I’ve just finished reading J G Ballard’s dystopian novel ‘High Rise’. This is the kind of book I’d usually pick up in a shop or at the library, but it was actually part of my primary reading lists for next semester.
The novel is set in, you guessed it, a high rise apartment block on the outskirts of London. It’s residents are distributed amongst the floors, with the more affluent residing in the higher floors and penthouse apartments. Soon after the block reaches its full capacity, things begin to go downhill for residents of all social standing. Ballard has clearly set out to show how modern social and technological landscapes can alter the human mindset.
The plot line is told from four main characters from the main architect in his penthouse suite, to a mid-society doctor, and a lower floor man with a growing family. I’ve always loved multiple narrative stories (even my own book has a dual narrative!) but I think this novel uses the narrative in one of the best ways I’ve ever seen. As Ballard concentrates partly on showing distribution of wealth and power, and social hierarchy, it makes it very interesting to see one plot line or one event occur, but through the lens of multiple different people.
This is one of my favourite books I’ve read so far for my university studies, and the only thing which slightly disappointed me was the ending (although I understand the reasoning behind this kind of ending, what with the themes explored).