Review: The Thousandth Floor

4 out of 5 stars

Compulsively readable and gently futuristic, Katharine McGee pulls off an impressive feat: keeping teenagers from getting on my nerves! The Thousandth Floor, by Katharine McGee (The Thousandth Floor #1)

IMG-8654The first book in The Thousandth Floor trilogy introduces New York, 100 years into the future, a more modern and clever place with extended convenience that falls short of space-aged. This very realistic, common sense world-building could almost lull you into complacency. But sharp minds will find it sets the stage for a totally engaging story.

Avery Fuller is the richest of the rich, her family the sole inhabitants of the 1000th floor of what’s essentially the Empire State Building. Smack in the middle of NYC, it’s now a whole city unto itself. And Avery is it’s somewhat reluctant socialite princess. But this isn’t just her story.

The events of The Thousandth Floor churn like a teen soap opera. Crushes happen, families fall apart, wealth and social status rise and fall. But Magee manages to strip out the greedy, catty vein of poison so common among realistic fiction. That in itself is a wonder. Instead of being Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, The Thousandth Floor eschews the reality show vibe and actually tells a layered, thought-provoking and very satisfying story.

IMG-8655There’s bad-girl Leda, whose life is teetering atop a drug problem spiral. Life of the party Eris, whose life comes apart in a big, scary way. Avery is denied the only thing she cannot have. Whiz kid Watt is dangerously gaming the system. Struggling poor girl Rylin crosses a path that could lead her up-Tower, but what will she have to leave below?

Usually, money is the root of a plot’s evil, whether the writer intends it or not. Magee makes it one of many issues, and context for all. Only strong, truly sympathetic characters could pull this off. The Thousandth Floor is more likeable than any story about obscenely rich kids has a right to be – and more than I can imagine any such kids actually being.

The book ends with the same flashback from page one: a girl falling from the Tower. Once I knew who, and how and why, I was already reaching for the next installment.

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