DRC: The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

f4.54.5 stars

Katharine McGee’s stunning sequel to The Thousandth Floor, The Dazzling Heights, embodies its name through and through. In a dazzling second book to the trilogy, a web of lies grows thicker and thicker as old characters flounder and new ones are introduced.

Please keep in mind that this review includes spoilers for the first novel, The Thousandth Floor. If you haven’t read The Thousandth Floor, check out my spoiler-free review for the first novel here! Seriously, major spoilers for the first book.

After (remember, spoilers for book 1!) Eris’s death and the hush up kept between Leda, Avery, Watt, and Rylin, these characters are living in a ghost of their luxurious life from before.

Eris affected all of them, and her death was profound and hard hitting for all the characters.

Avery and her adopted brother, Atlas, are still conducting their secret affair, but on rocky grounds.

Leda is paranoid that anyone of the three people present on that night when she accidentally pushed Eris off the tower will reveal what happened–even though she’s blackmailing them. She’s able to use Watt to her advantage, using the benefits that come with him (mainly Nadia) to do her dirty work, but the benefits soon take a turn.

Rylin receives a scholarship to an upper class school where most of the highliers and her ex-boss, Cord, goes and discovers a newfound passion for making holographic videos.

And then there’s Calliope, a new character introduced to us and she and her mom have their own agenda for the wealthy denizens of the upper floors.

More lies are told and secrets are revealed in the thrilling sequel to The Thousandth Floor. Here’s the official summary:

New York City, 2118. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible – if you want it enough.

Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a beacon of futuristic glamour and high-tech luxury… and to millions of people living scandalous, secretive lives.

LEDA is haunted by nightmares of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’s afraid the truth will get out – which is why she hires Watt, her very own hacker, to keep an eye on all of the witnesses for her. But what happens when their business relationship turns personal?

When RYLIN receives a scholarship to an elite upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being here also means seeing the boy she loves: the one whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

AVERY is grappling with the reality of her forbidden romance – is there anywhere in the world that’s safe for them to be together?

And then there’s CALLIOPE, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who’s arrived in New York with a devious goal in mind – and too many secrets to count.

Here in the Tower, no one is safe – because someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, you’re always only one step away from a devastating fall….

I think the first thing I have to talk about is how I think this novel was executed better & was more enjoyable than the first.

In the first book, a lot of the characters were petty at times and too dazzled by the glamour of the lifestyle. In the sequel, however, it’s completely different–they all know the bad side of this glamorous lifestyle.

And with this, there’s less illicit activities (i.e. the rape, drugs, & heavy alcohol in the first book). Naturally, there’s light alcohol, especially with their lax parents and a few non-explicit sex scenes between some characters.

Honestly, I wonder what it would be like if this was the first book, but I know that would be a headache in itself & it’d end up to be an absurd amount of pages.

Either way, I enjoyed this novel much more than the first. You can really see how most of the characters grew and became more mature and less childish. Although the lines of good and bad are blurred, an aspect I really like, the characters emotions are more in check.

They’re more dynamic than ever and become more likeable characters in general.

Leda resists the urge to take drugs & actually tries to make up for her wrongdoings. She was probably the most dynamic character of them all, and I really liked seeing how she grew as a person even though I hated her with a burning passion by the end of the first book.

I think that really shows how much mastery McGee has over her characters as she could make me, and anti-Leda person, become a pro-Leda.

Especially with her connection with Watt, who now definitely claims the favorite character spot.

Although sometimes it seems like Stockholm Syndrome, just not in a physical sense, as Leda controls Watt through his fear, I honestly enjoyed reading about them. It’s an odd balance of power which is what makes it so shaky as Watt is trying to get evidence Leda committed the crime while they spend more and more time together.

Funny side note, this is how I imagined Watt before & after reading this book.


I don’t know why, maybe it was because both their names started with a W and that they had darker skin and black hair and were computer-savvy, but I envisioned Watt a lot like Wade from Kim Possible, but with a leaner size (all bodies are beautiful).

After reading the second book, his image became a lot more sexualized because of his involvement in a more intimate relationship. It shows how computer geeks don’t have to be unattractive, but they can also be super sexy. It’s a different view that I like, although I miss pure-ish Watt.

