The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a book I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for. I thought The Thousandth Floor was fantastic but with that cliffhanger at the end I really needed this, the second book, as soon as possible and it really doesn’t disappoint.
All of the things I loved about the first book are there but now that a lot of the world building is out of the way the focus is much more on the characters and story. There’s yet another fantastic hook at the start to keep you reading and more twists and turns than a twisty turny thing. The highlight for me though was definitely the development of the characters and their relationships. Now the wait is on for book three.
I should add a warning here that as this is the second book in the series there are spoilers from here on in for book one so if you haven’t read it go do that or have a read at my review.
All that glitters is not gold.
New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…
Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.
Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?
When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.
Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.
And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.
But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.
Yet again this book kicks off with a killer hook, there’s a body in the water. Did they drown or just happen to end up there? Was it an accident, was it deliberate or was it murder? Most important of all, who is it? With a beginning like that it’s very difficult to walk away from this story and, even though the author did exactly the same in the first book, I found myself unable to put it down until I got answers.
Unfortunately it’s a long and frustrating wait as the story jumps back in time to a few months earlier picking up shortly after the shocking events at the end of the previous book which have left everyone (me included) reeling.
The narrative follows a similar style to book one with the chapters rotating through the points of view of each of the main characters all of whom are dealing with things in their own unique way. Some are grieving, others wracked with guilt and some are out for revenge or trying to cover everything up. It’s like one of those TV drama’s about the rich and famous (think Revenge or Gossip Girl) but set 100 years from now.
I thought I would struggle to get back into this series and the world but it actually came pretty easily. It all felt very familiar. All of the same characters are there and it felt like coming back to people I knew, or at least thought I did as the author does a wonderful job of developing them. I found my opinions of them shifting and changing throughout the story.
Similarly, the relationships between them that began in the first book continue to evolve and change and I found my view of them starting to shift a little bit too. There was also a new and surprising relationship which I have to say I fully support but there was one in particular I really wanted to work and so far that hasn’t happened, oh well, maybe in book three.
As well as the familiar the author also adds a couple of new characters to shake things up a bit, the main one being Calliope Brown. I have to admit though that while I can understand why she was added she wasn’t my favorite and her whole storyline kind of bugged me. The mother and daughter con artists thing seems to have been lifted directly from the movie Heartbreakers (one of my fave films btw). There’s one scene in particular in the hotel lobby that seemed to have been almost lifted word for word. I probably would have been ok with a con artist type story but it just didn’t have any originality.
The story itself, is wonderfully addictive just like in the Thousandth Floor. The pacing is absolutely spot on and the mysterious death in the beginning really draws you in. The author keeps you guessing and throws in so many twists and red herrings that you don’t have a hope in hell of figuring it out until the very end. It’s frustrating but absolutely brilliant. I found myself on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion only to be screaming in frustration the next when I realized I wasn’t finding out what happened yet.
The futuristic setting and sci fi elements do add an interesting aspect to the story but as most of the world building took place in the first book there is definitely a lot more focus on the characters and story this time around. Similar to my biggest gripe with The Thousandth Floor though, I do still think the author goes a little bit too far in terms of the tech and gadgets. Just because it’s set in the future doesn’t mean everything has to be super high tech and gimmicky. When they started with edible lights in the icing of a cake I was ready to throw my kindle at the wall. No one messes with cake. I kind of feel, just let icing be icing or a blanket be a blanket. Not everything has to be different. Anyway, as you can probably tell the cake made me very angry but, I’m over it.
Overall, despite my cake related issues, this is definitely a book and a series that I’d recommend. It’s a completely addictive read with more than a few twists and surprises.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all view are my own.
One thought on “The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee”
“more twists and turns than a twisty turny thing”
The rest of the review hardly even mattered after an awesome comparison like that. Best thing is, I’m not even being sarcastic!