Review Blog

Apr 26 2017

The thousandth floor by Katharine McGee

cover image

HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780008179977
(Age: 15+) Romance/Speculative. In every sense, this futuristic birds-eye view of entitled adolescence seems plausibly speculative. We can imagine that in the twenty-second century most of New York's population could inhabit a single, mile-high building complex, traversed by hovercraft. The futuristic hierarchy is not only structural but financial - bottom dwellers are outclassed by McGee's genetically engineered teenagers and their families on the uppermost floors. However, sex, drugs, rivalry and school are still very much on the menu for all social classes. Little has changed.
McGee follows the cycling fortunes of romantic couples who are acquainted mostly through school or friendships. Eris and Mariel, Rylin and Cord, Leda and Atlas, Avery and Watt transcend social media by simply 'eye flicking' to chat or meet up at school, parties and bars. They each have separate problems: divorcing parents, being orphaned, drugs, poverty, cybercrime, identity issues and not least a taboo attraction; the last of which may warrant an M15+ rating. Thankfully there is no homophobia a hundred years from now - that doesn't appear to be a problem unless you count the irony of the fateful climax.
The entire romance/sci fi mash-up is retold as a flashback after a girl falls from the Tower on the first page. The interweaving of events surrounding a group of empowered and affluent teenagers is skilful but the addictive page-turning claim of Cecily von Ziegesar (author of Gossip Girl) has more to do with Leda's plans to unveil everyone's secrets in order to exact revenge on Avery and Atlas, her step-brother. With so much unresolved, we are in store for a sequel.
Deborah Robins

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