A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Meant to entertain, not educate.
Life is always complicated and puts obstacles in your way; don't let other people get in the way of your happiness. Don't try to find someone without any flaws, because everyone has them; find someone whose flaws complement yours. Personal connection and love have the power to change your point of view, to make you forget about revenge, and to want to be a better person by treating others better.
Positive Role Models
Large cast of teen characters model both good and bad behaviors, like working a crummy job to support yourself and your younger sister, or using an illegal computer to spy on people. Most characters have a deep, dark secret, and the antagonists use their knowledge of others' secrets for their own gain. Parents are peripheral characters, pretty unhelpful, and lax about their older teens' activities.
Violence & Scariness
Non-gory description of a dead body; finding out who it is and how she died is the setup for the whole story. Memory of a child being slapped in the face and getting a nosebleed from it. A punch to the head. Blood from an injury mentioned.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Most of the plot involves romantic relationships among a large cast of characters. Kissing and light making out described vaguely. Sex itself is implied by mentioning things like getting dressed afterward, but is never directly narrated. Siblings by adoption are romantically involved and trying to keep it a secret. Brief, occasional, nonchalant mention of same-sex relationships (a girl has a girlfriend, two boys were dating, etc.). Mention that two teens have sex every night.
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Rare: "F--k" and variations, "s--t," "crap," "hell," "whore," "damn," "bitch," "bulls--tting," and "pissed off."
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Products & Purchases
Glamorizes life among the most privileged, wealthy elite in New York society 100 years in the future. Some high-end brands still exist: Hermes, Senreve, and Bergdorf Goodman.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
High schoolers frequently drink at parties, sometimes to excess, and consequences are rarely beyond a hangover. Legal age is 18 for drinking, but teens of all ages drink pretty freely; parents don't care or turn a blind eye. People who drink when they're upset or to calm themselves usually suffer plot-oriented consequences. A main character is four months out of rehab and drinks but doesn't do any kind of drugs anymore. Fictitious hallucinogenic drugs mentioned. One character drugs another with a paralyzing truth serum in her cocktail. Smell of pot shots mentioned at an illegal rave.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dazzling Heights is author Katharine McGee's sequel to her debut novel, The Thousandth Floor. Set in 2118 New York, it picks up shortly after the events of the first book. Reading the first book isn't necessary to understand this one, but it will deepen understanding of the characters and how they're changed by the events of both books. Romantic relationships are a big focus, and having sex is mentioned or implied a lot, but descriptions are rare and vaguely describe kissing and light making out. Glamorized, unimaginably wealthy, elite high schoolers frequently drink at parties (the legal age in this world is 18). A main character is recently out of rehab; she drinks alcohol but doesn't take any drugs. One character goes to an illegal rave and pot shots are mentioned. Another character's cocktail is drugged by a villain. Profanity is rare but includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch."
Is It Any Good?
This appealing second helping of the same place, time, characters, and setup as the first book offers some new twists and intriguing new characters. Author Katharine McGee once again does a great job balancing character development and world building with advancing the plot. She's also made it easy to jump right into The Dazzling Heights and follow along, although those who read the popular The Thousandth Floor will have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the characters.
Lots of teen appeal here, as the glamorous, super-rich high schoolers of New York in the year 2118 navigate their world of ultimate luxury and the latest in high tech. But it's a character-driven mystery, and readers will relate to every character in some way and be equally intrigued by all of them. Those who've read the first book may find this one less suspenseful. The identical setup of flashing back from a dead body at the very beginning, not knowing who it is or how she died, makes you pretty confident you'll find out everything in the end. Or will you? And speaking of endings, some of the characters reach the end of their satisfying arcs, but there are plenty of loose ends, and even a cliffhanger, that'll make fans eager for another installment.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.