Q by Christina Dalcher | Book Review #QBook #OnlyThePerfect

Publisher : HQ
Available in ebook, hardback, audio (30 April 2020) | paperback (7 January 2021)
384 pages
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review



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 must undergo routine 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 one 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 haven’t read much dystopian fiction but I do like to dip my toe in now and again and this looked such a fascinating read.

Q is a story based around a nightmare scenario that you think couldn’t possibly happen… could it?

Set in an American dystopian world, everyone has a Q number which affects every aspect of their life, even babies are allocated a number at birth based on their parent’s Q. Q is a quotient number – based on intelligence, income, parents’ education, exam results, attendance records, performance and other factors and it is recalculated each month based on testing. For adults it may determine which jobs you can have, or even which supermarket queue you can use. Whilst children with the highest Q go to the elite schools (silver) and receive the best education, those with the lowest are sent far away from their families to federal schools (yellow), with green being in the middle.  No-one wants to be sent to a yellow school.

Teacher Elena Fairchild is married to Malcolm, one of the heads of the Department of Education responsible for making the rules and a more despicable man you could not meet! A cold man yet one who shows favouritism within the family, he is insistent that the rules must be followed even when it affects his own child, Elena has to make a desperate choice when the Q number for her youngest child Freddie falls below the desired level and she faces being sent to a yellow school.

The concept of eugenics is a focus of this story, and although it may seem far-fetched, who knows what could happen if something like the ‘Fitter Family Campaign’ actually became a reality. If parents separate, then a child is placed with the parent with the highest Q number, who earns the most, who takes the least time off work – which is usually the man.

I could get completely behind the character of Elena as she fought the system that her husband was complicit in implementing, to help her child. As a university student together with Malcolm, she heartily agreed with his views but then her feelings changed, both for Malcolm and for the whole programme. For her grandmother Oma, it invoked memories of the Nazi eugenics programme.

Both suspenseful and disturbing, Q was an unsettling tale of a society where perfection was rewarded and anyone who didn’t make the grade – well they didn’t matter.  I was totally absorbed by this chilling and thought provoking story – right to the very last page.


Christina Dalcher is the Sunday Times bestselling author of VOX. She earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University, specializing in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects. She and her husband split their time between the American South and Naples, Italy. Q is her second novel.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Links:
Amazon UK | Waterstones


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