‘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 up the heat one degree at a time, well, before long you’ll have a boiled frog. And he’ll never know what’s coming.’
Elena Fairchild lives with her two perfect daughters and her brilliant husband, Malcolm in a beautiful neighbourhood. Malcolm created major education reform that swept the nation, segregating kids and families by Q ratings into a 3 tier system. What if your GPA followed you around for life? What if it determined which school you went to? Who you socialised with? Where you got to live?Sound familiar? It should, as society has been classifying themselves in this way since the start of time. Q is reminiscent of those little yellow fabric patches, star shaped patches, inverted triangle patches, and even a scarlet letter, if you go back far enough. There is perfect. There is average. And then there are the others. The others are shipped off to a state school.
Elena has been feeling disconnected from Malcolm for some time and the cracks are starting to show. The system they devised together, in the hallways of their school, under the jeers of the beautiful crowd is getting out of hand. Now, her youngest daughter’s scores have plummeted and the bus is on its way. What will Elena sacrifice to go after Freddie? And what will she find at that school?
I loved this book. It’s in equal parts terrifying and absorbing. The idea is there, but so is the execution which is where some dystopian can falter, as it can be far fetched or not properly thought out. I was rooting for Elena, Freddie and Anne the whole way. Motherhood and sacrifice are central themes, in this way it reminded me a little of After the Flood, which I also loved. The cold and exacting Malcolm is the perfect antagonist, as are his henchmen in white lab coats. Dalcher also knows how to create atmosphere. The story unfolds slowly in the first part, giving us glimpses of the horror to come. By the time Elena arrives at the state school, I couldn’t put the book down!
Thanks to @harlequinaus for sending this my way for review. 🥰