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1001 book reviews > High Rise by J.G. Ballard

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message 1: by Diane (last edited Jul 14, 2016 11:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 2051 comments Rating: 4 Stars
Read: July 2016

This is a dystopian novel that is a lot like an adult version of Lord of the Flies, taking place in a London condominium instead of an island. The setting is a huge 40-story luxury high-rise filled with middle to upper class residents (the more money you have, the higher the floor, since it is symbolic of social class stratification). The building has supermarkets, pools, restaurants, and pretty much everything you need - there is no reason to leave. Things soon start going wrong in this utopian paradise and the community begins to break down.

Definitely something different. You may not want to read it if you are a dog lover.

Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 480 comments A new apartment complex goes up in London, geared towards class-minded middle-class people who seem perfectly ordinary. Then things start going peculiar in one building of this complex as residents of different floors square off against each other in escalating skirmishes over access to the pool, pet policies, and other issues that tend to come up in apartment complexes. As tension builds, the residents of this high-rise divide into warring factions and their quality of life slides quickly into barbarism. From the perspectives of three key men in this development the story is a bit like an adult form of Lord of the Flies, or a post-apocalyptic survival story. Inside the building conditions are at least as bad as in a war-torn ghetto, with no food, no running water, no sanitation, and total anarchy. And somehow the residents manage to convince the police and any other London authorities not to look too closely or interfere, even when things turn very deadly.
This is an odd book, entertaining and thought provoking, and in interesting (and accurate???) portrayal of some men's private fantasies, the sort that seem to play out during civil unrest all over the world. I love that the women in this book, despite being targeted by the men in all sorts of ways, are to some extent able to eventually rise above the anarchy and create their own practical and orderly society.
I kept wishing to see the scene where the police would finally get involved, or social services or something, but even without reconnecting the apartment building with the reality of the city they happen to reside in still, this was a good story. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.

Kristel (kristelh) | 4210 comments Mod
This book was published in 1975 and is considered science fiction. I previously read Crash by the author which was awful. This book carries some of the same themes of buildings and architecture that influences humanity. The high-rise is a place where people have come to live in is many floors that I developed to meet all their needs. It becomes a world of its own removed from the outside world. The 3 main characters, all men, represent the layers of society are Richard Wilder, second floor, Dr. Robert Laing, 25th floor, and Anthony Royal, one of the architects and owner of the high-rise who lives at the top. The lower, middle, and upper floors start identifying and separate groups and slowly the groups become more and more divided, social restraints are ignored, and violence increases. The women characters are secondary characters there for the men. They are degraded and mistreated. There is a lot of animal cruelty. Violence becomes the unifying glue for the various groups forming in the high-rise. This rings quite true considering the current atmosphere of rioters set on destroying society. So while I don't like the violence in Ballard's book it does look at social structure, the influence of architecture and technology on society.

Book Wormy | 2061 comments Mod
3 Stars – an interesting take on the dystopian novel and much easier to read that the truly awful Crash by this author.

Having previously read Super-Cannes by the same author I recognised several of the key themes those of architecture and its impact on people and landscape; class divide as well as the idea that isolated communities develop or should that be regress into primitive societies in which survival of the fittest becomes the norm and morality is thrown out the window.

The High Rise provides everything the residents need in fact apart from the few who work outside the building (white collar workers, the blue collar workers live in) there is no need to ever leave the building. This is all great while things are going smoothly but when the building itself starts to fail (broken elevators, waste disposals and power cuts) those inside begin to feel like prisoners and to resent those whose facilities are still working.

The High Rise reflects wider society in that fact that people begin to fall into 3 distinct social categories The Lower Floors (Working class) The Middle Floors (Middle class) and the exclusive Upper Floors (Upper class) the higher you live the better your social standing and the facilities available.

Told through the eyes of 3 men who inhabit the different social levels in the building the reader watches as simple everyday annoyances escalate to full out violence as the internal society breaks down. Meanwhile the world outside carries on obliviously.

I found the ending to be interesting with what it seems to be implying about our move from individual living to the life of the high rise…

Warning this book contains most triggers you can think of.

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