Q by Christina Dalcher

image of the front cover of the book Q by Christina Dalcher displayed on a Kindle Paperwhite and laid on a faux bright background that has been brightly painted. The cover features a simple half black, half white design with a large letter Q in the centre. The authors name Christina Dalcher is displayed as well as an emblem indicating the author also wrote 'Vox'.

Imagine a world where everyone was perfect. A world where everyone is equal in terms of intellect. A school system with ample time for students because they'd be no 'dunces' to take up the teachers time. No genetic abnormalities or predisposition to certain illnesses. Constant screening and testing to ensure your 'Q' score remains within an appropriate range. No divorce, no rule breaking, no freedom. A world of fear where every choice you make can effect your score and cost you your place in society. Sounds...perfect, doesn't it?

As you can gather if you've read any of previous book reviews you'll know that dystopian fiction is my all time favourite genre. Christina Dalcher's name has been coming up in a lot of 'must read' book stacks on Instagram so when the local library had Q on it's available ebook list I snapped up the chance to read it. 

Initially I was excited about this book, a world in which everyone is given a score and treated in relation to that score sounded like the sort of dystopian fiction that I like however this book falls a little short of the dystopian mark as not enough attention is given to exploring the 'new world'. The first half of the book absolutely dragged as it constantly flipped between past and present for no concrete reason. The story is told through the eyes of Elena, working mother and wife to Malcolm, who happens to be the driving force behind the new world in which ultimate perfection is the goal. We spend a lot of time going back to when Elena was younger and whilst it serves to give the reader insight into how things used to be, it seems a little unnecessary and the nostalgia for 'the good old days' isn't what I want a dystopian novel to focus on. I want to be shocked and fearful, perhaps even disgusted in the new world- these feelings did emerge but much later in the story. I did find it hard to persevere and very nearly gave up reading this. 

The pace picks up towards the last third of the book as we spend more time focusing on the new world and it's unhinged, unethical system of perfection. The book focuses on the eradication of certain traits within society so it's inevitable that comparisons to the Nazi regime are made. I personally didn't think these were necessary and I feel like one of the characters was added purely to allow for these comparisons to be made. 

The main character isn't overly likeable, possibly due to the aforementioned flitting back and forth between past and present. The fact that the character spent so much time dwelling on the past made her seem wistful and melancholic. It was only later in the book that we see her as the hero but for me it was too little, too late. 

All dystopian fiction seems to have a hero, a person that can push through the totalitarian authorities in an attempt to bring equality and justice back to the people. This book handles this in an interesting, and unexpected way. I enjoyed the way in which the lead character fights the system but I wasn't very keen on the overall ending. 

The main focus of the story is about how Q scores impact on schooling but the book also touches on general behaviour and relationships. It's perhaps a nod to the archaic belief that divorce is somewhat shameful and there is also an expression of patriarchy as it seems men fair better than women using the Q system- I feel like it would have been beneficial to the reader if the author had explored these concepts in more detail. 

Overall this book was severely lacking. It had some great dystopian ideas but they failed to come to fruition. To me this book felt a little like a first draft or a brainstorm, it didn't feel like all the concepts had been knitted together to form a coherent 'new world' and because of this it felt a little too far stretched and unbelievable. I absolutely believe that it would be easy to segregate society as children based on their intellect and the bias behind it probably exists in our society already but for me this book didn't capture this very well.  


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