“Up here on the roof, so close to the stars, she felt young and alive and hateful.”
A hundred years into the future everybody has secrets, and even if they’ve got top of the range technology to protect them somehow they’re always come to light.
Avery was genetically engineered to be perfect, her life on the thousandth floor is the envy of everyone living in the Tower. She has the perfect face and body, the most amazing apartment and the perfect life. But she feels like she’s living a lie unable to be with the only boy she’s ever loved. She isn’t the only one swept into the lies that haunt the youth living the the New York Tower, Leda hides a secret addiction, Eris’s family is torn apart by a decades old betrayal, Rylin begins to lie to everyone she knows when she’s swept upTower for a job, and Watt knows everything about everyone because of the illegal quant in his brain.
They all become entangled in each other’s lives as they’re secrets come closer to the light that might just have dark consequences for them all.
Spoilers from now on.
The novel had an intriguing opening, a girl plummeting down to her death from the roof of a tower with thousand floors. Suddenly I wanted to know how she ended up there, was she pushed? Did she jump? Slip? And a novel is only as good as it’s hook, give me a good mystery and I’m there.
It also included some amazing sci-fi elements, the world that McGee builds is easy to become immersed in. I love the contacts as their way to communicate, and the humorous images it left of people’s gaze glazing over randomly in the middle of conversations, and that they have to speak commands to them to send messages, or “flickers”. Not very private but an intriguing idea. The Tower it’s self was an impressive feat, filled with different elements that were weaved into the story effortlessly; it’s better when this works in sci-fi novels so we’re not left behind wondering how things work.
To me the book quickly lost momentum after it’s dramatic opening. I didn’t connect with the characters instantly, they were all insipid, self-involved and annoying. Apart from Watt and Rylin who are both from downTower. Maybe this is why I connected with them faster than the others, I felt like they had more relatable problems. Avery and Leda just seemed obsessed with Atlas, their lives revolved around him, even their friendship suffered because of their feelings for him.
However, Avery grew on me throughout the novel, the fact that she wasn’t bothered about Eris having to move downTower or that Watt is lives on the 236th floor. She’s kind and sweet and loyal which truly redeemed her character for me, and I loved her interactions with Watt (secretly rooting for them even though I knew that the Atlas dilemma wouldn’t disappear). Leda definitely did not grow on me as she became more obsessive and erratic, though her development made her a good villain at the end of the novel as she twisted out of control. The way she manipulates the rest into lying to the police was a tense moment.
Eris grew on me too as her development took her from a vain, self-obsessed girl to someone who became caring, and ultimately very likable. I’m very bitter about what happened to her; I was praying throughout the novel for the fallen girl to not be Eris or Rylin… At least I got to keep one of them. But I do see that to lead on to the next novel everyone else had greater secrets for Leda to manipulate, which I can’t wait to see played out in the next novel (why must we always wait a year for new books?!).
The way the lives of the characters were linked was clever and led to a very tense build up as everything came to a head in the last 50 pages. I breezed through them as I had to know how it was all coming to an end, and I liked how our 5 protagonists were all drawn together; it rounded it off quite well. The multiple points of view worked, because sometimes it can become an issue, and there was not one character that I wasn’t bothered about reading from.
One thing that never sat well with me was Atlas. We know nothing about this guy and we never seem to learn anything throughout the novel. He is just the object of Avery and Leda’s affection and rivalry, and I felt nothing for him. He started off a little mysterious having previously disappeared from the Tower with no reason and told no one where he was going. Intriguing until it’s revealed it’s because he’s in love with Avery. Who, did I mention, is his sister? Adopted yes, but this still didn’t sit right with me, and their end scenes made me a little uncomfortable (I was with Watt on this one). But why does he love her? Why does Avery love him? We know nothing about their relationship other than how they feel. I wasn’t bothered about this story line, but bored and annoyed. I’m hoping Atlas is either developed in the next novel or hardly focused on at all. McGee does a brilliant job with all her other characters but Atlas seemed to be lacking even though he was the source of a major plot point.
Overall this novel turned into an enjoyable read, definitely one I’d recommend for people who are looking for a character driven, futuristic novel that doesn’t take place in some dystopian future. Lets just hope the next book is focused the characters that McGee was actually successful with.