The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee is a futuristic YA novel that I could not put down! The book takes place in the year 2118 where New York City is replaced by a 1000-floor Manhattan tower. It begins with an unknown girl falling from the 1000th floor, leading readers to wonder how she got there and why she fell. Then the book backtracks to two months earlier to the perspectives of five teenagers. There is Avery, Leda, Eris, Rylin, and Watt and each perspective is distinct and unique, and one cannot exist without changing the premise of the story. McGee makes you want to sympathize and understand more of each character’s motivations, even when their motivations conflict with other characters’ motivations. The friendships between the girls are realistic and layered, tied in together by lies, betrayal, and secrets.
Many aspects of this novel make it very interesting to read, such as the fun, exciting world-building. Futuristic gadgets, such as glasses with Google search capabilities and smart contact lenses, were used in the character’s everyday life. There were also alcohol bubbles people could drink from a straw, a boy with a computer linked in his brain, holographic videos used in classrooms, and so much more. Despite the high-tech world, the high school drama makes the story relatable to today’s time.
Another aspect of the book that I thought was well done was nuanced themes that explore class and privilege, even in a futuristic setting. The higher up you live in the tower, the wealthier you are. McGee contrasts the sparkling lifestyle and mindset of the rich kids living in the upper levels in the tower with the kids in the lower levels who don’t have the same luxuries as the uptower kids. Class and privilege play a large role in the character’s friendships and interactions with each other, adding depth to each character’s motivations and needs.
Though I believe the ending of the story should have been handled better, this character-driven story was an entertaining read that had me hooked from the beginning.
Review by Lecia Sun