Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1)Featured
Beautiful Writing and a Neat Blend of Genres
I love afterlife stories. They all are so unique and vastly different from one another, but Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans is by far the most unique of them all. Basically we need to just talk about how incredibly awesome Level 2 was.
Lenore Appelhans prose is just gorgeous. I could read her writing all day and I in a way did. This was one of those books that was so good but I drew out reading it so I could just savor the story. Level 2 was one of the best written books I've read in a long while. Level 2 has some epic world building going on. I loved the world and loved finding out more about it.
Level 2 is such a neat blend of genres. It's a bit paranormal, with a bit scifi, and a big dose of dystopian in there as well. I absolutely loved it. Then on top of it all, so much of the book is reliving memories. It was just such a neat structure and framework to the book.
The beginning of the book was a bit slower paced. The story really picks up in the second half of the book. Lenore Appelhans has a real knack for story telling. I was just entranced by both the world and the characters themselves. All the characters had such interesting qualities and I am really curious to see more about all of their back stories.
The stakes are high in Level 2. It was quite the thrill to read. By the end of the book, I was on the edge of my seat, mouth wide open. One thing after the next kept surprising me. I loved the unpredictability of the plot.
Lenore Appelhans is an author to watch out for if Level 2 was any measure of what she can do. Level 2 is a new favorite of mine and I cannot wait to delve back into the world of Felicia and Julian once more. I basically just want to stand and shout from the rooftops my love for this book. It was just so awesome.
Really Cool Vision of the Afterlife
The first awesome thing about Level 2 is the world building, which is multi-faceted and complex. She reveals new layers of epic awesome as you read through the book, and I have no doubt this will continue in the next book. The world building was definitely my favorite thing, and I loved how Lenore could completely surprise me or explain something that I was at first skeptical of. She makes this work like whoa.
At the beginning of Level 2, I was a bit confused, as, indeed, you're supposed to be. You join Felicia in this weird afterlife; that's about all I knew going into it, and Felicia doesn't know any more than you do. In Level 2's version of the afterlife, you hang out in a room full of pods, spending most of your time watching the afterlife equivalent of YouTube (YouDead? lol), only you're watching your memories, pulled from your mind in high definition and with better detail than you could have done on your own. I totally wrote short story like this in college, though clearly not so detailed, and I loved seeing the idea really fleshed out. Not only can they watch all of their own memories, but they can share them with others, earning currency to buy new memories when people purchase theirs.
Why would you want to watch someone else's memories? To stave off boredom, of course! One small theme running through Level 2 which I really appreciated was the Fahrenheit 451 aspect to the printed word. In the afterlife, books only exist if someone read them closely enough that every word appears in someone's memory. Otherwise, it's gone. That is just so powerful. You'll all be glad to know that I've got Level 2 tucked away in my brain, so we're good. Also, bloggers would have so much currency in the afterlife, since we read so many things!
Of course, there are also MORE things going on, like I promised. I'm not going to go into great detail about the rest of the world building, because I think it's something best left for you to find. I will just mention that there's some awesome stuff that one can do with mind power. Also, Lenore has a wholly new take on angels. I, for one, am always skeptical of angels, because RELIGION, but no worries my agnostic and atheist friends, there's no preaching, I promise.
Felicia, our main character, is not the most likable heroine you will ever meet. I suspect some readers will have difficulties connecting with her. Partly, this is caused by what spending so long constantly replaying just one's best memories will do to someone. She's definitely not a perfect person by any means. She has made serious mistakes with painful consequences, mostly involving an unfortunate attraction to the not-so-trustworthy Julian. She's also one of those people who, if you tell them to stay in the car, will never EVER stay in the car.
Though there were some things I didn't like about Felicia, she worked for me as a heroine. Felicia has spunk and sarcasm, and she's not overly trusting. She does complain, but as soon as she finishes doing that, she throws herself bodily into a task. I don't begrudge someone a 'man, this sucks,' so long as they then do what they can, and she always does. In fact, my one complaint about the pacing of the novel is that Felicia seems to come by her defensive skills too quickly and easily. In this case, I would have liked a training montage or some way to mark time passing.
In addition to Felicia, we have two other super important people I must talk about: Neil and Julian. Yes, there's a love triangle. I know, I know. It's okay, though. This love triangle is made more interesting by the fact that we have a juxtaposition between past and present, and the fact that only Julian is actually present. Though I initially hated Julian, who is definitely too cocky and bad boy-ish for my usual tastes, I'm currently in his team, because he's complex and interesting. I want to know more about him. Neil is too perfect, too high school love, too religious, to hold much appeal for me, BUT I have yet to meet him except in Felicia's favorite memories of him. At this juncture, it's in no way clear which competitor will win fair Felicia's heart, which always helps in a love triangle.
