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.
My thoughts on the book:
I had high expectations for Level 2, and while those hopes weren't completely crushed, they weren't met nor exceeded. Level 2 is an okay book with an incredibly unique premise. The main character, supporting characters, lack of character development, and poor execution kept this from being an A read for me, but the idea and weirdness surrounding Felicia kept me reading. While this isn't one of my favorite books of the year, I am interested to see what Level 3 is like.
Felicia is a drab character. She doesn't have much of a personality, yet guys supposedly fawn all over her. I don't get it. I mean she may be pretty (I couldn't see her, though the girl on the cover is kinda creepy looking with that make-up), but her personality SUCKS. Yes, it's completely believable that two guys love her *eye roll*. Only if those two guys have no depth, which I guess they don't because they're pretty drab, too. And one is a Christian goody-goody. Not the recipe for a best seller, in my opinion. The Christianity aspect and the "goodness" of Neil really turned me off. I mean what people choose to believe is their business, but I don't want to read about virtuous, boring characters. Yawn.
The concept of the net and everything to do with Level 2 is pretty intriguing, but the execution kind of sucks. I mean I had no idea what was going on and I was curious because, let's face it, this place is weird. However, the idea kind of fell apart, and I didn't feel like the author even knew exactly where she was going. The whole ending made no sense whatsoever. I mean I get it, I know what happened, but a hint or two would have been nice, that way it didn't feel like the whole thing came out of nowhere.
Also, the world-building was kind of nonexistent. I still have no real idea what Level 2 looks like or what it feels like to be there. I have no idea how people "plug in," though I assume it has something to do with their hands. The "addiction" sequences and the weaning off parts don't show any form of withdrawal, but rather tell about it. The entire world was very abstract, and I would have preferred more clear cut imagery, such as what the "plugging in" consoles actually looked like, felt like when rested upon, etc. As it stood, even though the narrative is first person, I felt like an outsider looking in. Also the parts in which Appelhaus attempted to show were in Felicia's hokey memories, which were not half as bad or touching as the author hoped. The "bad" memories made me think the girl needs to get a real problem. Only one is truly horrifying, but she views that one from outside her body because she's too weak to deal with it. That means that I felt like an outsider twice removed. Way too much telling and no showing for that one. The "good ones" are idiotic and childish, even though the dialogue was more adult (Appelhaus loved her GRE words that no teenagers use) Not good.
Overall, I'd say check this one out from the library before you buy it. The idea is intriguing, and the plot is mysterious enough to keep you reading, but the execution, writing, characterization, and world-building are sub-par. Nothing in this book is complex, everything is just vague. I can handle complicated, but vagueness is irritating.
Want to buy Level 2?