One observation that you have to make about Ballard before you even start is that he manages to get the names of his characters just right. A name in Ballard’s world has to stand for many things. Take an architect for example. The name has to conjure up the image of a successful man, someone who has a certain position in society and as a result someone who thinks and behaves a certain way.
So we are introduced to a character that lives just above the middle of a 40 storey tower block. On the 25th floor he can look out on the floors below but is within a quick elevator ride of the delights of the world above.
But slowly but surely Ballard starts to take the world of the high rise, with its swimming pools, schools and shops and turns it into a fearful world. A society based on floors, bands from 1-10, 11-30 and then above emerge. The tenants start fighting each other at first verbally and in terms of anti-social behaviour. But as the days go by society starts to break down.
As a reader you are constantly asking yourself how this could happen knowing that given the right circumstances and time it well might. Of course things are speeded up in Ballard’s account but otherwise the breakdown of society and the movement towards violence and animal behaviour is very believable.