The Thousandth Floor | Thoughts
"Eris walked down the hallway at school, automatically nodding at or ignoring people based on whether she liked the way they looked, keeping her expression as icily calm and unflappable as ever."
That's an actual quote from the book. From the perspective of a character with whom (I think) we're supposed to sympathize. I forced myself through this, when normally it would have been an abandon-ship, just so I could give it that 1 star. I'd been hearing about this for a year now, and I'm not sure if I just didn't take the "futuristic Gossip-Girl" theme seriously, or if I truly thought it would contain a substantial story, but either way it's safe to say I really disliked The Thousandth Floor. Let's dive in, and I'll try not to be too hard, just lay out my issues.
The futuristic setting is neat, with a thousand-story tower containing all of New York City in 2118. The elite reside on the upper floors, and possess technology such as contacts that work as cell-phones, capable of messaging people with nods and shakes of your head. There are hover crafts and trains that travel to Europe in a few short hours under the sea, as well as all the new kinds of drugs that we can imagine would evolve with the world. Although futuristic settings are not my usual cup of tea, I thought much of the technology and thought behind the layout of the tower was interesting. Oddly enough, it was the aspects that hadn't changed 100 years in the future that bugged me, most prominently the fact that genius computer engineer students were still grappling with the early 21st century problem of affording college. Something about that did not fit in with the story at all; we are already moving towards solutions to that very problem today, so how the hell is it believable that a guy who built a freaking illegal quantum computer and stored it inside his head is worrying over how to afford MIT in 2118? It's not.
I'm just going to say it plain; all the characters were awful. The only one with whom I remotely sympathized was Rylin, although that is likely because she was one of the outsiders who served the elite and had one of them fall for her. She was my Dan Humphrey. But as far as any kind of developmental journeys I like to take with my characters, there were none. Every point of view hindered on who was sleeping with who, who got wasted at what party, what vacation and where. Lifetime friends turned against one another with little more cause than a blink of an eye (which could be just a blink, or sending a complex text message in this world). It's easy to spot the character we're supposed to take as the villain, but even the ones we're supposed to cheer for were so vapid and one-dimensional I couldn't form an attachment to any of them.
All right, the themes. There were a lot, and I'm going to go off on a tangent on just two. First, the romance. It became clear early on that each character is only concerned with the romantic elements of their lives, and that there would be nothing more to look forward to with each POV change. Fine, whatever. But the main romance we're (supposed to) be excited for? Is for a sister hooking up with her brother. Avery and Atlas are not blood related, sure, but they grew up alongside one another in the same household, with the same parents, in bedrooms right across from each other, and I just can't get excited over a girl having the hots for her brother. Ever. If this had been one of the lesser POVs, and not the main romance, I may have not minded it so much. It's not full on Jaime and Cersei Lannister (which is a story aspect I don't mind because their romance is, safe to say, not at the forefront of a Game of Thrones' plot line), but nevertheless, the moments when Avery and Atlas finally hook up and are laying on their couch talking about how they'll have to hide this from their parents...uck. Just uck. No thanks. Call me crazy, but the romantic elements are supposed to have readers excited for the characters, butterflies and all if the author is good at conveying the moment well...but in no circumstance would I say cringing is a reaction you want your readers to have at your kissy-kissy scenes. If only Rylin and Cord had taken on the the main character roles -- it would have been a romance story we've seen a thousand times, but at least it's not cringe-inducing.
Next theme I want to viciously attack is familial relationships, particularly the events that unfold around Eris. *SPOILER NOTICE* The first introduction we get with Eris' father we meet a kind, good-hearted man who clearly adores his wife and daughter. So you expect it to be believable that when he finds out his wife cheated, and that Eris is not his blood daughter, he just cuts them both out? No. Freaking. Way. Even though we only met him for a brief few pages before this twist occurs, his character was set up to be the complete opposite of someone who would do this. Kick his wife out, sure. Not want to speak to her, absolutely. But kick the child he raised for 17 years out because of a mistake his wife made? Absolutely not. I didn't believe it for a second, and it was poor character development to suddenly have him change his nature and disown his daughter. Eris is a right bitch, and I hated her character only slightly less than Leda, but no way would the laughing, loving father of the beginning suddenly morph into the cold and hateful man that turns Eris away and "just needs time." *YOU'RE SAFE*
Aside from my issues with the characters and themes, technically The Thousandth Floor had no major faults. Writing was mediocre for me, but I found no editing issues, aside from the major lack of plot. Aside from the curiosity of which girl fell off the tower in the prologue, the story had no major goal it was working towards, no smaller goals for each character. Unless you want to call scoring with your brother an accomplishment, or successfully stalking the boy you like until you learn his deepest secret.
On a final note, I'd like to add that I loved Gossip Girl, but I suppose I look for a lot more meat in my novels than I do in my guilty-pleasure shows.