if you’ve achieved a precious high ‘Q’, not so great if you find it hard to fit in, or if learning is a challenge.

The recipients of a failed ‘Q’ are downgraded, which basically segregates them from their higher-performing herd. Yep. There’s only so far one’s score can slip before the dreaded colour-coded bus parks down the street from your house and the kids who didn’t make the grade climb expressionlessly aboard.

What’s even worse than that is this socially barbaric public service goes largely unchallenged and is even welcomed by parents with high performing kids – so proud, and blissfully unaware of the unethical selection process that has stealthily invaded their lives. That is until THE bus arrives to remove the daughter of a teacher and she vows to get her lovely anxiety-ridden daughter back – whatever it takes.  

Her experience looks at the many qualities that make us who we are, the struggle to be that person under the scrutiny of others, and what we are prepared to sacrifice to achieve that freedom.  I just can’t help myself in thinking she was pretty unlikable / annoying, even when she was trying to do the right thing!

After a considerable build up the ending felt a little rushed for me. But it’s a good read, and a thought-provoking one at that, especially the parallels with our teacher’s Germanic heritage and the heartbreaking history that was made during the second world war.
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I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately it wasn't for me. 

I really liked the concept. Although mainly fictional it is partly based on true life, which is very scary.

However, I just don't think it was executed that well 

I really struggled with the writing style. It wasn't easy to read or that engaging.

It took a long time for anything to happen. The first 150 pages were quite a chore to get through. 

It's been marketed as a thriller. Personally I wouldn't say it's a thriller, it's more of a dystopian book. 

I just found it quite boring. There wasn't much really happening, until the end and then I felt like it was wrapped up too quickly.

I didn't like how it went back and forth in time and I also did not like how the chapters weren't labelled with the characters name. It kind of confusing in places, with whose perspective I was following. 

Overall, I was disappointed by this one. It had a strong concept but the writing and pace didn't do much for me unfortunately
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What a distressing story. Doesn't seem possible that it is based on a real occurrence in the US. I was totally absorbed all through and in bits by the end.
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I read this book in 24 hours! I loved it.
It made me uncomfortable in a "Handmaids Tale / Ugh this could easily happen now" way but it was still a really good read.
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I really, really liked the ideas behind Q. Arguably, mixing together technology, genetics, and eugenics is nothing new in science-fiction but, in my opinion, Dalcher has still written a new and interesting story. 

I think this is because of Elena.

Initially, she is supportive of the Q tests. She is a doctor, and approves of science and logic. Furthermore, her husband is largely responsible for the invention of such tests in the first place. Their combined Q scores has provided a successful and comfortable life for them. However, we  then see Elena not as a doctor or teacher, but simply as a mother, concerned for her children's future. She wants to save them, and this makes her sympathetic, likeable, and incredibly determined.

In addition, unlike other science-fiction / dystopian books I've read, Elena doesn't have to "work her way up" to overthrow the regime or lead a revolution. She's already part of the regime! For Elena, the challenge is being prepared to turn her back on her husband and her success in order to do what's right. To me, this was a new way of exploring the dystopian and science-fiction tradition. 

Q was incredibly easy to read - I think I finished it in a single afternoon. 

The plot pacing was just right, and everything moment felt like a logical progression of the narrative. 

The ending was also extraordinary.
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I struggled to read this book. It was a strange concept and to be honest a little confusing too. I’m sure many people will enjoy it but it’s just not for me.
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I read Christina Dalcher's first book - Vox - last year and loved it, and "Q" has exactly the same sense of despair and hopelessness.  As with Vox, it features a woman - Elena Fairchild - struggling within a system which is designed to win at any cost, through government lies, cheating and total manipulation of the population.

"Q"s premise is that everyone has a Q-score which determines their place in society, and this is constantly being re-tested, reviewed and revised, resulting in unbearable pressure for many.  Elena's unsympathetic and sadistic husband Malcolm is a senior government official who is partly responsible for introducing the system.  He seems un-phased when their youngest daughter is taken away for education at a remote state school, resulting in the further breakdown of their failing marriage.

It's no secret that this book is about eugenics (the tagline is "only the perfect will survive") but what is scary is that it's based on the ideas and practices of real and powerful people, not just Nazis but on the eugenics movements of western Europe and the USA during the early part of the 20th century.  I particularly appreciated the recollections of Elena's 100-year-old grandmother, who was a child during the time of the Hitler Youth before WW2, and recognised the danger arising from a resurgence of some old ideas and enemies.

My only criticism is that the book could have been a bit longer and that the characters of Ruby, Lissa and the journalist could have been used more.  However, the whole story was told from Elena's point of view so perhaps this wasn't possible.  I'd have loved to hear more on Lissa's background in particular.

Highly recommended and a sure winner!
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I absolutely love a good dystopian read, especially one that is unique in some way. Which, lets be honest, is pretty much impossible now given how many dystopian novels there are around nowadays! However, with Q I was pleasantly surprised by the choice of narrator - not a teenage girl seeking to overthrow society whilst making heart-eyes at the nearest available love interest, but a grown woman, a mother, desperate to save her daughter through any means possible.

Personally I thought that the choice of narrator was quite a bold move, as it's something I honestly can't remember reading about before, so that instantly got me interested. As did the comparisons between the present regime and the days of Nazi Germany - this is definitely something hinted at in other dystopian novels, but rarely is the link so explicitly and undeniably made. I also felt that it was very interesting to see how the author took this one step further, and linked everything to the history of eugenics in America. When people think of eugenics, most people think of Hitler, and what seems like the distant past. They don't think of America, and the atrocities that were done there in the comparatively very recent past in the name of eugenics. I was also very impressed by the ending. Not wanting to reveal too much, the most I can say is that it was unexpected and brave and 100% the right thing to do, even if it did break my heart a bit. 

All in all, this was a really really great read. It was completely different to anything I've read before, while still keeping all of the elements of dystopia that make it so enjoyable. I can't wait to see what the author brings out next!

Disclaimer - I was provided with an advance reading copy by NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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