Review: The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

Title: The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor, #2)

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Photo courtesy of GoodReads

Author: Katharine McGee

Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: New York City, 2118. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible – if you want it enough.

Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a beacon of futuristic glamour and high-tech luxury… and to millions of people living scandalous, secretive lives.

Leda is haunted by nightmares of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’s afraid the truth will get out – which is why she hires Watt, her very own hacker, to keep an eye on all of the witnesses for her. But what happens when their business relationship turns personal?

When Rylin receives a scholarship to an elite upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being here also means seeing the boy she loves: the one whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is grappling with the reality of her forbidden romance – is there anywhere in the world that’s safe for them to be together?

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who’s arrived in New York with a devious goal in mind – and too many secrets to count.

Here in the Tower, no one is safe – because someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, you’re always only one step away from a devastating fall….

Star Rating: 4.5 stars!

***

*I received a free e-galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review*

It comes as no surprise to me that the sequel in Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor trilogy was just as enthralling as its predecessor. Wasting no time retracing unnecessary steps, The Dazzling Heights immediately drops readers just where they were left off– with their jaws hanging open in awe and hearts racing in anticipation. This enables the thrill of the entire book, as the story’s plot builds with every new chapter, finding the perfect rhythm and balance for a killer sequel.

With no time spent on reestablishing plot or setting, the book’s beginning is left entirely open to creating new characters, like new-in-Tower narrator Calliope, and new settings, like the new superTower creation The Mirrors, to be launched in Dubai.

In all honesty, I was worried about the lack of recapping the first book. After over a year away from the Tower and its chaotic residents, I was certain I was going to start turning pages only to realize that I didn’t remember anything from the first book. However, I was wrong.

Despite how much happened in the first book, there really are only a few overarching plot points that are necessary for comprehending the sequel–and they’re all embedded easily within first few chapters’ narratives. Without exclusively creating a “Previously in The Thousandth Floor…” introduction sequence, McGee skillfully and simply refreshes readers’ memories at the novel’s start. By doing so, more time is left for the story to further, rather than remain at a standstill of answering “Who did what?” questions that linger about the first book.

Once my fear of bookish memory loss was conquered, I was eager to explore the places that this world had yet to take me. This is a standout quality of McGee’s novel–it keeps moving forward. The novel’s setting of 2118 allows for so much imagination to be involved and for constant innovation in plot points. With the introduction of holography (filmmaking feat. 360 degree camera capture), an in-Tower agricultural farm that spans over 200 floors, and chemical developments that allow for temporary walking bridges to connect buildings mid-air at the touch of a finger–there’s no limit to what world-building in The Dazzling Heights entails. I adore the innovation that this world allows, and its foundation in reality enables it to be that much more believable.

One of the most interesting aspects of McGee’s trilogy is the structure itself. Each book explores the plot through the experiences of the individual characters–with each chapter denoting a character’s name and then tracing their story within. Since five of these perspectives wasn’t enough, McGee utilizes SIX unique perspectives in The Dazzling Heights.

With four of the five initial perspectives returning in the sequel, I was especially curious how Calliope, an entirely new character, would change the novel’s direction. Just like her demeanor, Calliope’s arrival is exciting, adventurous, and unpredictable and continues to be throughout the novel. By adding this new insight from an outsider to the Manhattan Tower’s world, McGee fends off the opportunity for The Dazzling Heights to fall into a second book slump.

As to be expected in a trilogy that has been dubbed a “futuristic Gossip Girl“, there is no shortage of drama, scandal, chaos, and mystery in this book. It’s the kind of book that has you aching to turn pages, audibly begging characters to restrain themselves from their own self-sabatoge and inevitable turmoil, and groaning in agony when you reach that final cliffhanger (because we’re never safe from those in sequels, are we?).

I was discouraged by The Thousandth Floor due to reservations about character development and relationships, and the icky-nervous feeling that accompanied a fall from a 2-mile-high Tower, unsettling me overall. I didn’t feel any of these things with The Dazzling Heights.

Relationships and friendships that were left underdeveloped and in shambles, world-building that needed I needed more of, and questions that remained at the end of the first novel were all addressed in the sequel. However, that’s not to say that new questions and relationships don’t arise by the end of the second book, because they definitely do. A lot of big shifts happen between the first book and the second, but they’re handled with as much grace and poise as these catastrophic teenagers can manage.

The Dazzling Heights left me desperate for more: each time I was forced to set it down to make way for real-life responsibilities, and finally, when there were no more pages to flip until the faraway release of The Towering Sky in August 2018. This book never bored me–and actually, beat out the first book for my favorite book in the trilogy. Now it’s up to the finale to kick some butt, answer some questions, and conclude this sparkling trilogy in a fabulous, jaw-dropping way.

4.5/5 stars. 


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