Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “High-Rise” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.67  ·  Rating details ·  16,660 Ratings  ·  1,639 Reviews

When a class war erupts inside a luxurious apartment block, modern elevators become violent battlegrounds and cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on “enemy” floors. In this visionary tale, human society slips into violent reverse as once-peaceful residents, driven by primal urges, re-create a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.

Hardcover, 204 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by Holt McDougal (first published 1975)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about High-Rise, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Il Filostrato Speculative science fiction mixed with social satire as was much of Ballard's more well-known works. The term 'science fiction' is a many-headed…moreSpeculative science fiction mixed with social satire as was much of Ballard's more well-known works. The term 'science fiction' is a many-headed beast. I wouldn't call it 'futuristic' because it's purpose is to reevaluate modernity, not the future. High-Rise is a work of enduring relevance because convenience is dependent on that which is outside the individual and self-sufficiency makes demands of the individual. The high-rise has the illusion of both. This is its vanity and the vanity of all of its residents too ignorant or too arrogant to acknowledge it. Volatile.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
"A low crime-rate doctor," she told him amiably, "is a sure sign of social deprivation."

Anthony Royal built the Titanic of skyscrapers.


A state of the art, megalithic structure suitable for 2,000 tenants. It is a self-contained environment with everything a tenant would need such as shopping or exercise or even schools for their kids. The people the building attracts are white collar, well educated, professionals. The apartments sell out quickly and as everyone start to settle into their new li
mark monday

Luxury Living - To Die For!

Our extra-ordinary apartment complex is a full-service microcosm and so offers all the comforting amenities and thrilling excitements of the modern world - in one lavish locale. Imagine never having to step foot outside again! Whether your interests include swimming, shopping, the education of youngsters, simply lounging about without a care... or even more outré amusements such as rape, murder, incest, cannibalism, and the creating of
As I was walking along the aisles of the bookstore, I suddenly heard a little raspy voice, coming from one of the shelves.

"Psst, four-eyes! Over here!"


It was J.G. Ballard's novel, "High-Rise" , talking to me.

"Don't you look like a jolly chap! All happy and stuff. Not a worry in the world. And so decent! Why are you so goddamn decent all the time?"

"Huh? Are you supposed to be talking?"

"I do whatever I damn well please! Tell me, you look like the kind of goody two shoes who actually LI
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of New Wave SF, Subtle Dystopias
Posted at Heradas Review

A disturbing/enthralling allegory - class struggle, self deception, and the animalistic brutality concealed just below the surface of human civilization.

I knew of Ballard from the new-wave SF of the late 60s / early 70s, particularly Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions compilations, wherein he's described - by Ellison in his story introduction - as one of the few mainstream lit crossovers coming from the world of speculative fiction. He is an eloquently gifted writer, str
Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.
This is one instance where I'm painfully aware of the inadequacy of a star-rating system for books. To give Ballard's High-Rise three stars does very little to capture its strengths, but more importantly, its ultimate failure as a novel. I'm going to try and do that in my review here, but just in case my ramblin
Ahmad Sharabiani
331. High Rise, J.G. Ballard (James Graham Ballard)
(برج - جی.جی. بالارد (چشمه
عنوان: برج: نویسنده: جیمز گراهام بالارد؛ مترجم: علی اصغر بهرامی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1380، در 284 ص؛ شابک: 9789643620172؛ چاپ سوم بهار 1388؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 20 م
برج یکی از آثار کلاسیک علمی تخیلی پسا رستاخیزی، و پاد آرمانشهری محسوب میشود. داستان این رمان در یک برج بسیار مدرن و لوکس روی میدهد برجی که به گونه ای طراحی شده تا همه ی نیازهای ساکنان خویش را برآورده، و به نوعی آنها را از دنیای بیرون از برج م
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

High-Rise is not an easy novel to fit into a specific genre. It's not exacly science-fiction because the time frame is contemporary England (cca. 1975). Yet the novel does try to use a scientific approach to the study of human behaviour - psychology. So, I guess you can call it 'soft' SF. You can also call it a dystopian novel, a horror novel or a thriller, but for me the best description is as an adult, x-rated version of "Lord of the Flies"

Now the new order had emerged, in which all l
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read all of his short stories some time ago, I’ve finally decided to check out his full length novels. His short stories are famous for being vivid and imaginative, not to mention incredibly prophetic, but let me say that this book is like nothing I've read before (perhaps Saramago emulates in “Blindness” the mass hysteria of a people left to fend for themselves [or who prefer it that way] in a similar way… it has some traces of “Lord of the Flies” [and Margaret Atwood definitely owes him ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Oh J.G. Ballard. I just don't think we are meant to be friends.

