Title: The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor, #1)
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2016
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
First of all, what a cover!
Just beautiful. Though there are other covers out there for this book, this one made me fall in love.
This book was everything I hoped it would be. I’ve been dying to read it, I got denied for an ARC…but then Overdrive added it and before anyone else could request it, I requested it first! I saw that the checkout was going to expire in two days, and there was NOTHING that was going to stand in my way of reading this book. Not after how long I’ve wanted to read it.
But let’s get to the good stuff. Don’t worry…it’s relatively spoiler-free. 😉
We start with someone falling a thousand stories from the top of the Tower. We don’t know who it is, just that she is beautiful, and that she questions her choices leading up to that moment. She falls, she dies. The beginning.
We are introduced to a host of characters: we start with Avery, made perfect by her mother and father. She lives on the thousandth floor, and she can have whatever she wants and whoever she wants. But she doesn’t want anybody that she can have. Because she loves Atlas. Her brother. (Adopted, don’t worry…but still there’s a taboo there)
Then we meet Leda. She’s coming to the Tower (everyone in this story lives in this huge tower in NYC: the higher up, the more elite you are) from rehab. She doesn’t want Avery, her best friend, to know. She doesn’t want to be judged. Though she’s high in Tower society, she is insecure. The one thing that led to her addiction? A long love for Atlas. Avery’s brother. Who’s disappeared for over a year and has taken Leda’s heart.
Next is Rylin, a lower-level inhabitant of the Tower. She gets high with her friends to escape the recent loss of her mother. She is the primary caregiver to her sister, and she works crappy jobs to pay the rent and her mother’s old medical bills. She gets high underneath the enormous Tower in a place dubbed “The Steel Forest.” But she gets a call from Cord, the son of her mother’s former employer, and he offers her a job. 250 nanodollars to clean up after a party…and she really needs the money.
Then we meet Eris: a privileged girl with a model mother and plastisurgeon father. She gets whatever she wants, too…nothing is too good for daddy’s girl. She’s been signing trust documents because when she’s an adult, she’ll be very wealthy. But this is no surprise; it is the life she lives. She’s also been seeing Cord Anderton, though she doesn’t want anything serious. Eris doesn’t do serious. Life is too short, right?
Finally, we meet Watt (you didn’t think it would be all chicks in this book, did you? Btw, major diversity here, just so you know). Watt is a hacker, and one of the best. He lives on the lower floors, but he uses his illegal quant computer Nadia to help hack and get paid doing it. She’s also great at getting Watt girls. She knows what to say and when to say it. He’s saving up for a trip to MIT, and he helps his parents pay the bills. Watt and Nadia are unstoppable together.
When Atlas gets back from his trip, the events are in motion. Leda puts an ad on the hacker sites, wanting all the info she can get on Atlas so she can win him over. Eris falls hard financially and has to adjust to life on the lower levels. Avery pines for Atlas secretly, and realizes that he might start dating her friend…and she might lose him forever. Rylin uncovers a stash of pills in Cord’s house while cleaning that could make some major cash. And Watt answers Leda’s ad to get the scoop on Atlas.
All the events and characters intermix and overflow…it’s like a mellifluous song. McGee hits the right notes while building suspense….and as you read, you almost forget that ominous prologue in the beginning. But McGee won’t let you forget it.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so. There’s a lot of drug use described, and though it is “future” drugs, there’s not a lot of repercussions that come from it. Everyone drinks…apparently in 2118, the drinking age is 18. Which is incredibly stupid, in my opinion. 18 year olds think they’re grown up, but they are just legal teens. They still have teenage brains and have poor impulse control. Then again, so do many adults. Forget this tangent. Anyway, the hookups and partying aren’t exactly a “good example” in the classroom, but it would be a great piece of science fiction if you could. There is so much here to explore: the “higher up” mentality and the “lower level” people in a type of caste system, the effects of technology on youth, the consequences of actions that have good intentions but are morally wrong…there’s just so much. It’s a shame it’s not classroom-worthy, because it is definitely shelf-worthy.
So the book is not on Lexile.com yet (I’m sure it will be eventually), but I would estimate 15 and up. I would say that it is intended for mature readers only because of the described drinking and drugging. There’s not any real “intimate” scenes, and I don’t recall any swearing, so it’ll eventually (probably) be recommended for 14-17 on Lexile, but I think 15 would be just about right. I always consider drug use of any kind to be mature material, unless there are definite and immediate consequences (which may not be realistic anyway, because sometimes in real life you can do drugs with no consequences, but I don’t like the idea of letting kids realize that, lol).
This book is definitely a character-driven book. There is plot, and it is woven beautifully throughout the POVs, but each person is distinctly different in their attitudes and personalities. Though there are a lot of POV shifts, and it CAN get confusing, once you figure out the players it comes together effortlessly. I truly enjoyed this book, and I’m thrilled to report that it is marked #1 underneath the title, thereby alluding to a sequel. This is good because this book does end openly. We do come full circle, but there’s enough of an open ending to suggest that McGee is not done putting these kids through the ringer. I’m eager to find out what happens to all of them next!
I give this book ★★★★★ because I was never bored. I was never tired of reading. I read while getting ready for work. I read in the car after work. I picked this book up constantly. And I think you will, too.