The future of every child is determined by one standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and they attend a top tier school with a golden future ahead of them. Score low, and they are sent to a federally run boarding school with limited prospects for future employment. The purpose? Education costs are cut, teachers focus on the best students, and parents are happy.
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year old daughter fails her next monthly test, her Q score drops to a disastrously low level and she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal school hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena knows intimately the dangers of failure in their tiered educational system, but as a mother who just lost her child, all Elena wants is to be near her daughter again. And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.
Review: 4 Stars
Wow, Christina Dalcher really knows how to create horrific dystopian worlds. As soon as I heard that Christina Dalcher was coming out with another book I knew that I had to have it. I loved Vox and found it to be a really powerful feminist dystopian novel, so I was psyched when I received an ARC of Master Class. (Check out my review of Vox here!) Master Class is just as horrifying as Vox was, but in a completely different way. Where Vox really focused on gender inequalities, Master Class focuses on how we measure success through intelligence. Both books were horrifying because Christina Dalcher does an incredible job building dystopian worlds that not only feel real, but feel possible.
I really got invested in Elena’s story. It was so horrifying to imagine a future where eugenics is becoming a reality and your worth as a human is boiled down to a Q score. It’s hard to imagine a future like this becoming reality, but Christina Dalcher does a fantastic job of building this world slowly and artfully to make it feel authentic. She points out the eugenics practiced during the holocaust and other times in the world’s history. Christina Dalcher shows just how horrifying these practices could be, but also shows the reader that the entire story isn’t fiction, things like this actually happened. The novel winds up having a powerful impact and shows how judging and bullying can lead to horrific consequences. Once again she created a dystopian novel that hit hard and has an impact because of how possible and real it felt.
The plot was fascinating, but the pacing lost me at times. I found the whole idea fascinating and horrifying, but the pacing of the novel felt off at times. There were times where I could easily set down the book and other times where I couldn’t stop reading. It was just a little bit inconsistent overall. I did like Elena, but thought that her character could have been developed a little better. I do think that I would have been able to relate to her better if I was a mother, because a lot of her motivations were driven by the love for her daughter. There were also marital troubles that were a large part of the story, and while I found them interesting for the plot, I felt like it was another thing that made it harder for me to relate to Elena. Regardless of my issues relating to Elena I still found her compelling and loved her story.
Master Class was a great dystopian novel, but I didn’t love it quite as much as I loved Vox. I do think that it was incredible and it really hit hard. It really made the realities of eugenics hit hard. I think that Christina Dalcher does a fantastic job of creating dystopian worlds that feel real and I hope to follow her throughout her whole career. This book was quite the roller-coaster read and I am grateful that I got to read it early. If you love a good dystopian I would highly recommend checking this one out!