Book Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee


The first thing I want to mention before starting this review is by saying that I really tried with this novel. I was so conflicted that even after finishing it weeks ago I’m still trying to figure out how to write this review.

Screw it, here goes.

Before reading this book, I’d heard the book community enthuse that The Thousandth Floor is a combination of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. While I’m a fan of only Pretty Little Liars, the book description gave me the impression that I’d be stuck to this novel like a pre-schooler to a bottle of Elmer’s glue. To say that I was mistaken would be an understatement. After realizing that this book wasn’t what I thought it would be, I only read it when I was doing trivial things like going to the dentist and having to do something in the waiting room. I was determined to finish it regardless of the fact that I felt lied to and let down by the storyline.

The novel is set in the year 2118 and the entire United States is now a giant tower where the rich live on the highest floors and the poor live on the lower floors. It’s an interesting concept that showcases social hierarchy in the simplest of forms. I’m cool with that. I love books that speak about classism and people (especially young adults) delving into societal issues. The beginning was also awesome. Using the prologue to describe the fall that takes place in the end, McGee does a great job at luring unsuspecting readers into the story. It starts off with the genetically modified and “gorgeous” Avery Fuller who is reminiscing about how she came into being and pining over the one guy she can never have. It then moves on to Avery’s drug addict best friend, Leda who has been infatuated with Avery’s adopted brother, Atlas, and even more so after their trip to The Andes. Slowly, the story introduces readers to the other characters in the story like:

Rylin – the poor girl who lives on one of the lowest floors and who has a cataclysmic amount of issues to deal with.

Watt – a boy genius who also lives on one of the lowest floors and who tries to help his family rise above their current financial situation.

Eris – one of the richest girls on the upper floors and also one of Avery’s best friends. Her life comes crashing down when family secrets are revealed.

Atlas – the guy who ditched his family and started traveling the world and who recently returned to the tower (tip: keep an eye on this one, he plays such a big part in this story even though he doesn’t have chapters designated to revealing his side of the story).

All the teens’ stories eventually collide when Avery throws a big party and someone takes a cordless bungee jump trip down the tower. Before that, only few of them actually interact with each other. Honestly, I got tired of hearing the rich kids of the tower bitch about their “problems,” especially Avery. Avery only has two issues and, at the end of the story, only one of those issues gets resolved. In the meantime, it was annoying to read about how she hated how everybody idolized her for being gorgeous. I mean, she doesn’t do and say the things she says to be snooty but her character comes across as artificial as the way she was born. She’s portrayed as “little miss perfect” and I didn’t see any growth for her character throughout the entire novel.

Eris on the other hand, is the only rich girl out of the bunch that had any sort character development. Her perfect family life takes a hit and, after meeting a lower floor girl, she begins to realize that life is more than the jewels around her neck. I think out of the entire book, if I had to choose a character I liked, it would be her.

Watt’s story was also bearable to read. I loved reading about the kind of technology this boy genius could create and the things he did with it. I loved reading about his family life and his odd adventures on the futuristic “Dark Web.” Then, he meets Avery and becomes another one of her worshippers and I completely lost interest in his character. His whole world revolved around how he could get Avery to be his.

I won’t even bother to go into detail about Rylin’s and Leda’s characterization because they came off as one-dimensional and a little extreme. Although, I did enjoy reading about Rylin’s futuristic rave experience (the idea of gold patches at raves and their effects was just stellar) and the shit she goes through to free herself of certain bonds.

Speaking of futuristic technology, I have to lament about the world McGee attempts to create. When the book first spoke about this nation existing in a futuristic tower, I was stoked. I swore that the technology would be so over my head that I’d have to be searching for things in my reality to relate to it. Fortunately, after being a couple pages into the book, I started to question why the book included futuristic elements if it barely used it all. The things that the author expressed in the book was not only not over my head but seemed like variations of things that presently existed in my current era. Cars that take you from one place to the other without you driving and by you just calling them? We call that Uber. An eye scanner that gives you access into your apartment? Been there, done that.

A lot of questions about this world was also left unanswered such as; how did they get a HUGE place like America to fit into one tower? Whose genius idea was it to build such a tower, especially when the U.S. hasn’t had a great history with iconic towers? Who was the current president/ruler of the tower? Did other countries in the world have towers? Why not?

While The Thousandth Floor showed social differences among these young adults, the ending seemed sort of anticlimactic. How could the book just up and decide that this ONE particular character is going to be the designated bad guy? If I had seen some sort of build up, I could understand why they chose her but there was none. With an ending like this, I’m absolutely looking forward to the sequel!

Well, I think that about sums up my thoughts on the book. What’s your view?

Rating: 5/10

Leigh-Ann Brodber is an upcoming enthusiastic journalist. She knows it is a field that is already heavily flooded by diverse opinions, hard criticism and occasional appraisal (when it’s due), but she’s sure she’ll be able to add her own colors to the journalism rainbow soon enough. Leigh-Ann currently attends COSTAATT, a college located in the Caribbean, where she’s pursuing her Bachelors in Mass Communication. She’s written film, stage production and food articles for various websites, and she’s also a born and bred animal rights activist, although she doesn’t think she’ll ever give up her rights to eat chicken. She has helped out at her local hospital many-a-time by indulging in weekly chit-chat with patients under a program called Candy Stripers. She recently started getting help for her long term Facebook addiction, she swears.
  • Danielle Hammelef

    I read the first ten chapters and gave up on this book. The characters were so flat and the author “threw” them at each other romantically. I was also excited about this book, but it didn’t work for me because I couldn’t like the characters and care about them.