So far as the dystopian stuff goes, Level 2 is not the most dystopian novel ever, but there's obviously some creepy stuff happening because of...whoever's in charge. There will be more dystopian goodness (errr...badness) in the coming books, I am sure.
Lenore Appelhans' Level 2 is a thought provoking read that will put you into an entirely new world. The images will stick in your brain long after you finish. In fact, rewriting this review just before it's meant to publish (since I managed to accidentally delete the original, because I'm an idiot), I find myself wishing I had time to reread Level 2, so that I could catch plot threads that I missed on my first read. I will definitely need to reread before reading the next book. You definitely don't want to miss out on Level 2.
Great Idea, Poor Execution
I wasn't sure what to excpect from this book. I thought the blurb sounded really ineresting, so I was excited when I recieved a copy in the mail for review.
Sad to say, this book let me down in alot of ways. I didn't like the how the author used the memory chambers as a way to learn about Felicia's life on earth. It was distracting. The book starts off in Level 2 where we meet Felicia, and learn that she has died and is living with other girls her age called "drones". They have some pretty great tech for this being the supposed afterlife, and at first this confused me, but there is some explanation for this later on in the book. So, the drones practically live in things called "memory chambers", and relive memories from their lives on earth. Almost like an addiction. They can even rent each other's memories with credit, and there is this whole rating system that reminded me of You Tube mixed with Goodreads, but for memories. Now, this is what really bothered me, everytime Felicia goes into a chamber, she relives a memory on earth. (Which she does A LOT) Now, I know this is supposed to let the reader get to know her as a character, but for me it was really just distracting. I would be really into what was happening in the present and BAM, now were reliving the time she went for lunch with her friend! I found myself skimming the parts where she was reliving her past memories, and just wanting more of the action going on in Level 2. Plus, the memories did not do what they were meant to. They did not endear me to Felicia, in fact, they did the opposite. I mean, some of it was just soo boring, not to mention making Felicia seem like such a selfish brat! I really didn't like any of the characters very much in this book. No, that's not true, I just didn't really care about them one way or the other. (Which is worse!)
The book wasn't all bad though. The non-memory scenes were pretty cool and there were some cool twists at the end that surprised me. I really hate it when a book doesn't live up to my expectations, but Level 2 just wasn't for me. Maybe the reason I really wasn't too into it was because the "memories" felt alot like a contemporary novel, and that is one genre I don't really enjoy. I would have preferred less of that and more time spent learing about Level 2. I may still read the sequel, if only because I don't think the memory flashbacks will be part of the sequel. (At least I hope not...)
I would reccomend this to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary with some paranormal/sci-fi mixed in. It's how I would classify this one, but that's just my opinion. I hope you will still give it Level 2 a shot if you have been looking forward to reading it. Not every book is for everyone, and this one just wasn't my cup of tea, but who knows, you may end up lovng it.
Interesting Afterlife Story
When I saw the summary for Level 2 back in early December, my reaction went something like this: “Yes! I have to have this ASAP! This is such a me book! Why has no one put this book in my hands yet? So, when is the release date? Still over a month away? How ever can I make it that long?”. As you might imagine, Level 2 quickly became one of the top books I was looking forward to this year, so I got a hold of it as soon as I could, and I’m so glad I did.
I was really hoping this would be a five star book, but it didn’t quite make it to that point. There were a few things I had issues with, so I’ll get those out of the way before I squeal over all the parts I did love. First, Felicia, our main character, doesn’t think highly of herself, and this gets quite annoying after a while. Her thoughts about her past seem to be completely self-deprecating and on the lines of “I’m the worst person ever!”. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Felicia’s made plenty of mistakes, including some pretty major ones, but her constant hatred of herself seems a little overboard and is hard to read after a bit. This gets better towards the end.
My final complaint is that while the book does suck you in, it takes awhile for the main plot to actually start. Most of the beginning is spent in Felicia’s memories. These become necessary to the plot later on, but when it’s not clear how, it seems a bit unnecessary to spend so much time reliving some of Felicia’s experiences. Once the plot really takes off, even the quality of the memories seems to improve.
All right, now that my complaints are out of the way, I can focus on what I do love about this novel. To begin with, the concept. Why aren’t there more books that take place in the afterlife? There’s so many things you can explore there. I’m now convinced that Lenore Appelhans must have found my 10th grade creative writing project in which I wrote a short story about a girl who dies in a car wreck to find the afterlife is a large room with a TV and a DVD player, and you watch a DVD of your life over and over until you get to the point of your death, then the cycle starts all over again, but you don’t remember you’ve already watched your life. Level 2 definitely has a similar vein, at least for awhile, which just made me love it even more.
