Title: Level 2
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Published: January 15th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review
"Three levels. Two loves. One choice. Debut novelist, Lenore Appelhans has written a thrilling otherworldly young adult novel about a place that exists between our world (Level 1) and what comes after life (Level 2).
'I pause to look around the hive - all the podlike chambers are lit up as the drones shoot up on memories ... I've wanted to get out of here before, but now the tight quarters start to choke me. There has to be more to death than this.'
Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend ... and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her.
Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves."
First line: "I'll sleep when I'm dead."
Thoughts: As a fellow blogger, what originally drew my attention to LEVEL 2 was the fact that it is written by a blogger. It's like finding out someone you went to high school with is on American Idol. Plus, who knows good books better than a blogger? Well folks, the same applies to writing good books. LEVEL 2 is a captivating, fast paced novel that will grasp your attention from the very first page. To put it another way, it is simply made of win.
First off, I love the concept behind the book. Felicia is dead and instead of being in heaven or hell, she's stuck. You see, Level 2 is a version of purgatory only instead of sitting around and waiting to be called, you're trapped, constantly replaying memories of your life. You can even watch other people's memories and rate them. Welcome to Level 2, the next stepping stone till you reach Level 3 (i.e. heaven). Still with me? Awesome.
Not all is grand in the world of the afterlife. There is a rebellion brewing outside those Level 2 walls, so while Felicia dreams and remembers, other's want to escape. Enter Julian, Felicia's former best friend's boyfriend. Julian promises to reunite Felicia with Neil (her boyfriend) and though she doesn't trust him, what else is she going to do to? To the rebellion and beyond!
What I love about this book is the author's meticulous attention to detail. From the setting to the characters, I could literally picture every event happening in my head as well as feel every feeling. One of my favorite things about LEVEL 2 are the memories. The story offers Felicia's memories, documented and rated not only by her but my others. The author does a fantastic job of transitioning from past to present, and to me, it also made the characters feel more alive. These memories help the reader not only document what happened in Felicia's life but help them understand her more. They give her depth. It shows pieces of her relationship with Neil, Julian, her ex-best friend and even the complicated relationship she had with her parents. Ultimately, these memories are your road map and where you'll find out how Felicia died, ended up where she is, etc.
Now, on to romance. When I first started the novel, I assumed there would be some sort of love triangle in it. Even while reading it, I patiently waited for the Julian- Neil-maybe someone else smackdown. I know several of readers (i.e. me) who personally do not enjoy these types of relationships. Well, you didn't hear it from me, but let's say this isn't something you should worry about. Both Julian and Neil are fabulous characters, and I truly adored where the author intends to take you, the reader, when it comes to the both of them.
All in all, I found LEVEL 2 to be a dazzling debut novel that kept me entertained till the very end. To me, the book reads more like a contemporary novel rather than sci-fi or otherworldly book, and I savored every minute of it. I'm anxious to see where the author will take us and will definitely keep my eye out for the next novel in the Memory Chronicles series.
"'I know it might not seem like it now, but there's more to life than parties and studying. The point is to keep trying new things, meeting new people, visiting new places. Once you settle into a rut, not matter how fun that rut ma seem, you stagnate. You might as well be dead.'"
"He leans in close and smashes his lips against mine. And with that, my resolve to stay away from him is overpowered by my desire."
"We grin at each other with big cheesy smiles. He shifts his body so he's propped up on his side, and he reaches out his hand to brush the tendrils that have escaped from my ponytail away from my face. My scalp tingles, and the tiny pulses of pleasure radiate down my body."