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High-Rise by [Ballard, J. G.]
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Length: 257 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Coming in March 2016 from acclaimed director Ben Wheatley, a major motion picture adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s compelling and unnerving tale of what happens when life in a luxury apartment building descends into chaos, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss.

‘Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.’

Within the walls of a high-tech forty-storey high-rise, the residents are hell-bent on an orgy of sex and destruction, answering to primal urges that their utopian surroundings can’t satisfy. The high-rise is a would-be paradise turned dystopia, ruled by intimidation and violence, and, as the residents organize themselves for war, floor against floor, no one wants it to stop …

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1138 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (28 June 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008CBD38K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #81,861 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.8 out of 5 stars 163 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lord of the Flies for adults: A Hobbesian nightmare 25 March 2016
By Jessica Weil - Published on
Verified Purchase
“Laing knew that he was far happier now than ever before, despite all the hazards of his life, the likelihood that he would die any time from hunger or assault. He was satisfied by his self-reliance, his ability to cope with the tasks of survival – foraging, keeping his wits about him, guarding his two women from any marauder who might want to use them for similar purposes.”

There is so much substance packed into this 207-page book.

The entire story takes place inside a 40-story luxury high-rise that houses about 2,000 people – an ostensibly homogenous group of high-income individuals. But as tensions begin to arise between the wealthy dog owners on the top floors and the families on the bottom floors, the residents of the high-rise divide into three groups, driven by power and self-interest. The hostilities gradually increase as they assimilate into their self-imposed hierarchies within the building and devolve into chaos and anarchy.

Ballard cleverly positions the high-rise as both a literal structure and a social structure. But as the characters devolve into a Hobbesian state of nature, the most disturbing thing of all is that they admit to feeling happier. Finally able to exercise their most devious impulses, they slowly reveal more genuine versions of themselves.

Clearly lots of fascinating themes to unpack here – and no surprise coming from J.G. Ballard. Like a Lord of the Flies for adults, this was a dark and twisted read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror story within a high rise building - a chilling social commentary on the effects of technology on the human psyche 15 August 2016
By Marie - Published on
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High Rise is a horrific novel about a building that begins to have a strange hold over its residents. The high rise is a virtual vertical city, with the higher levels representing higher social class status. The building has it’s own school, restaurants, pools, grocery store. The only reason for its’ residents to leave is to go to work. The residents begin to throw louder and wilder parties and begin leaving the building less and less often to go to work. Often if they do go out, they rest at work for a few hours and then return to the high rise, or they may get to their car and then turn right around and go back to the high rise. The parties turn to violence, vandalism, voyeurism, raiding, raping, murder and cannibalism with the ultimate goal being survival of the fittest. The characters become either checked out or fully engrossed in the “game” they are playing. Although there is some hope they will get caught, no one ever bothers to call the police or seek outside help. The men and women revert to hunter/gatherer roles. The women seem banded together by the end and it appears the women have come out on top, however, no one really is a winner in this book. Reading this novel from 1975 did not feel much like I had jumped back in time with the exception of the polaroid cameras and lack of cell phones/social media. This novel was many things at once: a horror story, a dystopian science fiction story, and most impressively a chilling social commentary. It is a commentary on the psychological effects of modernization and technological advancement. This advancement leads to an increasingly fragmented and socially insular society that yearns for more connectedness even if that connectedness is horrific. The writing was excellent and I look forward to watching the movie.
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much content for such a short book 24 September 2015
By atreides - Published on
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I was really torn about how to review this book.

It’s a short book, 205 pages, and its written very well in terms of descriptions, setting the mood, etc. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions that really drew you into the book.

I had a few problems with the book. Specifically, it chronicles an entire apartment building’s tenants and their surprisingly fast decent into madness but really never comments on why. Ballard inserts the occasional power outage as the catalyst for their fervor but it’s a stretch and I felt like he should have touched off on this more. None of the characters are likeable, there are multiple references to animals being beaten, killed, eaten, etc. It was tough to read some times.

Overall, the book was well written and at times Ballard really hit the nail on the head with his descriptions of people’s thoughts. That said the book was too short for this much content and was unrealistic at times. I would give it a pass but still 3 stars for the writing style.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, and chilling, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story. 15 March 2014
By Candise88 - Published on
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The Times called this "Ballard's finest novel" and even though this is the first novel I've read by him I doubt that they could possibly be wrong.

This is a beautifully written farce. A satirical social commentary. A stomach turning page turner.

In nineteen chapters we follow the two thousand residents of a forty story high-rise as they succumb to their primal instincts. The people of this modern day tenement divide in to factions, then clans and begin warring against each other. Specifically the reader sees upper, middle, and lower classes represented visually by the upper, middle, and lower floors. Each of these levels are represented by a central character: medical Dr. Robert Laing represents the middle of the middle class, the architect of the high-rise, Anthony Royal, represents the highest of the upper class. Richard Wilder, a documentary film maker, represents the ambitious lower class. I use the word class very lightly here. The high-rise is a very expensive place to live and therefore a person living there could not be poor in any way, but that does not stop the upper floors from looking down on the lower floors. Laing is content to stay where he is and fight off intrusions from both the lower and upper floors, Royal wants to reign supreme over all the people of the high rise, and Wilder wants to scale the high-rise and combat Royal for his position.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this amazing book 3 April 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this amazing book. I heard of Ballard for many years but never read any of his works. I am embarrassed to admit I was driven to read this because I read about the film coming out based on the book. But am thoroughly happy to admit I am totally in love with Ballard's symbolic writing. I feel like critics of this work are missing the point. It is more than just a commentary on the breakdown of our humanity ala Lord of the Flies. It is a statement not of where we might be going if we don't watch it, but rather where we already are. The high rise is real society. People who cannot escape hunger, violence, and classism is 100% real. It is not a warning, but a report on an observed contemporary experience. The characters might not be the same, but the issues are intact in many parts of current human "civilization." Yes, it might be icky that the residents are forced to eat domesticated animals, but guess what- that really happens. And for all the critics that state they could not 'suspend belief' that the residents wouldn't just leave of their own volition, the real people who cannot escape their violent and inhumane lives don't get the chance to 'suspend belief' either. But my favorite piece is the fearless way in which Ballard uses grotesque imagery of very human nastiness like smells and death, survival and sex to shock our minds into going to a place that fortunately most of his readers do not have to live through and experience. A place that is, however, very real for those living in violence, war, and fear on a daily basis. And reminds us that there is only three months time between our cozy home life and roasting our beloved family pet in the right (and entirly possible) circumstances of a broken society. What JGB book should I read next? And I shall anticipate the release of High Rise the movie starring my favorite actor, Luke Evans.