I read the beginning of the blurb on NetGalley and decided this one was too intriguing to miss out on…
Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.
A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose. Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched. Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart. Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one? Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies. And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.
We’ve all seen the plot device on CSI – the episode starts with one of main characters in a burning building/being shot/another horrible situation, and then the narrative jumps back in time to lead up to that particular point… And this is exactly what McGee has done with her debut novel. The book opens with a beautiful young girl plummeting to her death from the top of the tallest building in New York – and then the narration jumps back two months to introduce us to a cast of characters whose lives intertwine in a variety of ways. And each time we revisit one of the girls, we wonder if this is going to be the victim.
It’s deftly done. There are five protagonists, each with their own chapter in third person viewpoint, advancing the plot and increasing the complexity. It could have ended up a mess, but McGee manages to keep the tension continually building with their loves, disasters and misjudgements adding to the potent mix, so that even by the night of the fateful party – even when a number of them are up on the roof, I still didn’t know until the denouement, exactly which of the girls was going to fall to her death.
If you are someone who makes a habit of turning to the end of a book to discover what will happen, then I’m not sure this one is for you. I had decided on at least three of the beautiful young woman and was wrong on every count. Given that I am not the target audience for this book, I feel McGee handles their crises very effectively. It would have been all too easy to turn this into an angst-ridden, over-emotional meltdown – and that doesn’t happen. I found myself sympathising with each one as we watched them plunge every deeper into a variety of problems – many not of their own making.
As a speculative fiction fan, I really enjoyed the futuristic spin put on this story. Set in the near future, this is more about the characters than the world, but the backdrop was convincingly done and I liked the direct metaphor – the wealthier and more successful your parents, the further up the tower you lived. All in all, this is a gripping and accomplished read – and while we certainly learn the identity of the hapless victim by the end, there are a number of plotpoints dangling, to make the next book one I’d like to get hold of.
I received an arc of The Thousandth Floor from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.