Publish Date: January 15, 2013
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Rating: Near Miss
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.
You know how sometimes you really want to like a book or just kind of expect that you will because everyone likes it and it's full of things you enjoy? That was me and Level 2. Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it, but I also didn't love it.
First of all, I didn't especially care for any of the characters. I was kind of rooting for Felicia, but not in a way that made me feel like I was connected to her and her story. When the climax comes and she needs to make a decision I just kind of felt like “Eh, I'm good with whatever you choose.”
I had this inexplicable hate for Neil almost from the moment he was introduced. Maybe it's because Felicia talks him up too much or that he's strangely moody. I really don't know, I just didn't like him until very near the end of the book. I gained some respect for him when he said '“But you don't have to naked for that,”' though, because it was true (yeah, I know you're wondering what that's all about, but you'll either have to read it or have someone else spoil it for you :P)
Then there's Julian who just felt kind of. . .slimy to me. Yet, I didn't really hate him. I find this amusing because when Felicia introduces him into the story, she makes it clear she doesn't like him. He's definitely not the best guy ever, but maybe I was just feeling like rooting for the underdog this time around.
I found the setting incredibly unique and interesting. I mean, a stop-off between Earth and What Comes After isn't a new thought, but Appelhans spruces it up and gives it a whole new feel. I especially like that there's unrest in Level 2 and it's not just some place people go to settle unfinished things on Earth or what have you. I'm still not completely sure if there was some bigger reason Level 2 was modeled after beehives and why they were in the story so much (I can be a pretty surfacey reader,) but it doesn't unnaturally shoved into the story.
I enjoyed the back-and-forth between memories and Level 2 Felicia for a while, but at somewhere in the middle it just started bogging me down and I only cared about Level 2 Felicia. When things really started to build towards the climax and answers were coming from Felicia's memories I was able to get back into it again.
The last 50ish pages started getting a little strange for me. I think it started about the time Felicia is “watching” her memory instead of living it. The story-telling does make sense and I see where Appelhans was going with it, but it just pulled me out of the story. Then things start happening really fast and Felicia's not really in her body and then BAM the climax happens and it's basically over.
I do have to say I like how it ended and I'm curious to see how future installments will go.
Also, I couldn't picture the Morati as anything but glowing Weeping Angels.
The Nutshell: While I can appreciate Level 2's fresh writing and ideas, it wasn't my favorite read. I didn't hit it off with the characters, I got a little bored in the middle, and the ending felt weird. However, I found the world intriguing and liked the way Appelhans wrapped everything up. If like a good afterlife story with scifi-vibes then Level 2 is still worth a look.