Other than Crash, High-Rise is the only other thing that I have ever been interested in reading by Ballard. I saw the film adaptation with Tom Hiddleston, which I enjoyed (although felt it was a little style over substance), so when I saw that the audiobook was narrated by Hiddleston himself, I decided to try Ballard again in a slightly different form.

Hiddleston is a great narrator, and even employs different accents in his reading w
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I haven't read much Ballard so I don't feel like I've read this book by him before. Apparently, this is a kind of common theme with him. Affluent people turning savage in the modern world.

Any book that promises rich people acting all Lord of the Flies on one another is going to catch my interest. And this one caught my attention and was pretty successful at holding it.

The book takes place in a 1960's/70's version of a state of the art high rise apartment complex. It's an almost totally self-co
High-Rise: Lord of the Flies in an urban luxury high-rise
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
MOVIE UPDATE: I finally got around to watching the 2015 film version of High Rise, directly by Ben Wheatley and starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Siena Miller, Luke Evans, and Elizabeth Moss. How to assess? Well, it is a valiant attempt to replicate Ballard's bizarre and surrealistic story of social elites battling the lower classes in a fancy new high-rise and willfully descending into barbarism
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
A forty storey high-rise apartment building stands surrounded only by it's tenants' parking spaces and then, other soon to be completed forty storey high-rise apartment buildings.

All is well, initially, as the building fills up with tenants who only need to leave to go to work - the building itself has gyms, swimming pools, supermarkets, hairdressers, restaurants and other shops and services. Soon after the last apartment is occupied, however, things take a strange turn. Services such as elevato
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating social commentary set in a new and luxurious high-rise complex in London.

Petty conflicts between the different floors escalate alarmingly quickly to extreme levels.

We are following three main characters from each of the different classes/floors who represent their peers (grouped by job status). Each character does have his own personality and is not a complete slave to his class stereotype - the individual experiences are just as interesting as the the whole social picture.

The violen
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Alternative title: "THIS is why we can't have nice things"

Okay, having collected my thoughts, here are the points I think worth mentioning.

*I loved the book. Just fucking LOVED the book. As in, "I will read everything this author ever wrote" loved the book. My first impression was that this is Lord of the Flies for adults. I enjoyed this a lot more than I did Golding's book.

From here on out, the whole thing is pretty much one big spoiler. S
I realize that this book was written in 1976 - which can possibly explain some of the reasons why I take it to task. With that said...


We open on the balcony of one Robert Laing, who is noshing on a partially eaten dog and thinking with wonder about the events of the past months which have brought him to his current situation.

Not a bad way to begin a book. I'm down.

As the story unfolds, we are introduced to the High Rise - an ultra-modern luxury apartment building, 40 stories
High Rise is a horrific novel, published in 1975, about a building that begins to have a strange hold over its residents. The high rise is a virtual vertical city, with the higher levels representing higher social class status. The building has it’s own school, restaurants, pools, grocery store. The only reason for its’ residents to leave is to go to work. The residents begin to throw louder and wilder parties and begin leaving the building less and less often to go to work. Often if they do go, ...more
Apr 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dont-like, 2016, uk
I dont understand the hype with this book.
I didn't like it at all.
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mapping-the-city
Good concept: to explore social disintegration as facilitated by - and contained within - a high rise building. The internal collapse of its occupants' morality, and grip on reality, is skilfully mapped within the structure.

But I had issues with the book: firstly, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the women in this text (vulnerable wives open to sexual assault, passive victims, evil witch-like figures, Freudian-destructive mothers - not a single woman written on an even level with the men),
Anthony Vacca
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dark mirror of the human psyche conjured with prose so crisp that every sentence on the page crackles like a downed power line spewing high voltage. Ballard's mistrust of technology and humanity is so alluring that I couldn't help but find it all very logical that the occupants of a state-of-the-art high-rise would lose their shit in a serious way, form clans and wage war with other floors, and eventually go completely feral. As far as I am concerned, in every human heart stands a forty-story ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need to think about this one. Is it well written. YES . Might it be a story ahead of it's time, perhaps. Is this science fiction? Horror? Literature? I think it is all of them. Did I like it? I don't know. Some things bothered me.

I just deleted 50 sentences of rambling.Not ready to write this.

Six hours later: I know what bother's me. This is not about a general societal collapse. Funny, that I can handle. This is something more insidious. This is a group, a collective, who all deliberately ch
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, yes, it's just Lord of the Flies in an apartment building. But the apartment building aspect is an important aspect, more than enough to distinguish these two works from each other. Let me see if I can explain why.

