The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Novel: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee | GoodreadsRelease Date: August 30, 2016Publisher: HarperCollinsFormat: ARCSource: Publisher
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. But people never change: everyone here 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 her 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 by 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.Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….
It’s been awhile since I’ve gone out of my way to beg for an ARC. After just narrowly missing a copy of this at ALA Annual, I asked a publicist if I could request it later. She kindly indulged my request and I actually screamed when I got it in the mail. It was just the bare galley - minus that stunning cover - but I still loved it wholeheartedly.Now, it’s been through the woodwork. It’s beaten up and creased, from traveling in my camp backpack for days on end, and from making its way to one of my bookworm campers. (Side note: one of the best feelings as a counselor is seeing the girls collectively obsess over something - I loved watching them freak out about this book.)When I originally got it, it was extraordinarily difficult to find times to read it because I left for camp immediately. As a counselor, we have flashlight time at night because the kiddos have an earlier bedtime. On one night, I’m pretty sure I kept my poor eleven-year-olds up with my reading light far later than I intended. I couldn’t help it though — The Thousandth Floor is that good.I have this sense for books that I know I’ll love, and I was insurmountably satisfied to see that was the case with this one. The glitzy atmosphere, swathed in societal details, paired well with the intricate backstories. It feels like a well-plotted contemporary, filled with the shadowy characters I so love, but set in a slick time period that heightens the adrenaline.The tension doesn’t ease up; it added up to a rattling, thrilling read.In any book like this, the most dominant aspect is the world-building. I was pleased with the care McGee took in fleshing out specific details. She did a good job choosing a small portion of the world to work into the underlying structure of the plot, so that the rest of the book seamlessly incorporated the futuristic aspects. Atmosphere is key, y’all, and The Thousandth Floor delivers.With that being said, the novel takes a little while to get going. I had a friend text me and ask whether or not I got into it right away. For me, the answer was yes; I was so eager to get into the thick of the story. I can understand why it was slow for her though. It’s probably a hundred pages or so before the conflict really starts rolling. I can promise that it crescendoes spectacularly, and the glamour of each scene was enough to compel me forward. One nice part about the length in particular is that I could relax into the story each time, in spurts of fifty pages or so at a time. It’s a book to savor.I always have some hesitation about plots revolving around more than three protagonists; it’s a rule of thumb of mine. Still, McGee did a great job of evoking distinct characteristics that allowed each of them to interact gracefully with both the central story and each other.There was Eris, the bisexual girl so used to being a high-roller. After a family secret is revealed, her life goes to shambles. Although she could be superficial, she was also earnest and meant well - which led me to root for her. Leda was kind of a mess, although you could clearly pinpoint the experiences and circumstances that made her that way, and so I empathized. Waitress was fiery and morally confused. I loved her snappy decision-making about her relationships, and the poignant nostalgia built into her story. Watt was brilliant and witty - an automatic winner in my book - although his arrogance could overshadow his successes. Avery was my favorite though. I wasn’t entirely sure what her supposed “perfection” was supposed to entail, but I enjoyed the exploration of the concept and the tangled assumptions of her own life.I loved seeing who I liked change over the course of the narrative. (That’s one of the ways in which I gauge the authenticity of characters - do they adapt? Do they change? Are their decisions gray?) In some ways, each character has fundamental strengths but is pockmarked with precarious flaws that riddle the narrative with cringeworthy, shocking, heartwarming moments. It wasn’t just the people in the book that challenged me though. The environment - so keenly felt - raised some sobering questions as well. Nature vs. nurture? Is there a point where technology is such a detriment? There was definitely some social/cultural commentary in there about privilege that I enjoyed poking through.And despite the breadth of certain conversations within The Thousandth Floor, it's also a really fulfilling, glittery read. There are breathless romances, dizzying falls from grace, characters fearlessly manipulating each other with everything to lose. The allure of the scenes - opulent parties, dark corners, effortless trips to Paris - were as luxurious to read as to experience.I had a lot of fun reading this one. All in all, the captivating world-building, sumptuous atmosphere, and elegant character dynamics were well worth my begging. At the end of the day, I want a book that I can enjoy. I know in a year or two, I'll be dying for the sequel. Now, please?