I received The Thousandth Floor in exchange for an honest review
This book was the perfect guilty pleasure book for me. Packed with perfect but shallow protagonists and petty, ridiculous dramas, Katharine McGee has weaved a thoroughly addictive, enjoyable tale in The Thousandth Floor.
In McGee’s futuristic New York, the majority of Manhattan has been taken over by a gigantic tower block, one which not only houses apartments but shops, schools, streets and entire communities. The higher the floor, the more wealthy the occupants. Right at the top, on the thousandth floor, is the Fuller family which includes Avery Fuller – a girl who is genetically modified to be perfect, and resents it bitterly. The story follows Avery and a couple of her privileged friends – Eris and Lena – alternating narratives to convey the life of these elite teens.
But further down the tower it’s a different story, as we’re introduced to Rylin Myers, orphaned and left to provide for her and her sister, she’s barely making ends meet until she lands a job working for one of the ‘highliers’ and is swept into another world. There’s also Watt, who also resides on the lower floors, but gets by just fine by harnessing the advanced technology of the time to take on complex hacking jobs.
The story opens with a dramatic prologue in which a girl hurtles to her death, falling from the top of the tower. She’s the first to fall from the tower in over 25 years, and one of the tower security guards muses: “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.”
We cycle back a few weeks to learn about the events which led up to this disaster, and as McGee weaves her complex plot, she had me guessing right up until the end which girl had fallen and why.
The book has supposedly already been commissioned to become a TV show, and on reading it I have to say it has a distinctly TV feel. The fact that I knew before starting the book that it was destined for the small screen could have contributed towards this judgement, but there’s something about the alternating narratives and sprawling, soap-opera feel of it all that just lends itself to television, and I’m sure it will do well.
The Thousandth Floor has been likened to recent popular series Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. I haven’t read or seen either of these, but for me it felt reminiscent of some of my favourite shows and books of the past – think Sweet Valley High or, more recently, The OC, but with a futuristic twist. Reading this story gave me a warm sense of nostalgia for the days I’d spend hours indulging trashy soap operas, and that’s why it makes for such an enjoyable ‘guilty pleasure’.
Having said that, I wouldn’t off-handedly dismiss this novel as ‘fluff’. It’s a well-written YA debut, and the author showcases her ability not only to portray emotive, complex characters, but also to create an imaginative futuristic world. From holographic monkeys to screaming gummy bears and self-applying make-up, Katherine McGee offers a playful look at where our current obsession with technology and augmented reality could take us in not-so-distant future.