Devin Triano’s Letter-Essay #3: The Thousandth Floor

Not long ago, I finished reading The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, which is a 448-page science-fiction novel. Katharine McGee attended Princeton and received her MBA from Stanford. It was while living in New York City that she came up with the idea for this book.  

The Thousandth Floor is a New York Times bestselling book, and is the first in a trilogy. Ruined author, Amy Tintera, claims that this novel is, “Compelling and imaginative, from the fascinating vision of the future to the scandalous lives of the characters.” I agree with this statement completely because the book has such unique and exciting characters and setting that makes you want to read the whole book in one sitting. I have been dying to read this book for a long time, and I recently saw it in a bookstore while I was on vacation, so I had to buy it and start reading it immediately.

This book is unlike any other I’ve read because there are five main characters who all have different storylines. However, the one thing they have in common is that they live in a thousand story skyscraper in New York City, one-hundred years in the future. Our first character is Avery Fuller, resident of the thousandth floor, whose genes were handpicked by her parents to ensure her perfection. Even though Avery has tons of boys waiting in line to date her, the only one she cares for is the one she can never be with, so she has to decide whether to be rational and listen to her head or take a leap of faith and follow her heart. Also living upTower is Leda Cole who just wants this year to be normal, after a summer away recovering from an addiction to a dangerous drug. The only thing stopping her is an obsession with her best friend’s brother, and now she has to choose between her friendship and an unrequited relationship. Living below Leda on the 294th floor is Watt Bakradi, a master hacker and computer scientist. All Watt wants is to make enough money for his family, so he takes a well-paying hacking job from an upperfloor girl. What he didn’t expect, though, was to get tangled up in upperfloor scandals that he now has to find his way out of. Next, there’s Eris Dodd-Radson. Eris wishes she could reverse a past mistake to fix her family, but there’s no going back, so she has to adjust to living on the 103rd floor, without any high-tech amenities or money, as opposed to the 962nd floor. Lastly, living on the 32nd floor is Rylin Myers, who only wants to provide a good life for her little sister, but gets involved in a romance with a boy living on the 969th floor. She begins to see that this new life with her boyfriend may negatively impact her life down at the bottom of the Tower.

I’d compare the author, Katharine McGee, to Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval. I read this book last year, and I think that both authors have a talent for creating and describing setting. Caraval takes place on a magical island that inhabits a circus, and The Thousandth Floor takes place within a dazzling skyscraper. Although these two settings are very different, the way the authors describe them is similar. McGee describes the Tower on the back cover as, “A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible-if you want it enough.” This shows me that not only is this a building, it’s a building where the contents of your imagination can become reality. On the inside flap of Caraval, Garber writes, “Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world…”. This line also tells me that Caraval is unlike anything else in the world, it’s one of a kind and a place built for dreamers. As the reader transitions throughout the Tower or around the island, the authors have a way of describing everything so that it seems sparkly, brand-new, and intriguing. The settings of  The Thousandth Floor and Caraval are definitely my favorite aspect of both books.

I would say that the theme of this novel is to be grateful for what you have and be empathetic towards those who are less fortunate. The reason I say this is because this book has a clear division between the wealthy and the poor. Those who live on the upper floors learn throughout the book that all the luxuries they have can be easily taken away and that not everyone in the Tower is as fortunate as them. When Avery found out that her boyfriend lived on a lower floor, she was not judgemental and offered to do things that are less expensive. She even said, “That stuff doesn’t matter to me (p.289).” Living on the 103rd floor showed Eris that it’s possible to live a happy life, even without technology and money. These two girls have grown as people because of their exposure to other lifestyles, as opposed to Leda who only stays on upTower and is a more self-centered person than Eris and Avery.

The structure of this book is a different point of view in each chapter. It’s very difficult to write a multi-perspective book and make sure that each point of view is equally interesting, but McGee did a really great job making sure that all of the storylines and chapters are exciting and suspenseful. There was never a point where I got to one character’s chapter and thought that it was too boring to read. Every character is compelling and their lives are entirely diverse from each other. However, throughout the book the character’s lives overlap and we get to read about their interactions with each other. It’s very refreshing to read a book that’s not just told by one character every once in awhile.

I was struck by this passage in the prologue of the book. It goes:

“The sounds of laughter and music were dying down on the thousandth floor, the party breaking up by bits and pieces as even the rowdiest of guests finally stumbled into the elevators and down to their homes. The floor-to-ceiling windows were squares of velvety darkness, though in the distance the sun was quietly rising, the skyline turning ocher and pale pink and a soft, shimmering gold.

And then a scream cut abruptly through the silence as a girl fell toward the ground, her body falling ever faster through the cool predawn air.

In just three minutes, the girl would collide with the unforgiving cement of East Avenue. But now- her hair whipped up like a banner, the silk dress snapping around the curves of her body, her bright red mouth frozen in a perfect O of shock- now, in this instant, she was more beautiful than she had ever been (p.1)”.

What I found alluring about this passage is that it builds suspense and gives you something to keep in the back of your mind for the rest of the book. As I was reading, the story did not seem to be leading to a girl falling off the Tower, so I was always reading closely, looking for clues as to who the girl might be and what might be happening when this part takes place. One of my favorite writing techniques is starting a book with a glimpse of the ending. Another book that does that is Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. I feel that giving the reader an idea of where the book is going before they even start reading makes the book more suspenseful and causes you to be more eager to keep reading. The Thousandth Floor is a book that will hold your interest and keep you waiting on the edge of your seat until the end. I would give this book an 8 out of 10, and I highly recommend you read it if you are a lover of futuristic science-fiction novels.


Devin Triano

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1 thought on “Devin Triano’s Letter-Essay #3: The Thousandth Floor

  1. Great blog post, Devin, and a nicely-written letter-essay. I agree that the writing technique of providing the reader a glimpse of the end of the story is an effective one, and I can think of a lot of times I’ve started a piece of writing like that (I’ll actually give a lesson on that during our memoir unit). I’m wondering: how long of an elevator ride is it to the one-thousandth floor?

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