Earlier this month, I told you about doing Epic Recs and being paired with Becca of I'm Lost in Books. I made it through Level 2 last minute (this morning), and my review follows!
Title: Level 2 or The Memory of After (The Memory Chronicles #1)
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Acquired Via: Personal Collection
Release Date: January 15, 2013
In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.
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.
First, I want it to be known that the original title of the book, Level 2, works so much better for the story than The Memory of After. You see, the majority of the novel takes place in Level 2, but we'll get to that later. I also want to say in this opening paragraph (I know most of you just skim - I do, too) that this book was yet another victim of the hype monster.
The main character, Felicia, is just the sort of character that I love because she is kind of a terrible person. Now wait a minute, I'm not being judgmental, I promise, but aren't we all at some level? I know I've done some fairly awful things in my life, but shades of gray (not the smut, thank you) are what make us interesting. And Felicia is a very complex, interesting, and, therefore, realistic protagonist. I wanted to know what she did through all of Level 2. The first revelation, I totally called, but there was a second, bigger one that I didn't see coming. Oh Felicia, you are such a damaged girly.
I'm one of those people that sits and daydreams about what the afterlife may or may not be like. (I used to do it to the point that I gave myself nightmares when I was a kid.) So the possibility presented in Level 2 was not one that was mind-shattering to me. I mean, wouldn't it be cool if we were able to access our memories, or other people's memories, and watch them on repeat? Well, there's a few that wouldn't be on top of my playlist, but you get the idea. Anywho, it made Level 2's Level 2 easy for me to imagine. It was fascinating, but I had trouble with two things. First, the parallelism between it and beehives kept giving me the mental image of bugs crawling around the hives. No, no, no. I do not like the bugs. *shudders* Moving on. *wipes arms* Secondly, I saw a LOT, and I do mean A LOT, of similarities between Level 2 and The Matrix. It was nearly to the point that I all I could think about was when Keanu Reeves or Laurence Fishburne to pop out in the story. But still, I have to give credit where it is due and making a action-packed thriller with angels deserves credit.
The writing style of Level 2 was very well done. Appelhans unfolded the story through Felicia's memory flashbacks and during real time in Level 2. I liked that we were given a trail of breadcrumbs to follow to learn why Felicia had nightmares, was sent to live with her grandmother, and how she knew Neil and Julian. I don't say this a lot, but the style was the best part of the book.
What I had the biggest problem with in Level 2 was the ending. It just didn't work for me. There was a twist that I hesitate to call a twist because it really didn't make much sense. I mean, it did in a way, but it just wasn't as well-constructed as I would like. Or maybe I'm just grouchy today, who knows?
If you have questions about the afterlife or if you like to fantasize about it, Level 2 is just the book for you. I also recommend it to readers who enjoy flashback storytelling and/or angels.
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