Futuristic version of Luxe with crazy teen drama

The Thousandth Floor - Katharine McGee

Take Luxe and push it a century or so forward instead of back, and you'll have a bit of a taste of this. Social drama in a futuristic setting that tends toward the teen drama/soap opera side of the equation.

 

It follows nearly a dozen teens, with more perspectives represented from the glamorous and wealthy upper tower area than the impoverished lower tower. A few romances, lots of family drama, some drug and hacking subplots . . . it should be a mess, but the storytelling craftsmanship on this thing is out of the world. It moves well and maintains tension, even while flipping from one pair of characters to another, building drama and tension along individual subplots, and bringing it all together for an almost painful ending and setup for the next book.

 

Lots of people behaving badly. Lots of empathy for experiences - it's amazing what a gentle touch McGee has with her cast of unruly teens, and that relatability and sympathy for their misery is part of what makes this readable. Some dramas in media step over into soapy melodrama or just become too unpleasant to bear, but this walks that line of overblown, incredibly tense conflict, and just enough human kindness to make it bearable.

A big potential sticking point for many readers, as per other reviews, is that yes, a main romance is between adoptive siblings. Other romances are Cinderella style (maid and playboy), hacker and princess, and lesbian/bi. Sexuality is frankly addressed, but not explicit, and language and violence are within fairly mild ranges. Worldbuilding is solid and detailed; the futuristic super-tower setting is appealing, plausible, and consistent.

 

Overall, an enjoyable read. I'm debating continuing on with the series. On the one hand, good book, good writing, good storytelling, and I'd be happy to spend more time in this story world. On the other hand, the drama's already ratcheted up to the point of borderline anxiety, and I'm not sure how much more I can take!