Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1)

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Overall rating 
 
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3.5  (8)
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2.6  (8)
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Interesting Afterlife Story
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
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.
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Not the book for me
Overall rating 
 
2.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
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.
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Originally posted at Daydreaming Bookworm: Duet Review with Maliha
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Originally posted at: http://perrytheplatypus1102-3daydreamer3.blogspot.com/

My Review:


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.


Maliha's Review:

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.
Good Points
See review.
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