I wish I'd read this before moving into the house that I first moved into when I arrived in Boulder, because of how eerily accurate some of the events of the first half of the book are. The house I moved into was a big old ramshackle ranch-style house, with three bedrooms on the g
"In a sense life in the high-rise had begun to resemble the world outside - there were the same ruthlessness and aggression concealed within a set of polite conventions."

Why me ??!! :(
I see all these positive ratings and it makes me despondent to realise that, I probably read this book all definitely a case of its not you but me. I understand that the basic premise of the book was decay of any given society from within. (I vaguely recall reading in school about theories of decline of
4 and a half stars.

If you took "The Lord of the Flies" and "A Clockwork Orange" and threw them together in a blender, you would get a book that would be a lot like "High-Rise": creepy, over the top, disturbingly plausible in some ways, really infuriating in others. Basically, you'd get something weirdly fascinating, which will understandably not be everyone's cup of tea. I suppose I like my tea dystopian and gross, because I loved it!

I'm pretty sure that no one ever accused J.G. Ballard of being
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent, disturbing and visionary novel which shows Ballard on absolute top form. The residents of a tower block – the ‘High Rise’ of the title’ – find that within the building’s confines, society begins to crumble and their notion of humanity becomes more and more feral. At the beginning this takes the form of petty disputes, but soon the residents of each floor form themselves into packs and battle for control of the lifts and stairwells, and even launch raids onto other levels. A ...more
Jeff Jackson
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-2
-Read this with a few friends. Interestingly, a fellow writer thought it was unspeakably awful, complaining about the "poor characterization," "unliterary language," and "unrealistic plot." Which reminds me of... Tom McCarthy on JG Ballard: "I think the guy was a genius. He was the only contemporary British writer that interested me or had any kind of influence on my work. The thing about Ballard is that he’s a great writer without being a good writer. I mean he’s not Nabokov or Updike. He doesn ...more
"Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months."
Let's face it, when you have a character calmly eating a dog on a balcony, some serious social norms have broken down.

On the surface High-Rise is about the breakdown of social order in a modern high-rise apartment. As the building functions break down (trash disposal, water, power, etc.) so too do the social
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
It sometimes happens, that my suspension fails and so my disbelief prevails, unchecked. I realise that it then becomes MY failure, rather than the authors, to attribute a signifier of connoissaince. Thus it happened here: I tried and tried, but ‘I’ve giv’n it all shes got Captain, an’ I canna give her no more’.

Two thousand residents in an expensive high rise in London ‘short circuit’ and turn feral. As to what shenanigans they get up to: nobody explains it better than Mark in his wonderful revie
J.G. Ballard’s dystopian novel High Rise opens with one of the more memorable first sentences I’ve encountered in contemporary fiction:

“Later, as he sat on the balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous months.”

The novel essentially starts at its ending. But Laing does have a story to tell. What starts out as some minor vandalism between the floor inhabitants, escalates into violence, murde
MJ Nicholls
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These Flamingo Modern Classic reprints of Ballard books are an annoyance: they are stuffed with extraneous extra material of a facile internetty nature. Read this next! If you liked this, read this next! This book is also a film! Wow! Isn't that great! Buy the film now! Read this boring interview!

Of all the new modern classic editions I've read, Ballard's book get the biggest advertising shunt. Probably because Ballard was never anti-capitalist as such: he seemed to delight in the digitisation o
Fábio Martins
Terminada a leitura,que decorreu em ritmo compulsivo, apetece-me dizer que este é um pequeno livro extenso demais.
A premissa de J.G Ballard é eficaz,directa e prontamente servida aos leitores. Somos rapidamente colocados no contexto emocional do livro, e o primeiro grande triunfo é a forma como afectivamente somos enquadrados no pulso certo do livro. Não quero,nesta revisão ( como em nenhuma) revelar demais do conteúdo da obra,mas torna-se difícil evitar em absoluto algumas leituras e interpreta
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Chocky
  • J.G. Ballard (RE/Search #8/9)
  • The Penultimate Truth
  • Dead Babies
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2)
  • Limbo
  • The Room
  • How the Dead Live
  • 334
  • The Final Programme
  • The Embedding
  • Ice
  • The Paradox Men
  • The Unreasoning Mask
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Heroes and Villains
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • Drowning Towers
James Graham "J. G." Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) novels such as The Drowned World (1962), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966). In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ballard focused on a ...more
More about J.G. Ballard...
“They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never dissapointed.” 40 likes
“Let the psychotics take over. They alone understood what was happening.” 23 likes
More quotes…