Government Deceptions in Q | Spoiler-Free Review

Q by Christina Dalcher

5 Star Rating System 5 stars

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Author: Christina Dalcher
Publisher: April 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 384 {paperback}

Review on Goodreads

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

Whew. This was intense. An absolute powerhouse of a dystopian that really gets you thinking about how much our lives could be controlled and how important our own actions are when it comes to treating others with respect. This book leaves you reeling and awed.


AH. Where to begin?! This is a wild dystopian set in America where the government has decided it’s had enough of imperfect people. Everyone has slowly been introduced to this new system and eventually were graded with a ‘Q’ score. This isn’t just about intelligence; it’s about their performance, how many annual leave days they take, and even to do with how their family members behave. It’s super strict, super competitive and super terrifying.

The main character is a mother of two girls and she’s married to a man who basically calls the shots for the education system – one of the areas most harshly regulated by this Q system. She’s not happy. Her marriage is disintegrating and from page one we get the gist that her husband doesn’t really care about her anymore and sure as hell only cares about his daughters if they’re performing well.

Elena is a teacher and she has a very high Q score. Her eldest daughter also has a high Q score but her youngest struggles. In this world, there are three tiers of schools: silver schools (for Q scores over 9), green schools (for Q scores between 8 and 9) and yellow schools for everyone else. No-one sees the kids again after they go to a yellow school, just about.

The system is made increasingly difficult and biased towards certain demographics and Elena constantly struggles with batting away rumours that yellow schools aren’t in the countryside to help the children with lower schools focus more, with fewer interruptions. No, no: people say that much more sinister stuff is going on behind closed doors. But that’s none of Elena’s concern until Freddie’s score drops below 8.

Why I Loved This

This is a high tension novel. It’s addictive to read with incredibly short chapters that hook you in and you soon find yourself unable to put the book down. The internal battle that Elena is struggling with to be loyal to her family but also her desire to do the right thing. Her decisions are clouded with complications when her malicious husband makes veiled threats to make bad things happen to Elena if she makes his life difficult.

The book doubled up as a great story that has you biting your nails and also as a good reminder to reflect on how we treat others. It really plays with the concept of if you can’t see it and it doesn’t affect you, who cares? Something super topical with this COVID-19 situation happening right now: the need to do the right thing, even if it’s not directly impacting you right now, to literally save other’s lives.

At the end of the day, I loved the really strong theme of motherhood that comes through from this. The sacrifices and extreme decisions that Elena has to make to protect Freddie and find out what crazy regimes her husband has helped implement, show no bounds. Not to mention I loved the added element of Elena’s family with their German background and how beautifully their history tied into the story.


So worth reading!!! This is an incredible dystopian that you will not regret picking up. I thoroughly enjoyed every page and was so satisfied with the conclusion of the book. I’m really looking forward to more of Dalcher’s books if this is the standard that has been set!

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Happy reading!

~~ Kirstie ~~


4 thoughts on “Government Deceptions in Q | Spoiler-Free Review

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