The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee // Amanda // First Read Review


Hello loves, it’s Amanda! I just finished The Thousandth Floor a few days ago, and I definitely needed that time to decompress and breathe a little. And time to distract my brain with some Sarah J. Maas. 😄 I am so excited to write down all of my thoughts and compress all my notes here for you. There is a lot to chat about!

Do you like The Great Gatsby? Then you’ll seriously love The Thousandth Floor! Seriously. The similarities are kind of shocking in my emotional journey through both of these books. They both are full of bright parties, futuristic points of view, and that empty shallow feel from the beginning to the end. But personally, the classic brilliance that is The Great Gatsby doesn’t go as far as The Thousandth Floor. It hits home in so many different ways that felt so real to me, even if this book is set in a wild, futuristic New York.

The Thousandth Floor is set in a massive, tall tower in the future of New York City. Each floor is filled with everything the occupants need – high school, shopping, parks, stores, and homes in every shape and size. The upper floors reflect the expensive, tech-filled lives of the most luxurious living, and the lower floors house those dingy, cheap apartments we all were afraid we would have to live in while struggling through with college debt. The differences are most completely shown in the occupants’ identities. Everyone works their whole lives to move “up the tower” to a better life and future.

Right away, this political statement calls into evident focus the life of a city and the American dream. Don’t we all want that penthouse apartment of the 1000th floor? With the best tech and the craziest parties? Wouldn’t we be happiest then?

A (mostly) broad cast of characters features three best friends from the highest heights of the tower. They party, do drugs, drink the floating champagne bubbles of their parent’s wealth and thoroughly enjoy themselves, and each other’s friendship. As we all do in high school, they only care for the now. The quickly moving, highly fragile, totally shallow world of cute clothes, one night stands, and raucous parties. Two other main characters live low on the tower, working endless hours to take care of their families and themselves. There are also some side characters who pop up every once in a while to fully solidify the stereotypes of the floors they represent. Yes, definite stereotypes.

This book definitely is all about the contrast between high and low, rich and poor. There is no sense of normalcy or the hum drum rush of day to day life. This is all about the flash of cash and the drama of over-exaggerated friendships and relationships.

Setting: This city in a tower is an incredible setting for the glamorous, fashionable lives of this futuristic New York’s finest, as well as those who work hard to even pay their rent every month. Though a little on the nose, using the floors of the tower to reflect each character’s entire identity really does demonstrate how much your income and money determine your lifestyle. If your parents can afford the tallest penthouse in the tower, why not spend their money on anything you can to try to make yourself happy. Those who live on the upper floors don’t even think about how they spend money, they just do. It’s part of their lives.

Though this book was definitely focused on the main characters, I found myself wishing there was a little more setting and description of the tower, since it is such a great “city landscaping” idea. As an interior designer, architecture and furniture are things I love to obsess over! I wish I had a mental visual of the 1000th floor penthouse, the high school they go to, or even the parks they walk through. Selfish, I know!

Characters: I really did enjoy the lives of the many characters that The Thousandth Floor. Though they felt nothing close to genuine or real, they truly care about each other and their friendship. Well… they do for the whole first half of the book. The second half, each character relentlessly pursues what matters most to them, and their lives and friendships dissolve into the chaos and lust of selfish ambition.

That transition for most of the characters feels long in coming though. There is a huge build up of drama, secret keeping, and grudge holding. In my personal life, I care oh, so much about keeping my relationships honest and “open concept.” It hurts my heart to even read about these girls who are too selfish to even talk to each other about the big life stuff. Because that’s when we need the most support!

These characters are – in the end – exaggerations of “real people.” Because of the excessive wealth of the upper floors and the overemphasized poverty of the lower floors, I felt like the characters fit the setting. That being said, no one I know in the real world would act the way these girls treat each other, respond the way they do, or care about the same things.

Just as a final note, I did feel there was some racial stereotyping as well as stereotyping based on sexualization. She “sleeps around a lot,” she “is still a virgin.” And though it doesn’t impact the story all that much, I think it detracted from my reading experience. But, I mean, the genetically designed perfect girl is as white as it comes. Just saying.

Love: I just need to say, most (not all, but most) of the “love” in this book is deep-seated obsession or lust — not real love. As a newly married, young gal, I care a lot how I think about love. Falling in love with your brother (I don’t care if he is adopted) just means you’re not doing love right.

Family: Family is a concept that is floating somewhere in the background of this story, and though it isn’t directly hit upon, it feels important in its own right. One family absolutely falls apart when the hard truth comes out. A father would prefer to pay off his illegitimate daughter than have the truth come out. The girls of the upper floor just see their family as another piece of their lives, taking their money and love for granted. The main character is literally in love with her brother. There are so many twisted, wrong versions of family here. So many sad, broken evidences of how bad decisions and selfish living drown not just yourself but everyone along with you.

That seems to be the deeply hidden moral of this story. Selfish lives are shallow. Without thinking about anyone else, you can easily drag not only a whole friend group, but whole families, a whole tower down with you. You impact many people with your actions, and secrets eat away at you until you can’t help but do something you’ll regret. Everyone regrets something in this book. Has something they don’t want others knowing about. Secrets are currency, and control is everything else.

Though I won’t be up for reading anything this shallow and petty for a while, the wild ride that was The Thousandth Floor sucked me into its world and drew me into the lives of the characters. Beginning the book with the startling image of a girl falling a thousand stories to her death gives you a good sense of where this book is headed.

Let’s just say that I will definitely be reading the second book, The Dazzling Heights (Thousandth Floor) after I take a little break from the drama. For the justice. For JUSTICE!

Thanks for reading loves!

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