The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Published: August 2016 by Harper Collins
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
This book was one of those impulse reads based on the cover. I was in a bit of a book slump over the summer (hence the tumbleweed on this blog…) so when I came across this gold, gleaming and very unsubtle cover I thought this would be the perfect easy read.
Manhattan, 2118. The Tower dominates the skylines, a thousand floor building which represents the incomprehensible wealth of those on the upper floors and the desires of those on the lower floors. New York City is almost unrecognisable with the vast leaps in technology, but often people don’t change and it doesn’t matter how much money or tech you have. Enter five people whose lives are shaken by family drama, dangerous liaisons and secrets that must remain hidden. But what happens when those secrets risk being outed, and what lengths will they go to to avoid the dreaded fall from grace?
In this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall…
The Thousandth Floor has been likened to two well-known YA series: Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars. Now I’ve not read either of these series (travesty, I know) but I am fans of both TV series so I thought this would be right up my street and it didn’t disappoint. The characters basically read like a Gossip Girl roll call: we have Avery Fuller, the Serena van der Woodsen high society it-girl, Eris Dodd-Radson, the Blair Waldorf best friend, Cord Anderton, the Chuck Bass old money playboy, Watt Bakradi, the Dan Humphrey geeky wannabe, Leda Cole, the Georgina Sparks, the slightly off the rails chick, and Rilyn Myers, the firmly working class Vanessa Abrams well you get the drift. The characters range from the super-rich like Avery Fuller who lives on the Thousandth Floor right down to Rilyn Myers who is barely scraping by and lives on the 32nd floor.
And beneath her bare feet lay the biggest structure on earth, a whole world unto itself.
The setting of The Thousandth Floor is one of the things that really set it apart from your usual sci-fi and I was a little reluctant to use that genre tag. It’s futuristic but the tech advances are frighteningly feasible and not too much of a leap for the imagination (electric-shock instant hair straightening anyone?). The Tower itself is a brilliant metaphor as it literally resembles a social pyramid with the teeming masses at the bottom where the floors house thousands of units, compared to the top where 10 mansion units will make up all the floors space. I have to say though, it did take me a while to get to grips with the architecture of the Tower itself – the sheer scale of it wasn’t immediately obvious and I would’ve liked to understand how it came about a bit more. It seems to have replicas of real NYC monuments but it doesn’t go into why the parks have been recreated or why buildings have been seemingly lifted from ground level into the Tower.
The chapters are written from five different POV with lots more secondary characters part of the story so it was a bit overwhelming at first trying to keep track of who’s who and their respective stories. But it wasn’t as much of a problem as you go along because the stories begin to intertwine quite ingeniously. As with any multiple POV storytelling, I had my favourites and not-so-favourites, and I did find myself skimming through a few of them towards the end. I have to admit this was mostly because in the last quarter of the book we are literally racing towards the climax and I just really wanted to know how it ended dammit!
He didn’t know whether she’d fallen, or been pushed, or whether – crushed by the weight of unspoken secrets – she’d decided to jump.
The blurb really hooked me as well as the first chapter and my interest in finding out who falls from the Tower held until the last page. Whilst a lot of the drama can be described as very #firstworldproblems like falls from grace and wealth, illicit romances, downward spirals etc., I didn’t go into The Thousandth Floor expecting serious and heavy stuff so it delivered on what it promises. I was interested enough in the dilemmas of each character to overlook their obvious pettiness and privilege.
This is a good book if you’re after something a little light-hearted, with enough drama and an interesting twist to the Gossip Girl set up to keep you turning the pages. The Thousandth Floor is apparently a trilogy and although I’m keen to read about the aftermath of the first book, I don’t think it was absolutely necessary.
Have you read The Thousandth Floor? Yay or nay?