Eleven Floors – Review

Robert Lampros. Eleven Floors. St. Louis: JBS-Publishing, 2015. E-book.

Eleven Floors was promoted to me as a young adult book, i.e., appropriate for middle school. While the length and reading level certainly fit that, I suspect that middle schoolers might not consume it heartily. The main characters are college students who are really outside the usual YA orbit (or what one book series called the junior high Magic Bubble).

While the main character appears to be more or less a straight arrow, there is casual drug use and sex, and the audience that could likely relate to it would be college students or college grads.

Because this is a very short novel, it is hard to say much about it without giving much away. College freshman Charles falls for classmate Lynn. Charles is a Christian who likes to talk about God. Lynn listens. Charles likes to go to the quiet tenth floor at the top of the library where there are few people so he can quietly pray and read the Bible. Guess what the eleventh floor is.

Besides a number of Bible verses and a seedy street “prophet” who says the end is near, there are also references to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unlike The Double Bind or An Authentic Derivative, the allusions are less significant. Charles briefly mentions The Great Gatsby, but Lynn does not leave Charles.

At Lynn’s suggestion, Charles reads “Babylon Revisited,” which may suggest that the college campus is a stand-in for the Biblical and prophetic Babylon. He also read “Jemina,” where a couple who have just discovered one another die side by side. That may be a bit of indirect foreshadowing—but let’s just say no one dies in Eleven Floors, not really.

When Fitzgerald put some of his stories together in a collection called Tales of the Jazz Age, he wrote a brief introduction to each story. He tells us that he wrote “Jemina” when he was still in college. There is a sense that Eleven Floors likewise is a college production. We are supposed to write what we know, yes?

There is a cool image at the end. Imagine the so-called rapture (see I Thessalonians 4:15-17) in which the vehicles or vessels people are riding or sailing in rise with the people themselves who are raptured. In other words, not like Left Behind, where the airplane goes out of control because the pilot suddenly disappears. If you were on a motorcycle or a sailboat, that might be a cool ride to the Promised Land.

This is a different apocalypse from what we usually read about. This is not World War III or a bombed-out Chicago (or zombies). Eleven Floors is more like Fitzgerald’s Babylon: people having careless “fun” in spite of consequences. Rather than emphasizing the devastation of Revelation (which in the original Greek is Apocalypse), it more like the end times of Matthew 24:37-39 “eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage.” It is just as biblical, is it not?

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