Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Title: The Thousandth Floorthe-thousandth-floor-cover-blog-pic

Author: Katharine McGee

Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis:

NEW YORK CITY AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

***

The Thousandth Floor thrilled me from the very first chapter. Katharine McGee’s debut novel is fast-paced, creative, and enthralling. The Thousandth Floor is beautifully executed. It incorporates elements of a world both new and old, multiple narrators from varying walks of life, and The Tower–an entrancing setting all its own.

In my experience, it’s rare that an author crafts narrations of multiple characters with immense clarity. As much as I love the variety that comes with including more than one character’s perspective, it can be mega-confusing. It will always be an adjustment to familiarize yourself with frequent perspective shifts, but when it is done well, it adds so many layers to the novel’s depth. McGee succeeds with her incorporation of five narrators–yes, FIVE–and does so with grace.

Each character (Leda, Eris, Rylin, Watt, and Avery) establishes their own unique characterization through their voice. Avery’s passion, Leda’s internal battle, and Eris’ heartbreak are all communicated fully through personal accounts. Without the use of each character’s individual perspectives, I don’t think the story could have been delivered so powerfully.

There is only so much emotion that can be derived from one individual’s perception (especially if it’s believed from an unbiased third party). Certain emotions would not be so beautifully raw if it wasn’t for McGee’s unique storytelling.

So let’s get to the setting. The Tower is such an enticing place–my mind was struggling to grasp how LARGE the building is to begin with. It’s not just a structure, it’s a lifestyle. Life in The Tower is unlike life anyone has ever experienced. Especially for those who live UpTower (where the wealthiest and most elite parties come out to play).

The year 2118 revolutionizes civilization as we know it. Travel from Manhattan to Paris takes only a few hours, alcohol and drugs are more potent and accessible than ever, and all of Manhattan is contained in a tower that is TWO MILES HIGH! If that isn’t innovation, I don’t know what is.

The Thousandth Floor to me is hard to place in a genre. Yes, it’s young adult lit. However, it’s too current to be dystopian, but too futuristic to be contemporary. It doesn’t take place in a distant galaxy or involve extraterrestrials, yet it’s so technologically advanced that there is some small element of science fiction.

Through all of the technology and discoveries made by the year 2118 present in the lives of its protagonists, it’s real. The characters struggle with the same obstacles that we today face–finances, heartbreak, addiction, and envy. They pursue love and lust, the same as all teenagers do. They are us. With fewer bad hair days and more zeros in their bank accounts.

Sometimes drama doesn’t sit well with readers, but it sits well with me. I thrive on it (I mean, my guilty-pleasure TV show is The Bachelor after all. And I did watch Gossip Girl twice through.) So, if you’re not a drama lover, maybe The Thousandth Floor isn’t for you. For me, I got something much more real and raw in McGee’s novel than I did watching Ben Higgins date 25 women on live television or throughout six seasons of Gossip Girl tormenting Serena and Blair.

Through Katharine McGee’s unique story, precise crafting of five simultaneous narrations, and countless epic plot lines, I experienced life in The Tower for myself. I enjoyed the experience of switching perspectives to reveal even more of the tumultuous world in two-mile-high-Manhattan. This book is drama, in the most captivating of ways.

Okay, so here come the setbacks:

  • I’m terrified of heights so I automatically had an issue when I read in the synopsis that a girl falls from two miles up. Yes, it’s lame but it influenced my reading of the plot immensely. At the point in the book right before you find out who falls from the thousandth floor, there’s an entire scene that takes place on the poorly-designed roof that has ONLY ONE RAILING. This gave me multiple feelings. First, because of my fear of heights, my stomach was churning even thinking about someone being that high up with out a railing surrounding them entirely. Second, I almost wanted to read the pages through my fingers like I was watching a horror movie unfold on the screen. I knew someone was going to fall–but who? and how? And once they finally did, I was content that I no longer had to experience time on the eerie roof with barely anything surrounding the rest of the characters from plummeting off the three exposed sides.
  • The controversy. One relationship in particular kinda gave me an uneasy feeling because it just felt wrong.  I’m all for controversy in literature–it makes for a great story. Though sometimes, unfortunately, it can distract from the rest of a really well-written, well-plotted story. If you’re able to easily dismiss the uncomfortable in order to dig deeper, then you probably wouldn’t be as bothered by this as I was. Though the relationship made me uneasy, eventually I was able to ignore it to keep flipping pages.
  • THERE ISN’T A SEQUEL YET. McGee is planning on Fall 2017, but that’s so far away! So much happens right at the end of the story without wrapping up loose ends. I need another book stat.

4/5 stars. Simply because of the relationship controversy. Heights I can get over since it’s not me atop The Tower, but uneasy feelings in my stomach are a little harder to ignore.

Altogether, McGee’s novel is a beautiful debut and places itself in the midst of my favorites! If only I had a supercomputer like Watt to tell me where exactly the sequel is headed…

 


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