Friday, April 24, 2020

Master Class by Christina Dalcher

I’m happy to welcome you here today to talk about the suspenseful new novel that examines a disturbing near-future where harsh realities follow from unreachable standards.

I’m talking about MASTER CLASS (Berkley Hardcover; April 21, 2020), the second speculative thriller by Christina Dalcher, author of the widely praised and chilling Vox (2019). In Vox, Christina imagined a near-future United States where women and girls were limited to speaking 100 words a day. In her second novel, the American eugenics movement has returned, and it will take the determination of one mother to stop it.

In MASTER CLASS, every individual carries a number: a Q score, assigned pre-birth based on a battery of tests and updated regularly by means of standardized testing. Score high enough and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it's off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state's elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena's perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.

In order to be with Freddie, Elena immediately requests to transfer to the state school. To her horror, she learns that the children are receiving the bare minimum of instruction. What began as a shock quickly becomes a nightmare as Elena discovers the terrifying atrocities inflicted upon the students. Not only have their test scores been tampered with, but they’re also unwitting subjects of experiments, one of which tests a new method of chemical sterilization. The plan? To render all adolescents with undesirable quotients infertile...and Freddie may be next in line.

It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Author Christina Dalcher photo by Laurens Arenas
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here is a bit of background on her.

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes first place for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards.

She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. What do you think about the Q score?


  1. This sounds like such a fascinating premise, Mason! I've been in higher education for years, and so the context for this one really interests me. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Too scary, but in today's world, I can see it happening. I mean we have a president that's telling people to inject Lysol to kill a virus. What can be more surreal than that? This one is definitely on the TBR list! Thanks, Mason!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.