Book Review: Christine Dalcher’s “Q”

Elena Fairchild is a teacher, a mother of two daughters Anne and Freddy and married to Malcolm, the man who invented the system of Q marking . Mixed ability schools are a thing of the past. Teachers and children are now graded according to weekly tests. Gaining the highest Q is now everything.

Now different coloured buses arrive to pick up the children. Those living in the right neighbourhoods with high scoring children get on the silver and green buses whilst those that have a lower grade get on the yellow buses to be taken to state run boarding schools and may not be allowed to see their families for some time.
If not for Freddie scoring lower than expected, Elena might not have seen a problem with the Q and how it ran their lives. When Freddie fails to make the grade and is sent to a state school, Elena decides to also flunk her tests to teach at Freddie’s school. What she discovers is far worse than she could ever have imagined.

In this novel Christine Dalcher explores selective breeding to create a human race bred for an improved world and segregation for the good of society.

A gripping dystopian thriller dealing with something that people believe could never happen. Yet it has already occurred in Nazi Germany and in America up to the 1970’s when mass sterilization took place on individuals with disabilities or socially disadvantaged groups. Whether we like it or not we live in a world where class systems exist and a world that judges according to a system where some races are perceived as being “better than” others.
Christine Dalcher’s exploration of these concepts is very thought provoking and deals with a world that to some extent already exists. Our obsession with perfection in physical looks and achievements is obvious in societies today. Our school and testing systems are all about points and numbers and often fail to consider the strengths and merits of individuals.
An intensely good read.

Julie Shead

Stradbally Library


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