Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Publication Date: January 15th, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BYR
Page Count: 281 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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* I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. My thoughts and opinions are my own. *
In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.I don't really know where to begin with my thoughts on Level 2. This is definitely a case in which the more time that goes by, the more my feelings change. At first glance, I liked the book alright. It's a cool concept, dealing with the afterlife in such a manner. I've never read a book that focuses on the idea of purgatory (other than Purgatorio), so it was definitely a catchy topic. However, the execution fell far too short, causing me to almost put the book down for good on more than one occasion. As much as I wanted to love this book, I just couldn't. In fact, I probably won't even pick up the next one. The concept is fantastic and original, but that's about it, sad to say.
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
Out of all of the characters, I honestly didn't really love any of them. Julian was by far my favorite, but that was only because he's the biggest trouble-maker. He instigates everything and always does his best to mess everything up. Felicia is just boring and annoying as a protagonist, living her afterlife for a boy who's still alive and consuming her days with her video-like memories of him. I mean, I get that she's dead, and she misses her still-alive boyfriend, but get a life. [pun intended] Even in life she seemed pretty lame, and at no point in the story could I connect with her. All of the other characters are pretty one dimensional, sadly, and I kept praying for more scenes with sexy Julian.
Like I said, the concept is fresh and original. The execution is where everything falls apart. I mean for one, the layout of this limbo-like place is filled with technology. Sure, everything is possible in the afterlife or whatever, but these girls are hooked up to big memory playback machines every day so they can relive their lives and then they get points when other people watch their memories and then they can use those points to watch more memories from other people. Confused? Me too. Also, I know this book is all about what happens after you die, but it became way too preachy for me. I mean, the number of times that mention how angelically chaste Neil is is ridiculous. they meet at church, they sing at church, they take an abstinence pledge at church, they make out at church camp, REALLY?! I'm all for spirituality and understanding religions of all kinds, but when they blatantly get pushed in my face I get really turned off.
Enough of the ranting. The concept is good and the writing is well-done, so I will definitely pick up another of Lenore's books, just not one in this series. I wish more of the world that Felicia is now living in had been focused on rather than her past and what lead up to her death. the story is definitely short and if you don't mind the religious undertones than you might really like this one. I definitely would've if the religion had been toned down a few notches and if there was more Julian.