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.
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.