Book Review – High Rise

High Rise (46)

by J G Ballard

Anyone who spends any sort of time in particular parts of London know that in recent years there has been a trend to head skybound.

The shard, One Canada Square and Heron Tower (the 3 tallest buildings in London) have been constructed in the past 25 years with two of these buildings being completed in the past 5 years.

High rises of the present are awesome constructions of glass and steel things were different a few years ago.

When I was growing up in the mid 80’s most high rise buildings consisted of council flats. Now if you want to live high up in London, especially the closer you get to the city or canary wharf, you’ll need an relatively high income…

‘High Rise’ is in parts incredibly prescient.

It predicts the rise of the tower block as a place where high earning professionals might choose to live. It also predicts that living in the sky as an aspiration, despite this book being written in the mid 70’s ¬†when this may not have been the case.

However the dystopian future this book predicts hasn’t come to pass…yet!

It tells three separate stories. A filmmaker who lives on one of the lower floors of the tower block, A doctor who lives near the middle and the architect of the building who lives on top.

The story starts with relative harmony but quickly moves into discord and violence. Before long the people living in the high rise are an insular and feral community where murder and robbery are regular occurrences.

The building itself seems to hold a peculiar power over the residents and many find themselves leaving the building less and less despite the deteriorating conditions and where nobody residing on the building notifying the authorities of the goings on.

As dystopian novels go whilst this wouldn’t rank as highly for me as 1984, Fahrenheit 451 or Brave new world however it is a darkly comic and highly readable novel worth spending a few hours with.

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