As humanity lives out the remainder of its existence at the top of an isolated apartment tower, young Jackie dares to question Tower Authority and their ban on traveling into the tower’s depths. Intelligent and unyielding, Jackie ventures into the shadows of the floors below. But will her strong will and refusal to be quiet—in a society whose greatest pride is hiding the past—bring understanding of how humanity became trapped in the tower she has always called home, or will it simply be her undoing?
First lines: My name is Jackie, and it’s not so bad living here. Seriously. At least, I don’t think so anyway, but I guess it’s hard to say. Then again, I’ve never really been anywhere else. I’ve rarely even been below Floor 12. My parents won’t let me. They say things get bad down there, so I have to stay up here, on the higher levels.
This is one of those books that I am torn in half on. Floor 21 has great attributes that kept the story treading water but it also had some serious issues that kept it from getting above treading.
We’ll start with the bad.
Jackie’s character is seriously lacking in development. Her dialogue is air headed and lacks depth. Her character was hard to like. For me, this is a big problem. Jackie is supposed to be the “good guy” in this story. She’s the heroine. Her character should shine the brightest. She should be the one person in the story that I feel I know. Her “recordings” are basically the same information repeated over and over with a smidge of new information squeezed in. She needs work.
Now some good.
I like where Luthor was trying to go with Jackie. I think he was trying to show the metamorphosis of a misinformed teen girl to an empowered teen girl. I also like the way he introduced her race. It wasn’t a defiant statement. It wasn’t “hey look at me, I’m Hispanic or Black”. I don’t mean that to come across as racist. My point here is that her race doesn’t matter in the story. It’s not a defining characteristic. It’s just part of who she is and is presented in a way that doesn’t make the story about race. It makes the story about her development as a person. I think writing characters this way is another step in the war on racism. If in all of our books the characters are described using racial stereotypes, the character isn’t developed in the world of the story. It’s developed in our own miserable world. I know Luthor is capable of developing amazing characters because he did so with Commander Vick. Commander Vick is who I feel like I know best in this story. His character is solid.
There are some confusing aspects to the story. I can’t go into incredible detail without spoiling the book but there are some things that I couldn’t rationalize. Like the steak….? Where in a tower would they be able to produce enough grain or grass to feed cattle? The medication availability is another question mark. Most medications need a variety of chemical compounds and complex manufacturing processes. How in the heck would they obtain these items? Scavenging…well…it feels like too big of a stretch. I also don’t like the glorification of keeping a populace ignorant. It was unconvincingly justified in the story and I felt any moral meaning to the story was lost in this attempt at justification. The ending wasn’t the best either. I like that Jackie gets picked for the job she does. However, this was an opportunity to get some of the questions that are continually asked throughout the book answered and I felt like few of them were. This was another missed opportunity for Luthor to build on this world he is trying to create.
The premise of this story is incredibly unique! With more development and a rewrite of some of the more confusing aspects of the story…I could see this book hitting the shelves of some of the biggest retailers. It has an incredible amount of potential. I would love to see that potential realized.
The Technical Data:
Title: Floor 21 | Series: The Tower Legacy | Author(s): Jason Luthor |Publisher: Create Space Independant Publishing / Publication Date: 6-2-2015 |Pages: 356 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1530960569 | Genre(s): Science Fiction / Dystopian | Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 | Date Read: 9-1-2016 |Source: Copy from author