It’s taken a long time for me to write a review for this one because I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about it. I posted it as one of my favourite reads of the year on Instagram in 2016 but honestly I’d read less than 10 books that year.
Title: The Thousandth Floor
Author: Katharine McGee
Date published: October 30, 2016
Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.
A thousand-storey tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible – if you want it enough.
A hundred years in the future, New York’s elite of the super-tower lie, backstab and betray each other to find their place at the top of the world. Everyone wants something… and everyone has something to lose.
As the privileged inhabitants of the upper floors recklessly navigate the successes and pitfalls of the luxury life, forbidden desires are indulged and carefree lives teeter on the brink of catastrophe. Whilst lower-floor workers are tempted by a world – and unexpected romance – dangling just out of reach. And 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.
So when a young woman falls from the top of the supertower, her death is the culmination of a scandal that has ensnared the top-floor elite and bottom-floor. But who plummeted from the roof? And what dark secrets led to her fall?
Friends will be betrayed and enemies forged as promises are broken. When you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down…
This book has been compared to chick-flicks both on and off screen a billion times over (It’s true it’s very similar to Gossip Girl) but have you ever seen the film Clueless? It’s a Chick-flicky guilty pleasure type movie that was based on Austen’s Emma – the kind I used to chuck on while painting nails at girly sleepovers. But anyway, if you’ve seen that you’ll no doubt remember that glitzy, rich girl Cher ends up in love with her step-brother, a relationship I always found a little unsettling. Well, The Thousandth Floor has a similar sort of thing going on. I don’t know what it is about this generation of screenwriters and authors and incest. It’s like it’s the last taboo and they just can’t keep their hands off it! I mean it’s clearly highlighted by Mcgee as ‘not-technically-incest’ because Avery’s brother Atlas is adopted but it was a little out there. That being said, it didn’t bother me enough to stop me reading and perhaps it was McGee’s own nod at changing attitudes towards sexuality? I mean, if the argument against incest is exclusively biological then really what’s the problem here?
Moving on from the controversial romance I would argue the narrative was pretty well structured. The 5 perspectives linked well into one-another without the voices being lost and for all intents and purposes it was well written. For once a YA sci-fi set in the future wasn’t a dystopia (something I’ll admit I did find quite refreshing!) It could’ve been a firm favourite had it succeeded more on the level of the characters and their problems.
The story takes place in a city like no other; it’s a 1000 storey tower in which the top echelons of society reside at the top (Avery in the floor 1000 apartment) and the rest exist below. Avery was such an annoying character and, honestly, I didn’t find myself really routing for anyone all that much. Maybe Rylin? She’s a bit of an underdog so it’s that kinda reader-underdog kinship that almost exists without construction. The trouble was less the characters and more that there was a need for a greater evil than the trials and tribulations of being the most beautiful and rich person in the world. Literally, Avery is genetically designed by her parents to be the epitome of beauty and she seems a bit mad about it. I found it to be such a difficult problem to relate to that I was almost glad her feelings towards Atlas were unmatched.
The gentleness of this sci-fi environment was really beautiful – it’s a plausible future and is so subtly written it could almost be prophetic. The technologies aren’t so advanced that they can’t be understood but are forward thinking enough to seem incredible in their own right. The world McGee created for her characters had so much potential to look at real global problems and make a statement and I felt maybe that she owed her world a little more than surface level conflicts. Mind you, that was the element that really made this novel unique – the Gossip Girl/sci-fi crossover element. It’s the reason I’m so torn about this one. McGee was not obligated to debut with a socio-political dialogue that critiqued society as we know it and perhaps I’ve just got it in my head that that should be the purpose of a futuristic novel. But maybe that’s what she did do? Arguably it could be a criticism of the selfishness and limited depth of society in a technologically developed age. Who can say?
Ultimately, in terms of enjoyment, this novel is a bit of a guilty pleasure and a particularly unique debut novel. However, the cliffhanger-esque ‘please buy the sequel’ ending left me unconvinced; I just don’t know that I cared enough about any of the characters to want to find out what happens next. I guess only time will tell…
3 out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!
– Cat –