I’ve read some reviews that state Neil, Felicia’s love interest, seems a little too perfect, and while I think that’s a valid criticism, I actually did know guys like that in high school, so I can’t say it’s exactly unrealistic. I really like the exploration of Felicia’s and Neil’s relationship. Felicia grows a lot during it, but I feel like Lenore struck a good balance of having Neil be a catalyst for Felicia to come to terms with herself while not being the only reason. It can be a bit dangerous to play with the “boy saves the girl” device, but I thought it worked fairly well in the story.
I’m not sure why, considering this story is about the afterlife, but I didn’t expect religion to play such a large role in the story. It fits well by the end, but Felicia’s memories of things like youth groups and meeting Neil at church just seem so normal despite the premise and setting of the story. I really like the plot about the war and the last fifty pages of this book definitely kept me turning the pages as new twists kept being revealed!
Final Impression: Despite a few things I disliked throughout the book, for the most part Level 2 kept me entertained and wanting to know more. It was so refreshing and original with characters I really grew to care about. This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but I ended up really liking it anyway.
Level 2 review
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.
Just to clear up the confusion, Level 2 and The Memory After are the same book.
Now onto the review.
This was possibly the most confusing, yet most interesting book I've ever read. I started reading it today, and I just couldn't put it down.
The Characters: I really don't know how I feel about the characters. The main character was interesting, but I won't lie and say I connected with her. Felicia is clearly in love with her boyfriend, so I don't know what the purpose of the other love interest was. Felicia's parents were not my favorite. Her mom seemed like the typical, "I'm not going to really write this character so she's going to be absent all of the time" adult figure.
The plot was really confusing at times. Since the book is kind of futuristic and it deals with the afterlife, there's obviously going to have to be a lot of explaining for some parts. But I read a couple of things and was literally thinking "wait, what?" But, the author was very good at writing those questions that make the reader question if everything they've read has been a lie. Which is good and bad. That kind of writing made the book suspenseful and more thrill-like.
Would I recommend it? Depends. The book was good, and I don't feel like I've wasted my time, but it was definitely...different.
Background: Felicia is dead and reliving her life through her memories, she is not sure where in the afterlife she is, but it is a strange place. He is confronted with her past in many ways, including Julian who tells her she must fight for her afterlife and her chance to be with the one she loves.
Review: Level 2 is an interesting place, somewhere like a purgatory, only it has technology and the technology allows you to relive your life over and over through a database and network of your memories. I was immediately sucked in, what a cool way to learn about a character, not through daily events as a plot, but through her own memories of herself and their relevance to the plot… MIND BLOWN... it was good.
I received an audiobook of Level 2 from Random House Audio (Thank you!) and was so excited to start listening to it, I could barely stop, I brought the discs in the car, to my laptop at home, and to my office; I wanted to know what was happening. There was a tension throughout this book that only left me wanting more and moments where I wasn’t sure I wanted to listen because I knew the end was so near.
Anywho…Felicia is our main character, she is hard to get a read on, and like I mentioned you only learn more about her through her memories of her past, so it is a little slow going. Other characters were just as vague and mysterious, the swoon-worthy Julian, some rebels, a boyfriend- Neil, and various levels of angels, some good and some evil.
Overall there was a lot of key plot points about trust and whom to trust in level 1- life and level 2- the midway point; so I look forward to seeing where the series will go.
Awesome version of the afterlife
Level 2 has an awesome idea (as well as a brilliant, bad-ass cover). It's no secret that the afterlife genre is getting a little bit used, but the great thing about this genre is that all the book are so different, because it's not exactly a fixed idea.
First, I'm going to explain about this setup. There are a number of places called hives, each full of drones, which are dead people. In the hive that Felicia's in, all the drones are females, around her age, and died early 21st century. Pretty much all these drones do all day is relive their memories, and they can even rent other people's memories if they feel like it.
Most of Felicia's character is developed through her reliving her memories. And I just felt like some of those flashbacks were just there to fill up some page space. Most of them, like the development of Julian's character and that whole drama with Autumn, worked pretty well with the plot, while others, like many of Felicia's memories with Neil, didn't add much to the plot in terms of stopping the Morati.
Actually, the whole thing with Neil didn't really work for me at all. Let's just get this straight. While the synopsis hints at a love triangle, there is no love triangle in this story at all. Felicia was pretty decisive on who she wanted to be with (i.e. Neil). And with basically nothing at all to connect Neil's flashbacks with the actual plot, the whole romance between Felicia and Neil bordered between endearingly sweet and too-good-to-be-true. To tell the truth, I didn't really like either of them because while they both seemed to love Felicia, Neil was a totally, completely perfect guy scenario and he didn't really connect with any of the real plot, and Julian, while hot and quite charming, other times he was just a lying jerk.
The ending was also a little too abrupt. I was totally engaged and BAM! I'm sorry, I think I got a bump on my head I hit that back cover so hard.
