The Thousandth Floor was an impossibly imaginative idea. In twenty-second century Manhattan, a tower two and a half miles high rises into the sky harboring the lives of several teenagers, who have, despite their differing social and economic statuses, become intertwined in a complicated web that turns deadly.
I’m just going to get right to it–I did not like this book.
Like I said, the idea was imaginative, glittering, I only hoped it would be as awe-inspiring as the cover. Unfortunately, the story fell flat.
Told from five different points of view, The Thousandth Floor lost me early on. The biggest issue for me, which revealed itself quickly, lied in the characterization. I didn’t relate to any of the characters. And beyond that, they all sort of blended into each other. The boys talked like girls, the parents talked like teens, the girls, no matter where they fell in the tower–higher floors signifying significant wealth, lower floors housing the poor–all seemed to exist in the same mindset.
As the book introduced you to a new character, you had the thought that you understood this character, only to get back into her story three or four chapters later to discover she’s a completely different person doing things you never thought she would do. I don’t mind characters not meeting your expectations in most cases, but in this case, because there were so many stories to keep track of, I wanted the characters to feel a certain way, to stay in their mold through and through, and I never felt as though they did.
It was in their behaviors where flaws in characterization materialized. Rylin didn’t act like Rylin as the book neared the end. Eris almost randomly decided she liked women–I’m not sure if that was something meant to signify the future landscape as one of more acceptance, where dating boys and girls is the same thing, but it still felt like an abrupt transition to me, as there was no leading up to it, no skeptical moments where I asked myself, “is she?” Watt went from liking Avery to hating Avery to liking Avery again for no apparent reason. Atlas was completely different by the book’s end. Cord was supposedly this player until he just decided he was in love with Rylin, though none of us know why he liked her, as she was from downtower, and didn’t really treat him any differently than the other countless women he SUPPOSEDLY cast aside. Leda was obsessed with Atlas for some unknown reason, and got totally psycho for another completely unknown reason. The only character–who wasn’t really a character but a computer–with some semblance of consistency was Watt’s quant, Nadia, who lived in a computer chip in his brain and fed him information about the people around him with the occasional addition of some bright sarcasm.
Do you see what I’m saying? There was such a disconnect in these characters’ mannerisms. I couldn’t keep myself invested no matter what I did. I just didn’t care.
Not to mention, everybody had a romantic relationship of some sort. I felt it kind of unrealistic. Even in Gossip Girl–which this novel has been widely considered as a futuristic retelling of (I could not agree less)–there are aspects of simple friendship. The only person who had any concern for her friends was Avery. Out of all of them, she was the only one.
The one thing I can say for this novel is the writing was good. It was consistent. The dialogue had some cliche moments, but not many when you consider the page count is over 450. I did struggle to paint settings in my head. I couldn’t see a lot of the things she described. But, it would’ve been a massive feat to bring clarity to an idea as grandiose as this one. There were a lot of holes in their stories you had to fill, and, sadly, story holes are one my biggest pet peeves. It makes your reader feel like they forgot something, when in actuality, you’re mentioning it for the first time and just expecting us to assume it was also there in the past.
Cool futuristic elements though. Personal favorites: grapefruit m&ms and the tiki bar with the sun that sets in perpetuity. Again, it was certainly imaginative.