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July 11, 2018

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee - #BookReview #SummerReading

by Alison DeLuca

picture of a pair kissing, only their feet in sneakers visible
picture courtesy of isorepublic
I’m back from hiatus with a review of an addictive book: The Thousandth Floor. Our past few months have been packed with 8th-grade activities: school dances, parent breakfasts, and a big graduation ceremony. It’s been fun but intensely busy.
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book cover for The Thousandth FloorEven in the middle of all that insanity, I began my annual search for summer books. I used my usual secret resource (Google) and went through the lists of recommended novels.

The Thousandth Floor stood out in those collections since it's billed as a sci-fi take on Gossip Girl. My daughter has fallen pretty deeply down the GG hole (taking me with her) and I love science fiction. Therefore, I decided to give The Thousandth Floor a try.

Even with all the dances and breakfasts still going on, I got sucked right away into Katherine McGee’s little world. As the title implies, the setting is a miles-high apartment building. The lower floors are home to poorer residents, but the top floors are home to some of the wealthiest families and their children.

The kids are the main actors in this guilty-pleasure book. There is Eris, whose wealthy life changes in an instant. Leda battles drug addiction. Watt hides a terrible secret inside his own brain. Rylin works for one of the richest families to earn food and rent for her and her sister. Living above them all on the very top floor, Avery is an impossibly beautiful girl - genetically engineered to be perfect.

Featuring these characters in turn, the story didn’t let up on excitement. The kids interact as friends, as lovers, and sometimes as enemies. Several times I found myself in the middle of ‘just another chapter’ instead of making dinner or working out since the plot was so addictive.

The side characters spring to life as well. Mariel is a beautiful girl on the lower floors who gets to know Eris on several levels. Atlas is just too good-looking for his own good, apparently. And Chrissa, Rylin's sister, is a complete innocent.

TTF begins in the grand tradition of angsty teen drama with a prologue-promise of one girl’s eventual death. Of course, that ups the reader’s ante, and I couldn’t help trying to guess which one it would be. In the interests of full disclosure, I guessed wrong.

I was fascinated by all of the characters, even the flawed ones. Eris was my favorite, but Avery was really compelling as well. And Rylin’s struggle to care for her sister in a brutal and futuristic society that almost resembles feudalism or serfdom was incredibly intriguing. It was impossible to put down the book when I read her sections.

Not only that, the setting itself is fascinating. The apartment building is miles-high, and people never go outside. Instead, they visit parks, stores, and streets inside the huge structure, which becomes its own world. McGee’s simple device of placing the very rich at the top and poor at the bottom works perfectly.

TTF isn’t great literature by any means. As I said, if you enjoy guilty pleasures like Gossip Girl or Riverdale, then this is a great summer read. It's perfect for your beach trip or next poolside sesh.

When I finished devouring the book, I couldn’t help looking ahead to the next in the series, The Dazzling Heights. Alas, it looks like the next novel begins the same way with the same prologue-device heralding another dead character. That makes me leery of reading on unless McGee can avoid her own formula. I have to admit, though, I’ll probably still buy Dazzling Heights.

front cover of The Dazzling Heights

I also didn’t like the girl-against-girl (over a boy, yet!) It’s a tired, overused, and infuriating trope, but McGee managed to make the two frenemies (Leda and Avery) sympathetic. While I can’t go so far as saying it works here, the idea didn’t stop me from gobbling down the novel in a few days.

As well, there’s a lot of drinking and drug use in TTF. I guess I'll go ahead and say it: one relationship (SPOILER ALERT!) veers into Flowers in the Attic territory. 

Just be careful if these are issues that can trigger you.

When people ask what you’re reading, you might be tempted to slip a different cover around TTF. I said this is a guilty pleasure, and I meant it. However, if you love teen drama, sci-fi, and need something compelling to get you through your eight-hour flight to Hawaii, you can’t go wrong with The Thousandth Floor.

Any other books you’ve read in secret? Please tell me below!

Buy The Thousandth Floor at Amazon

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.Currently, she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

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  1. I agree that this book is a total guilty pleasure. But I really enjoyed it anyway! (Obviously, or I guess I'd have to take out the "pleasure" part.) :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. It was a great book for summer reading. Are you going to get the sequel?