I have to say this is one of the best surprises I’ve read this year.
I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic / dystopian story, so it’s no surprise Floor 21 by Jason Luthor hooked me from the start.
Jackie is a curious, independent and headstrong 17 year old female living in one of the top floors of a Tower that is besieged by a black, oozing muscle-like mass that reacts to pain and emotions. Everything below Floor 21 is unlivable. The higher you live, the better the conditions. Jackie lives on Floor 4. No one knows or remembers before the Creep infested their massive tower, or what lies below or beyond. Questions and inquisitiveness is frowned upon by the secretive and reclusive Authority who live on Floor 1. Follow the rules and everything is fine.
Except everything isn’t fine. No one talks about the Creep. Jackie’s parents are acting weird. People disappear; some return acting different after going through Reinforcement. When Jackie begins to ask questions, the answers she seeks might just bring the whole tower down around them.
Jason Luthor crafts a compelling, fast paced, mysterious story that creeps up while you are reading. (See what I did there?) At only 144 pages, it’s a short read that seemed like a prologue to a much larger adventure.
The author uses recordings of monologues made by Jackie as a narrative device to tell her story. Halfway through the novel the recordings switch from Jackie to that of a Commander on a Scavenging team, instructed to go below Floor 21 and look for food, materials and any secrets that may unlock the reason the Creep came to the tower.
Luthor expertly manages the release of information that explains the backstory of the Tower. I like that. New information is introduced in a matter-of-fact way and I never felt at a loss. [(Except for the steaks. Like, seriously…Where do the steaks come from? It’s not Creep Meat is it? Gross!) in my best 17 year old voice]. He also doesn’t give away the farm. There is obviously more to the story and that’s the sign of good world building.
A few nitpicks:
It’s often hard to get a good deep look at the secondary characters of a novel when the narrator is “recording” their actions. These important characters often come across as one dimensional or cardboard-like. Also, I think Luthor had to explain a few times how Jackie was actually recording given what she was doing.
Jackie’s use of modern slang was a bit distracting. The events of the novel are set decades or centuries in the future. Her dialogue just didn’t come across as that of a 17 year old girl; maybe 14 years old. Of course it’s been a while since I was a teenager so who knows.
The ending felt a bit rushed, but the plot wrapped up nicely, paving the way for the next installment in the series. (There will be a next installment right?) It’s certainly not a stand-alone novel.
All-in-all this had the feel of a very good novel in the Young Adult category. NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Personally? I think there are some fantastic YA novels out there today that I wish were around in my time. My point being, while it’s not deep-thought science fiction, it’s light enough to hook the most adamant of sci-fi fans, while appealing to a much broader audience.
I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to read and review this novel and look forward to more stories from Jason Luthor. Floor 21 is a wonderful start to what looks like a promising series.
Discover a new indie author today. Head on over HERE and pick yourself up a copy. At 144 pages, Floor 21 is a quick, enjoyable read that I know you will appreciate.
3 stars out of 5.
(Looking for more independent authors? Check out The Indie View. )