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Publisher's Summary

From the critically-acclaimed author of the international best seller Vox comes a suspenseful new novel that examines a disturbing near future where harsh realities follow from unreachable standards.

It’s impossible to know what you will do....

Every child's potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). 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.

©2020 Christina Dalcher (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"The book's examination of the way people will accept more and more small social changes until the system becomes something unrecognizable and horrific feels timely and urgent...top notch and keeps the reader guessing. An engaging parable of dangerous social change."⁠ (Kirkus Reviews)

"Dalcher combines the pace and tension of a standout thriller with thought-provoking projections of the possible end result of ranking children based on test scores. Admirers of The Handmaid’s Tale will be appropriately unsettled."⁠ (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Dalcher's novel reads like an expanded episode of Black Mirror; it is terrifying, haunting, and cautionary." (Booklist

More from the same

What listeners say about Master Class

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  • J. Jackson
  • 2020-04-29

This author has a serious overcompensation issue

Dalcher, in both Vox and Master Class, takes great pains to make sure the reader knows just how smart she is. And if that doesn’t drive the point home, her main character in Master Class refers to someone’s accent as from VA or WV sounding poor, white trash, redneck, hillbilly, and ignorant among other insults. We get it. You think you’re smart. Doesn’t make you less of an ass or a better writer, unfortunately. Signed, an avid reader - also very well-educated - and proud West Virginian who won’t bother to purchase another of your self-congratulatory, arrogant, and poorly plotted books. Both books had such fantastic and totally wasted potential it pains me to say this, but you should really stick to your day job.

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  • nicole tracy
  • 2020-11-11

AMAZING

I bought this because I liked her other book Vox and was blown away. When you are a reading fanatic you run out great stories and start to become bored. This is a breath of fresh air! I can’t praise this book enough! Trust me!

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  • Laura Lea
  • 2020-08-18

A True Page Turner - terrifying

I absolutely loved Vox so I read Dalcher’s other book, Master Class. Dalcher is such a talented author. I don’t think she’s had the recognition she deserves yet. Both books rival A Handmaid’s Tale - they create dystopian worlds that unfortunately have become way too close to becoming real thanks to the current U.S. administration and his followers. In Master Class, everyone is measured by their Q score - wondering if the author already knew about QAnon? I couldn’t stop listening to this book and was really struck by the ending. Having a bright, wonderful son with autism, I loved the way this author wrote about the character/young daughter with anxiety. Highly recommended.

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  • Chester Johnson
  • 2020-06-26

A timely read whose lessons need to be heeded now.

A frighteningly relevant dystopian novel with several lessons to be learned for today's readers. A world where peoples place in society is based solely on your IQ, and your "Q" score as its called holds relevance over every aspect of your life, and it is subject to constant retesting, and your every action can and does affect your overall Q score, and therefore your place in society and the opportunities available to you.

Based in an alternative history that parallels our own time, we see the horrors of our actual past, which our history and history books today seem to have erased, and simply isn't taught at all, repeating themselves all over again in this fictional timeline.

Without giving away too much of the plot, we see forgotten history always finds a way to repeat itself when evil men and women are given a chance to make it so.

A very well written novel, with engaging characters, and a story that keeps evolving and keeps you riveted until the end. A solid 4.5 star read I'd recommend all to read!

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  • C
  • 2020-05-18

Good story, terrible language

Overall the story was a very good one that is especially fitting for the time we live in now, and the history is accurate. It’s shocking really how many people are ignorant of the history referred to in this work. I would have rated this higher if it weren’t for the unnecessary use of foul language shoveled (not sprinkled) throughout. If you can overlook the language, this is a good listen.

1 person found this helpful