Review: THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS by Katharine McGee

Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 422
Release Date: August 29th, 2017
Series: THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR, Book 2
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked It!

WARNING: Light spoilers ahead for book one in the series, THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR. Haven’t read it?  You can find my review here!

32711705._sy475_A month ago, the upper floors of the Tower were rocked by the news that one of their own, a teenage girl, had plummeted to her death in a tragic accident.  But there were several people on the roof that night, and only one person responsible for pushing the girl to her death.  And that person has blackmail on everyone else to make sure they keep their stories straight and confirm the girl fell on her own.  Those teens are now trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on, but the guilt of what happened that night, and the weight of knowing their personal secrets could be revealed, is causing fractures in their relationships, and the more things spin out of control, the more the blackmailer tries to interfere in their lives. And into this maelstrom enters Calliope Brown, a teenage con artist who is looking for her new mark – and the messy lives of those on the upper floors provide targets that are ripe for the picking.

For better and for worse, THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS feels like the second season of a television show.  You know what I’m talking about: after you were hooked into the mystery of the first season, you come back to season two to watch the fallout and are greeted with another season trying to use the same gimmick as the first.  In THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS, all the familiar faces have returned (aside, obviously, from the murder victim) and they’re back for another round of drama and parties, and mayhem. And like the second season of a TV show, the author has decided to repeat the format that worked so well the first time: a girl will die at a party by the end of the book, but who and why?

The retread, however, lacks some of the punch of the first book (possibly because it IS a format retread).  I didn’t find myself as driven and compelled to figure out who was going to die.  In the THOUSANDTH FLOOR, for the last several chapters, there was a sense of separate storylines crashing together, with all kinds of tensions bubbling over, and you were waiting for the fatal moment with breathless anticipation.  This felt a little bit like “second verse, same as the first” down to the fact that the climax takes place at a party.  I still enjoyed the overall ride, but could have used a fresher approach to the finale.

As for the character drama, it was a bit of a mixed bag.  Newcomer Calliope is a great addition to the mix, playing on emotions and trying to read the room as she looks for a new boy to con out of a sizable pay day.  I was a bit disappointed that Mariel, who was introduced as a POV at the end of book one, did not get to be a recurring POV in the sequel. And unfortunately, I’m not hugely invested in the “forbidden” romance of adopted siblings Avery and Atlas (they’re not blood related, so I don’t have an issue with them being in love).  The way they go about like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet was enough to make me roll my eyes.  Thankfully, the other characters balance out the load.

I’ve focused a bit on the negatives in this review, but at the end of the day, I still enjoy this series and will be finishing with book three, THE TOWERING SKY, in the coming months.  This is my soapy guilty pleasure, made more palatable by the fact it takes place 100 years in the future and the rich and famous have parties at the bottom of the Hudson River, have machines to style their hair and text messages that display on their retinas.  It’s a great escape read, and if you like this kind of tale, it’s an entertaining book that will whisk you away for a few hours!

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