The Thousandth Floor

Sometimes you just need to read a light, drama-filled book and escape the real world for a while. I turned to The Thousandth Floor for this exact reason but I can’t say I’m entirely content now that I’ve finished it. Katharine McGee has created a story that’s been called a “futuristic Gossip Girl” which is a very fitting name. Just like Gossip Girl, The Thousandth Floor had plenty of drama but unfortunately it also had very weak characters that couldn’t carry the weight of the story.

The novel takes place in the Tower, a skyscraper with a thousand floors, in the middle of New York. Avery Fuller lives on the thousandth floor, making her the richest girl in the building. She’s also the most beautiful but she has a very dark secret. She has two best friends, Leda and Eris. Leda is a milehigh girl who moved up to the top floors a few years ago and now feels the need to excel in everything to show people that she deserves to be there but sometimes she needs some help in the form of drugs. Eris is the reckless rich girl who sleeps with anyone who catches her fancy but when her mother reveals the truth about her past, Eris is forced to live with the consciences. Watt and Rylin both live on the lower floors and while Watt dates Avery while at the same time spying on the upper class with his super computer Nadia. Rylin has dropped out of high school to take care of her younger sister after their mother passed away and when she start’s working as a maid to the insanely rich teenager Cord, Rylin hopes that he can help her with more than just her financial problems, but nothing is ever that easy.

As you can tell, a lot is going on in this novel. Five main characters tell their story in alternate chapters (a sixth is introduced in the end but by that point you’ve already gotten used to the different storylines). It all starts with a flash-forward when a girl is falling off the Tower only to cut back to two months previously and for the novel to steadily work its way to the culmination of the falling girl at the end of the book.

Now, Avery is your perfect girl. Perfect in every way. Her parents had her genetically modified to be the most beautiful girl in the world, something everyone always tells her she is and something that, of course, is so annoying to hear. Only one person doesn’t say that she’s perfect and that’s her brother, Atlas. They’re not actually real siblings since Avery’s parents adopted Atlas when Avery was five, yet they are like brother and sister. Or, at least I thought so until Avery reveals that she has a major crush on him. Atlas, the one guy she can never have – and perfect Avery can have any guy she wants! Her entire storyline was about Atlas, seeing Atlas date Leda and more Atlas. It was… disturbing, to say the least. Towards the end Avery decides to change her entire life in a moment, thinking everything will work itself out. She was about to make such a drastic move that would alter everything, for ever, and she took about five minutes to think it through. Her naivety really showed then.

Leda is full-on crazy and the character I liked the least. She’s in love with Atlas and had a brief encounter with him before he disappeared for ten months and she blames him for her drug addiction and stint in rehab during the summer. When he reappears in her life Leda goes back to drugs but not before she’s hired a hacker to keep tabs on Atlas movements every moment of every day. Her friendship with Avery breaks apart at the seams during the course of the novel, mainly because they both have feelings for the same guy, although Leda does not know that. She also keeps her time at rehab secret from Avery, creating a further gap between them before turning into a full-on psyco by the end of the novel.

Eris doesn’t have a care in the world until her parents split, which forces her and her mom to move from the 900th floor to the 130th. Eris struggles to come to terms with this, and the reason for her parents’ divorce, and she’s uncertain about how her friends will act around her when they find out that she’s poor. However, Eris finds someone on her new floor and an unlikely romance springs between them and you can see how Eris begins to change for the better.

Watt has an illegal super computer in his possession, which he uses to hack into various databases but his life takes a big turn when he meets Avery and falls for her. However, Avery has her mind on someone else and Watt, being deployed by Leda to keep track of Atlas, finds himself in the middle of the upperfloor drama.

Rylin falls for Cord and their story can almost be read separately from the others, which I found to be a good thing since the whole Avery-Atlas-Leda thing was a bit too much for me. However, Rylin had a personality I didn’t quite like, she did things that I was uncomfortable with and she mentioned multiple times how little money she and her sister had, even that they were months behind on rent. Despite that, Rylin went out every weekend to drink and take drugs she couldn’t pay for. At seventeen I understand she wanted to live and have her fun, but it seemed like a rather stupid thing to throw money she didn’t even have on drugs when her little sister was left at home every single night and their landlord threatened to evict them.

I didn’t really connect to any of the characters. They all resembled the characters from Gossip Girl and no one stood out here. They seemed one-dimensional and most of them very shallow. Leda especially got under my skin. She worried so much about fitting in while at the same time thinking she was better than everyone else. That she blamed Atlas on her drug addiction and turned into a crazy psychopath by the end just made this character into more of a disaster than she was to begin with.

Most of the story takes part in the Tower and yet I still couldn’t picture this skyscraper being full of restaurants, parks, living trees and entire blocks with real houses. McGee didn’t explain much about all the gadgets in this world, and there was a lot, yet for all the new, cool stuff she brought into the story she surprised me with a curling iron that seemed awfully like the ones we use today. I might be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think they’re going to use curling irons in 2118, not when they, in McGee’s story, uses supercomputers in the form of contacts. It seemed very strange and something that stood out in a bad way.

Overall, this is certainly a story with a lot of drama that I think speaks to some people. It can be seen as a guilty pleasure and if you’re into the world of Gossip Girl, this will probably work for you. I wasn’t a big fan and the whole brother-sister love story was no-go for me and the bigger portion of the book was about that. I would never have read it if I had known that, so if that’s not your thing just skip this novel. Despite that, I sadly feel the need to read the sequel so that I can watch the downfall of Leda.