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June 17, 2020

Master Class by Christina Dalcher ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"You know the old story about boiling the frog.  If you put the frog in a pot of boiling water, he'll jump out. ... If, on the other hand, you put the frog in a pot of cold water and turn the heat one degree at a time, well, before long you'll have a boiled frog and he'll never know what's coming....Our parents saw the frog boil in Germany,  One degree at a time. " (p 75)
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Master Class by Christina Dalcher
April 2020; Berkley; 978-0440000839
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); dystopian
I don't read much dystopian fiction but I enjoyed VOX (read my review) by Christina Dalcher and wanted to give this one a try and am sure glad that I did.  Master Class is frightening because I could see it happening in our world the way things are headed.  There is so much prejudice in the world over people who are different than 'us' - immigrants, physically and mentally disabled,  LGBTQ, and the elderly to name a few.  

In Master Class, everyone has a 'Q' score based on their mental ability, their income, and their race. The 'Q' rating changes constantly but if you have a high score, you can shop at the better stores and buy nicer things, get treated better by everyone and, most importantly, for students, they can attend the better schools because it was felt that there was no reason to use education money for students who were less than perfect.  If a student had a high score, they would go to a top tier school with their future bright.  If their score dropped a little, they went to a school that had worse teachers and little support.  However, the students with the lowest scores were sent to boarding schools in other states and away from their parents and families.  The purpose? Education costs are cut, teachers focus on the best students, and parents are happy.

This novel is about the Fairchild family. The husband is Malcolm and he is a government worker who leads the new changes in education, the wife is Elena who teaches at a top tier school and there are two daughters: Anna, who has a high score and goes to a top tier school and is fawned over by her father and Freddie who appears to be on the autism spectrum (Asperger's?) and is in danger of losing her score and being sent to a state school.  When the worst happens and Freddie is sent to Kansas, her mother's goal is to be with her and rescue her from the school and she is prepared to do the unthinkable and risk her marriage and her 'Q' score and maybe even her life to be with her daughter.

Parts of this book are so difficult to read because they reflect what is going on now. The rich are only worried about their children and their lives and have no sympathy for other people. The government is making the decisions and people are following them with no thoughts of their own. I thought that Malcolm was pure evil as he did his job and destroyed his family, Elena was a wonderful mother who was able to see what was happening thanks to her parents who came from Germany and the legacy of the concentration camps. The two daughters were trusting - of their parents and of the system that they lived in. Will this family be able to survive being split up?

This is a wonderful, thought-provoking look at a world that is only concerned with the rich and intelligent people and has no concern for other people.  I find that I am still thinking about it, weeks after I finished reading it.

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Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. that cover definitely catches my eye. sounds like a good one
    sherry @ fundinmental