Just another book review … (contains spoilers)

High-Rise by J.G. Ballard

My rating: 3/5


I recently read “High-Rise” by J G Ballard and reviewed it on www.goodreads.com . Later I expanded my original review and here it is.

Briefly, “High-Rise” was written in 1975 by J.G. Ballard (also author of the autobiographical “Empire of the Sun”, a 1984 multi-award winning novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Later it was made into a feature film directed by Steven Spielberg.

I don’t think the film of “Empire of the Sun” pulled up any trees, getting only 60% on the Tomatometer. However I found that the film’s trailer encouraged me to perhaps give it a watch! I haven’t done so as yet.

The book creates a world more or less wholly centred on one of a complex of 3 high-rises. The architect lives at the top of the building in his penthouse with outside safari garden. Other professional tenants move in. The higher your floor, the higher the quality of your employment, and your own perceived social standing within the building. Over time the atmosphere and the physical building with its tenants included, begins to degrade.

While reading “High-Rise”, I discovered I agreed with Julie, another goodreads.com reviewer, Julie said she couldn’t understand why people think this is a great book. That it was mildly entertaining at times, was the biggest accolade I could give it.

I thought it unbelievable that –
* mostly successful people living in an attractive building turned into filthy degenerate zombies, for no real reasons
* these same people dig at their own wounds, seemingly for pleasure
* police turned up to investigate issues they’ve heard have occurred in the building, but go away, without entering, for no good reason
* a woman cared so much for a cat that she would slowly let it eat her alive, rather than have it starve
* nobody living in the 1000 apartments had a friend on the outside who, concerned that their friend had totally withdrawn from society, would come to investigate

If I’d kept notes there would be other instances to quote, but I was trying to get the book finished so I could move on to something hopefully more satisfying!

There were many lines of which frankly, I was derisory. While I’m sure in Ballard’s mind his reasons for them were more than adequate, to mine they seemed implausible. However, I’m not a world-class, feted author, so you can choose who to believe.

I frequently thought about giving up on it, but I was intrigued as to how the author would close it. Unfortunately the end is a cop-out, as again it’s unbelievable. I’m pleased I didn’t let the book beat me.

Books, stories etc are subjective, and these were my honest opinions of it. However the book was published in the mid 70s, and perhaps we’re just too sophisticated today.

Of course you might have a different view if you read “High-Rise”. If you haven’t read it, I hope I haven’t spoilt the story for you. Who knows? Perhaps I’ve encouraged you to read it.

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