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Publisher's Summary

British actor Tom Hiddleston, well-known for portraying the supervillain Loki (The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World) and the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (Midnight in Paris), brings his acting versatility and smooth voice to this visionary tale by acclaimed author J.G. Ballard (Empire of the Sun). When a class war erupts inside a luxurious apartment block, modern elevators become violent battlegrounds, and cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on "enemy" floors. Human society slips into violent reverse as once-peaceful residents, driven by primal urges, re-create a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.

©1975 J. G. Ballard (P)2015 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Harsh and ingenious! High Rise is an intense and vivid bestiary, which lingers unsettlingly in the mind." (Martin Amis, New Statesman)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    311
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    189
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    95
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    53

Performance

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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

TOM HIDDLESTON NEEDS TO READ EVERYTHING

The way Tom brings all the characters to life is amazing!!! Very intense and crazy story! Plan to reread it!

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A dream voice for a nightmare story

loved this book, and Hiddleston's smooth, modulated voice made this the first audiobook I have actuall ever finished. Cannot wait for the movie.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

lord of the flies in a residential tower...

this was an interesting book. . bizarre in a psychological standpoint, it would take way to many things to happen on a grand scale for this story to play out, did none of these people have realitives that would try to get ahold of them? did the power company not check on why a whole building wasn't on the grid or paying their bills? did none of the exiting staff tell anyone of the on goings of the building? and last but not least, did the building next door not wonder what was with all the f'n balcony bonfires???

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Everyone is insane.

Would you try another book from J.G. Ballard and/or Tom Hiddleston?

JG Ballard, probably not. Tom Hiddleson, HELL YES. Honestly, his narrating it is the main reason I bought it..

What does Tom Hiddleston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His magnificent voice.

Do you think High-Rise needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No.

Any additional comments?

So... I read another review for this book that said "Lord of the Flies with adults" and I feel this is very accurate. I mean. Everyone goes psycho.

I kept singing the song "Savages" from Pocahontas to myself throughout the entire 2nd half of the book:

Literally everyone loses their shit.

Would I recommend? Probably not. The best part was listening to Tom Hiddleston narrate.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 02-11-18

HOA from Hell

"The high-rise was a huge machine designed to serve, not the collective body of tenants, but the individual resident in isolation."
- JG Ballard, High-Rise

I love Ballard. He both attracts and repels me at the same time. No. That isn't quite it. He freaks the hell out of me. His stories and novels are so damn sharp and prescient. 'High-Rise' was written in 1975 (43 years ago!), right after Crash (1973) and Concrete Island (1974), but he seems to GET the psychology of Twitter and Facebook. He gets Trump. He GETS the Trump hotel.

It is easy to just call this novel a Lord of the Flies for adults, or a LOTF in a high-rise apartment complex, but that summary misses the unique vision of civilization Ballard is painting. It is like saying 'Crash' is about sex and car crashes, or 'Concrete Island' is living on the Freeway. Yes! Certainly. But, you floor neighbors are missing the whole point. Ballard was painting our now. Not with facts, but with parables and dark visions of civilization, technology, human nature, and class. His isn't an optimistic vision, but it is kinda amazing. I read Concrete Island and Crash YEARS ago in college, but missed this one. I'll have to go back and re-read them both.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Plan to be depressed

First, the narration of this book is fabulous. Second the story is too "strange" The residents of a 40 story apartment building in central London go from "normal" lives to living in a building where raids on other apartments result in murders, cannibalism, and dog eating. All the while in buildings 400 yards away from where normal life go on. The book starts out well with tensions escalating between the tenants living in penthouse apartments and those living in garden level apartments quickly escalating. It goes from rudeness to murder pretty quickly.

The basic premise is that heart man is a savage and will return to barbarity without modern technology. I found it depressing and it is one the few books I could honestly say I wished I never listened to.

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Tom Hiddleston Delivers Again in HIGH RISE

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I always recommend audiobooks read by Tom Hiddleston to all my associates. But since I read HIGH RISE prior to Mr. Hiddleston's reading, I've always wondered how he would narrate such a complex, compelling story. And he really did not disappoint.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Dr. Robert Laing has always been my favorite character in HIGH RISE. He is probably the one who appears the most normal among the crazies in the condo, but his gradual acceptance of the deteriorating conditions is a clear sign that he too has succumbed to the perversions that the other tenants were getting into. The fact that he seemed so nice, so ordinary and so matter-of-fact about the goings-on in the high rise make him all the more disturbing.

