Author: Lenore Appelhans
Release Date: January 15, 2013 (hardcover)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Overall: 4 Stars
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.
Lenore Appelhans's Level 2 is a thrilling introduction to The Memory Chronicles! I loved its refreshing concept on angels and the afterlife, and everything about the world of Level 2 completely captivated me. It was such an addicting read too! I raced through the novel with a burning intensity, absolutely curious to learn more about Felicia's past, and the reason why both the rebels and Morati wanted her so badly.
Since her tragic death, Felicia has spent all her time in Level 2, an afterlife world where she can access her precious memories with her boyfriend Neil and play them over and over again like she's connected to a video network. More than anything, she yearns to see him again, and when Julian, a mysterious boy from her past, tells Felicia there's a way she can see Neil once more, she reluctantly escapes with him. Julian is part of a group of rebels planning to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2 who have lost sight of their true purpose. He says he wants to help her, but Felicia is wary of trusting him because he represents everything from her past she wishes she could forget.
As the narrative unfolds, readers follow Felicia not only in the present as she joins the rebels in Level 2 and evades capture by the Morati, but also deep into her past. Through flashbacks, we experience the short period of happiness she felt with the sweet and kind Neil, and lead up to the heartbreaking moment when Felicia died. But if Felicia ever wants to become a stronger person, she's going to have to finally let go of all the pain and regret in her past that she's been too afraid to face.
Felicia is far from being a perfect heroine. She has made awful mistakes which make you want to shake her in anger and exasperation because you just know they could have been prevented. When she was still alive and living in Germany, she was journeying down a path of self-destruction, but she tried to redeem herself after being sent to live in the U.S. with her grandmother. It makes it all the more tragic because you know Felicia is going to die, but we don't know how.
The ending was swift and abrupt, with no time for my heart to brace itself before I was left in shock and my thoughts in a state of disarray. I would've liked the conclusion to have been drawn out in more detail though because, compared to the steady buildup to the climax, it felt rather rushed. Lenore Appelhans's debut novel was well worth the wait and now I'm definitely excited to see what will happen next in Level 3!