24 Apr 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: MASTER CLASS by Christina Dalcher

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Christina Dalcher

Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 21, 2020

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.

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.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

MASTER CLASS is set in a not too distant future where your ability to contribute to society through your education and book smarts is what contributes to the rest of your life. Set in the time when this has been in place for about 15 years (so in place but not too settled - new dystopian life), it follows our main character Elena through coming to terms with the state of things and desperately trying to make sure her family is safe. It was a look into what the world could be like if people start to value the segregation of schools and prioritization of the "gifted" children over everyone else.

This book had a lot of really good elements to it. I thought that there was a good story to be told here that took into consideration race, socio-ecomoinc status, and disability. But that's not really what we got. Just like with VOX this is a story written by and for white women who proclaim to be feminists without understanding the intracacies of what that truly means. That being said, I did really enjoy reading it and had a hard time putting it down.

I think that there was a really strong writing style to this - Dalcher has a way with words, that's for sure. I could also see the parallels between the current world state, especially in the United States, and this novel. I liked seeing how things started slowly but were clearly escalating to a point that not even the rich, white, affluent families could deal with.

But the story here wasn't as intricate or deep as I wanted it to be: it skimmed the surface of other issues such as LGBT2sQIA+ persons being "downgraded" because of their status, even though they were top students. Or race and how proportionately disadvantaged people of colour would be. Or geographic location and socio-economic status having an impact (although the main character meets someone she thinks should be "dumb" based on their accent who she then respects because she has a science degree - not sure that should have been the ploy there but it is what it is). Or how having a disability can be a barrier. All of these things were briefly mentioned but not given the attention or details they really deserved.

That's not to say that this book didn't address and pack a wallop to it's main audience: affluential white women who think that this could "never happen to them." It shows the mad sprial into "mama bear" territory and how you would do anything for your children. But only at a certain point. And I think that's important for people to see: people are only doing things once they have no other choice rather than being on the front lines from the beginning. You could definitely see that Dalcher has grown as an author from between writing VOX and writing MASTER CLASS.

I liked Elena as a character - I do think she had a lot of growth during the novel. And her relationships were really interesting and well done as well. Everyone felt like a different character and I coudl easily distingusih between what they wanted and what they needed which is always great for character development.

I would say if you loved VOX, you will love this. If you thought that was okay, you'll think this is okay. And if you hated it, you'll hate this. I would recommend it to my book club and my mom but not to anyone who is a minority. But I am looking forward to Dalcher's next book and seeing how she grows as an author.

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?


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