Have you listened to any of Tom Hiddleston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I have listened to all of Mr. Hiddleston's prior performances. Personally, I liked his performance in HIGH RISE more than in OCTOPUSSY. There were only a few characters in Octopussy so he was somewhat limited in displaying vocal characterization. I'm not really a voice expert, but I love the way he modulates his voice when switching from male to female. Some male readers have a tendency to make female characters sound "gay". With Mr. Hiddleston, he softens his voice and adds a light, non-exaggerated lilt. The reader/voice actor whom I consider closest in skill to Mr. Hiddleston is Mr. Jeff Woodman. I'm a huge fan of his readings of Diana Gabaldon's Lord John books.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely. As soon as I got the notice that HIGH RISE was available for download, I quickly went home from my meeting, burned it and listened to it in one go. As I said, I am not disappointed.

Any additional comments?

Personally, I want Mr. Hiddleston to continue doing audiobooks. He is such a skilled voice actor and I don't want him to lose this talent as he pursues more film roles. Now...how about Audible convincing him to read THE NIGHT MANAGER? ;)

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Masterful Descent into Madness, Not for Everyone

I quite enjoyed this book, and especially Hiddleston's reading of it. The tenants of a high-rise re-create the world in their own image in this thoughtful and bizarre descent (ascent?) into madness and savagery. It begins with the power outages and the drowning of someone's dog. Soon things spiral out of control, but the residents don't want outside interference; everyone seems transfixed by the evolutionary forces at work. Atop the tower, Royal, one of the building's architects, holds court among the rich and social elite. At the bottom, the masculine Wilder becomes obsessed with breaking through the strata above him and forcing himself on the upper class/floor residents. (I feel like the symbolism in those character names is pretty obvious.) In the middle is Laing, who resolves to observe and ride out the affair.

Ballard is at his best in this short work, a witness to a slow apocalypse and the psyche of its victims. But anyone approaching Ballard should be warned about two things.

1. He is not a plot and character driven writer. His stories begin and end like a storm and there often isn't any kind of growth arc or likable protagonist. That's just not his style. Instead, he goes for a kind of brutal and dispassionate honesty that will assuredly make just about any reader flinch at times. Speaking of which...

2. Ballard has somewhat squidgy ideas on human sexuality. This book includes rape, casual violence towards women, voyeurism, oedipal sexuality, and a kind of emotionless sex that isn't just casual but more a kind of dead-inside objective view of the sexual act. It was definitely disturbing at times. However, I didn't feel like it devolved into pure wordplay in the same manner I felt Crash did. (I contend that if you rip out the best 20% of Crash, the rest is just randomization of words for car parts and sexual fluids. I'm sure that's intentional and interesting in its own way as commentary, but ... ew!)

Aside from the problematic elements, I was struck by how amazingly relevant High-Rise is to this decade. Ballard writes messy metaphors without easy answers. They speak to universal things, but never point at them directly. This book kept my mind spinning on matters of fascism, social media, the instability of insular systems, and so on. The book is a carrier for lots of ideas, but no single, pervasive, clear-cut message.

To summarize, High-Rise can be a great read, but it's going to turn off a fair number of readers too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Yuck!

They ate dogs! pets, they ate peoples pets! even tho they could walk out side and order a pizza, go to taco bell, to the store, they killed and ate dogs!
I could not understand why they just would not walk outside the high rise and get food, or water...

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not What I expected

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I spent about two or three days listening to this book and I can't say that I remember much of it. Luckily it was throw away time (I'd listen while cleaning or driving) so it doesn't feel waisted, but it wasn't exactly time well spent either, I hate to say.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Disappointing, to say the least.

Which character – as performed by Tom Hiddleston – was your favorite?

I loved the different accents and voices Tom Hiddleston would put on to differentiate between characters. Especially Wilder.

Do you think High-Rise needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I wouldn't read a sequel regardless if there ever was one.

Any additional comments?

Tom Hiddleston's voice is the only thing that made this worth my time. I was able to get into the story because of him, but in the end, even his velvet voice couldn't salvage the story. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea, or maybe I was just too distracted by Mr. Hiddleston, either way, I didn't not enjoy the story at all.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful