THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR is a sleek, smart, guilty pleasure. The opening chapter begins with an unnamed girl falling to her death from a skyscraper in 22nTHE THOUSANDTH FLOOR is a sleek, smart, guilty pleasure. The opening chapter begins with an unnamed girl falling to her death from a skyscraper in 22nd century New York, and the questions of "who" and "why" are ever-present as this thriller unfolds. The major raised eyebrow comes from the main character's love for her adopted brother, which sits rather uncomfortably for YA and in this context; but despite a few reservations, this story is surprisingly well-written and enjoyable.
-- super, super fun world-building. This is a mystery/thriller in a futuristic setting, with cool tech that feels organic to the story and the way the characters would use them. In addition to stuff you might expect, such as smart contacts with Google-glasses-type capabilities, there are imaginative touches like gummy bears with nano chips installed that make them move (and scream!), floating alcohol bubbles you drink from a straw, enviable closets and immersive shopping experiences, a boy with a frighteningly intuitive computer linked to his brain, and so much more. It's all incredibly well-thought-out, and none of it is there purely as set decoration.
-- 5 distinct POVs, each of which add significantly to the plot. I'm the first person to complain about excessive and superfluous narrators, but you truly couldn't have lost one of these without changing the story. They're all well done, and all make you understand and sympathize with the characters' motivations, even when they're at odds with each other. One of the POVs is a teenage hacker's, and the description of how he infiltrates systems and uses information to his advantage is fascinating.
-- realistic, layered friendships, especially between the girls. Affection, history, competition, and jealousy all come into play.
-- There are major underlying themes exploring class division and privilege that I didn't expect. The towering, 1000-floor Manhattan building these kids live in is almost its own character, and the author skillfully and convincingly portrays the glittering lifestyle and mindset of the wealthy uptower kids and contrasting POVs without turning them all into cliches, or hammering readers with specific agendas and lessons.
-- this future world is matter-of-factly diverse, with many persons of color, as well as LGBTQ characters.
-- adults take a back seat here and maybe could have been developed a bit more, but they're not merely token presences; there are interesting subplots that happen with them.
Stuff I wish had been better:
-- Avery is in love with her adopted brother. It's not handled in an icky way, but romanticizing incest for young readers is something that does concern me, particularly when it involves kids who were mostly raised and grew up together. It's less of an issue for me in other situations--dire ones like Forbidden come to mind--but here, the single-mindedness and focus on this romance would make me less inclined to recommend this for younger teenagers, especially since the connection between the two of them isn't as well-developed as it could be. Atlas is kind of a pleasant but oblique non-entity; Avery, despite her genetic perfection, is much more interesting.
-- I really, really wish (view spoiler)[the girl who is killed isn't the bisexual one. With all the "kill your gays" issues of late, (hide spoiler)] I think increased mindfulness and sensitivity to this trope is necessary.
-- I'm not sure this needed a sequel, since I think the story would have more of an impact if it had stuck the ending. But I enjoyed this so much, I'll definitely be picking up book two!
This was longer than I intended, but since there are so many mixed/negative reviews I thought a countering opinion might be useful. Despite a couple of not-insignificant issues, I think this one has a lot going for it, and I liked that it wasn't a typical fast-paced, action-heavy thriller, but more of a character-driven story with a futuristic setting. I was completely engrossed as I went down all the rabbit holes of the plot, and the future tech is so freaking cool. Damn, it's fun to live and play in this world, even if it's just for a little while....more