The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor, #1) by Katharine McGee
Published by HarperCollins on August 30, 2016
Genres: young adult, science fiction
Format: Paperback (ARC)
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Futuristic Gossip Girl. If that phrase intrigues you, then definitely pick up this book.
The first pitch I heard for The Thousandth Floor included those three words, and they are very, very accurate. Which kind of makes this book hard to place, genre-wise, because, while it’s set in the future, I’m hesitant to place it under “science fiction.” Sci-fi would cover all the advanced technology introduced in this book, but I feel sci-fi would mean this book is set on another planet and spaceships. In my mind, it’s more of a “futuristic contemporary,” if that makes sense.
I worried this book would be biting off more than it could chew. Futuristic New York, big secrets, and five different people to follow, all in one book together from a debut author? It sounds like a lot to deliver.
But Katharine McGee pulls it off. She skillfully balances everything, walking that very thin line between the seamless juggling of so many elements and dropping all of them. I’m very impressed.
This book shows the frivolity and luxury of affluent teens in futuristic downtown NYC. There are parties, lies, secrets, and many instances of backstabbing. The book does a fantastic job of displaying both the opulent show these teens put on for their peers and the ruthlessness behind the golden curtain of their world.
And those five narratives we follow? Never once did I get them mixed up. All five characters are completely different, with big changes happening in each of their lives and big secrets they’re keeping. I never got confused about who was who. They’re all very unique in more ways than one, and they’re all incredibly clever and cunning. These are not people you want to mess with, regardless of how wealthy (or, in some cases, how poor) they are. They don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty to get the job done, and I liked that. Each character was fascinating to read about, and, though I didn’t always agree with their decisions or like what they did to each other, their actions and reactions were definitely realistic and consistent.
On that note, this is a character-driven novel, which means the plot is character-driven, as well. Everyone we hear from plays a critical role in the events that occur in this story, and you don’t expect it to come together, but it does, nicely and cohesively and very cleverly. Some fellow early readers complained that the pacing was off, but I didn’t feel it was a problem; I enjoyed the slow build-up. It gives enough time to acquaint you with the characters and thoroughly set the stage for all the drama that goes down as you–and the other characters–begin to unravel the truth. (I’ll warn you that the ending is cliffhanger-esque, and leaves us with more questions than answers, so just keep that in mind while reading. That frustrated me a little bit and is one of the reasons I didn’t completely love this book).
None of this would work, of course, if Miss McGee weren’t a capable writer, but she is. In fact, the writing was one of my favorite aspects of The Thousandth Floor. Her style is both easy to read and cleverly descriptive without being overkill. It’s like smelling jasmine: fresh and pretty, but also never too overpowering. There was just the right mix of fluff and depth, like with sweet potato chips: yummy, but also lean and (kind of) healthy for you.
All in all, a solid, fun, and fascinating novel on all fronts. (I’m even more impressed that it’s a debut.) I didn’t adore it, but I definitely really enjoyed it, and I’m ready for more. If you have a fascination with big cities, bright lights, and not-so-little white lies, definitely check this out.
A post-review note: spoiler alert on the ending
Avert your eyes if you don’t want to be spoiled by the ending! It will ruin a big part of the novel for you!
You sure? Okay, here it goes.
I felt I had to mention this, because I know a lot of readers who would really appreciate knowing this. This book is diverse in many ways, and one of those ways is in the depiction of a lesbian romance between Mariel and Eris. I’ve seen several reviewers call on authors to write LGBTQ+ romances where those in the relationship have a happy ending (i.e., both characters are still alive at the end of the novel). This novel, while it features a LGBTQ+ romance, also kills off one of the partners, so keep this in mind if this kind of thing upsets you as a reader.