I’m not going to delve too deep into Watt as to not spoil his plotline, but I think it was definitely a positive aspect of the book as it helped him grow, although it could be interpreted as slightly toxic in the beginning.

Rylin stays pretty steady as a character, although she was smart enough to talk things out with Cord & clear up the air rather than there being a mountain load of frustration between them. I think there could have been more emphasis on her transferring schools and the difference between upper and lower floors, but hopefully we’ll be seeing more changes to her character in the third book.

Avery was the character whose rating went down in my books. I didn’t like how fickle she and Atlas acted–one moment in a relationship and the next moment not. It’s like how young children flick the lights on and off, on and off. I’m still pretty set in that they should be apart, even though she’s still living in a dream.

Love can’t solve everything. I don’t believe it can, because there’s so many things that can tear it apart. Although love can be a very strong force, it’s unrealistic to think that it’ll magically solve everything without other factors going your way.

As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I shipped Avery and Watt but I don’t think she deserves Watt anymore. What would she be like with a committed boyfriend? I feel like she’s a little naïve for thinking she and Atlas could be together & also blinded by wanting something she can’t have.

I’m not a fan of the Avery & Atlas dynamic, especially with them being siblings, although not related by blood, and I don’t think my feelings about this subject will change with a third book, unless McGee works some of her Leda magic.

Lastly, Calliope. She’s the new character introduced in this novel with a con artist mother and a fake identity. I enjoyed reading about Calliope, even though I didn’t like her very much. She’s very dynamic in the novel, probably the most after Leda, and I like how she changes but still keeps a part of herself.

As a con artist, she’s not a very attractive (in the friend-sense, not beauty) character as she swindles money from unsuspecting people. However, you learn about her backstory and have to sympathize with her. I’m pretty apathetic to her and her connections to Atlas because the Atlas love (triangle? square?) [insert geometric shape of choice] is just not my cup of tea.

I’m not very attached to Avery, Atlas, and Calliope as I like the other characters more, but I do still want to see their plotlines resolved.

Moving away from character development, I think McGee continues to do a fantastic job with the pacing and plot.

I read around 300 pages of the novel in one afternoon as I was sucked into the story in finding what happens next.

The plotline captures your attention, and even though there’s slightly less drama and more focus on the characters, Calliope still manages to make some waves, as well as other struggles the characters go through.

It’s a very quick read once you get into the story as it seems to speed by as you anxiously get to POVs from your favorite characters.

Although there are multiple POVs which I know some people had an issue with in the last book, I think it was executed better in this novel as the plotlines for all the characters were still intertwined. You saw a lot of the other characters even when it was narrated by a specific person.

You get to see more of the technology and how the world is like in places other than New York. McGee does a great job in furthering the world-building of this futuristic novel.

I think the adults are still put on kind of a backburner; you see more of their influence with Calliope as she lives with her mother, Elise, who plays a large part in their lives. I still missed an adult presence for the other characters, the parents only mentioned a few times except with Leda’s dad, who she believes was having an affair with Eris.

The characters in this novel make better decisions than in the first book and aren’t as frustrating (except Avery). I liked seeing how they all changed as people and this novel was more character focused but still included thrilling, edge-of-your-seat action.

Here’s a quote from the second novel (quote art by Epic Reads)! Can you guess who said this?


It’s rare that I give a sequel more stars than the first book, but I really liked reading about how Eris’ death affected the characters. If you did not finish the first book since you didn’t like it, (you shouldn’t be reading this review!) I might suggest spoiling it for yourself and trying the sequel because I found it a much more enjoyable read with more down to earth characters.

I would recommend The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee to anyone thought the summary of the first novel sounded interesting. The companion novel to The Thousandth Floor was more enjoyable than the first, and I can’t believe I’ll have to wait at least a year to read the final book in the trilogy (nooooo!).

The Dazzling Heights is available for preorder (if you check out McGee’s website, you can also get a special, super cute makeup bag below with the preorder!) & comes out in bookstores on August 29th!

compressed gifThank you to Edelweiss/Harper Collins for providing me with The Dazzling Heights in exchange for an honest review! 

Have you read any of Katharine McGee’s books? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “DRC: The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

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