I hope in the next book that we will get to learn more about Level 2 and Level 3. I would also like Felicia to step up to the plate a bit more. This is a kind of contemporary-meets-science-fiction book. I hope we get more of the science fiction part in the next book!!
Not the book for me
When I got this one in the mail, I was so excited to start reading it because I had heard such great things about it. Unfortunately, this is one of those books that everyone seems to like but me. So, I am going against the majority when I say that Level 2 left me bummed out and very disappointed.
The thing that bothered me the most about this book was the main character, Felicia. I felt like she was a snotty 13 year old girl who only cared about what she wanted and nobody else mattered. She even threw toddler-like fits where I could just imagine her throwing herself on the ground and banging her head and feet to get her way. She was supposed to be this amazing savior-like character, but instead, all I saw from her was immaturity and irresponsibility. I know this is harsh, but I've never been more annoyed by a character.
I also was frustrated with the religious tone of the book. In my opinion there was too much talk about sex before marriage. It was preachy at times, and then there were times when it was the opposite. I'm just not sure there was a happy medium with the portrayal of religion in this book. I don't have an issue with religion in a book at all, so don't think that's the reason. I am a religious person, but there was just something that bugged me about how it was used in this book.
I did enjoy Julian. He was mysterious (although not mysterious enough that I didn't know the secret he was hiding) and broody, which I like in a guy. The problem, though?--I knew his secret! In fact, I guessed everyone's secret pretty early which left no mystery in the rest of the book. :(
I did enjoy the different view of the afterlife, a world meant to help you come to terms with who you are/were. It was interesting and definitely something that I hadn't seen before. Unfortunately, the other things annoyed me so much that the good things about the book got pushed into the background.
So, like I said, I am in the minority on this book, so you should definitely read it for yourself. This book wasn't for me, but who knows, it could be one you like.
Originally posted at Daydreaming Bookworm: Duet Review with Maliha
Originally posted at: http://perrytheplatypus1102-3daydreamer3.blogspot.com/
Rating: 3.5 0f 5 stars
**I received a copy of this book (AUSSIE EDITION) from the author in exchange for an honest review and for using it in a giveaway.**
LEVEL 2 is one of those books for which I had higher expectations,but still liked it enough to crave for the sequel.The thing with LEVEL 2 is that despite its awesome premise and a bad-ass cover that highlights the story's concept so clearly,it was still able to let me down in some cases.I might have enjoyed it a lot more if it was a bit more fast paced.It seems as though that there is no action in Felicia's afterlife until Julian is dragged into the story,which actually takes quite a good amount of time to happen.Even though Felicia's memory flashbacks were an okay distraction for the forthcoming action,it still wasn't enough.But the flashbacks had their ups and downs.While some of them were absolutely mind-blowing,gnawing at my mind and making me even more excited about the mysteries to be unveiled,others felt like as if they were just there to fill up the pages.
My feelings towards the characters,just like with the memory flashbacks,were also very conflicting.There were times when I felt like wrapping them in a bear hug while at other times I felt like hitting them on the head hard enough to make them pass out.Well,those feelings counted mainly for Julian and Felicia.....not so much for Neil.But I think conflicting personalities in characters is what I enjoy most in a book.Makes the story a lot more lively.
But about whether you,as a reader,will enjoy this book or not?In this case most of it will depend on your taste,because this is one book that will shine in the limelight for some people while burn to ashes for others.I have a feeling that this one is going to have a huge number of conflicting reviews,like Stormdancer and The Selection.Or moreover,you can already guess it from the difference between Maliha's review and mine.
So while I'd encourage people to give this book a chance,I'd probably recommend them to borrow it from a friend or a library,just to be on the safe side.
Rating: 2.5 0f 5 stars
“I had my chance for redemption and I failed” – this happens to be the only sentence I agreed with the heroine in this book.
The concepts of religion and myth were not explained enough. The plot itself seemed lacking to me. There were no challenges and every obstacle was too easily overcome. Ironically, the pace of the story was too fast, as though the author could not put her ideas on paper fast enough. Instead of drawing the readers in, the rushed scenes were confusing and lacked necessary detail.
The net was a nice touch. I mean, if we can’t live life without the internet, why the afterlife? And the love triangle was not as promising as the synopsis suggested. But I guess I’ll admit, Julian was an important character and I did not expect his little secret.
The relieving of memories from life was very interesting. It’s definitely something I would have wanted included in my ‘welcome to the afterlife’ package. Materialization was also a cool bonus.
Overall, the book did not meet my expectations. I expect a lot more from LEVEL 3 because I believe the author can meet its potential. I hope she writes more about the rebellion. The fact that we have no idea about what to expect from the sequel only makes me more curious.