by Lenore Appelhans
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 15th 2013
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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 prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she's lost - family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian - a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life - comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: A rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.
Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most - to be with Neil again - if only she'll join the rebels. Suspended between heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in 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 mankind.
I really hate to say this, but Level 2 was a huge disappointment for me. Huge. I think it goes without saying that we shouldn't build up an idea of how great a book is going to be before we read it because then we're almost sure to be disappointed. Well, that's what happened with Level 2 and it totally backfired.
Felicia died and is now stuck in Level 2, which is basically, for lack of a better example, purgatory. She spends all her time reliving old memories and longing to reconnect with Neil, her boyfriend from her old life. All that changes when Julian shows up, a boy from Felicia's past who she would rather forget. But why is Julian here? And why is it up to Felicia to save mankind?
Part of the reason why I thought Level 2 was gonna be such a great book is because the idea behind it is brilliant. An afterlife where people exchange memories like currency? Way cool! Unfortunately, the execution and world building were not at all what I expected. Instead of being futuristic and awesome everything turned out to be, well, boring. People sat around in these pods in their "hives" and it all came off as extremely sterile and white and hospital room-esque. I did NOT like it at all. In fact, most of the intriguing stuff happened outside of the pods in Felicia's memories which would be, you guessed it, in our world.
Which brings me to one of the reasons why this book did not hit home for me. It's really not an adventure/thriller/afterlife dystopia so much as it's a contemporary novel disguised as an adventure/thriller/afterlife dystopia. A huge chunk of the book is Felicia reliving memories of her and Neil which are honestly not that interesting and they don't even seem to push the plot along.
As for the plot, I'm still a bit confused as to what the plot was about. I mean yes, it was obviously Felicia pining after Neil and then getting grabbed by Julian to help "save mankind" but somewhere between "I love Neil" and "stop the Morati" I got totally lost. I'm not sure if maybe my reading comprehension was going down the tubes, or maybe I just missed something, but I was so, so confused.
It's possible that I didn't enjoy Level 2 simply because it wasn't the book I wanted it to be. I was expecting an exciting adventure story, and instead it turned out to be a personal drama with some evil angels thrown in. Maybe if I hadn't already built it up in my mind, I would have been able to enjoy it for what it was, but I couldn't help thinking throughout the book that if the idea behind it was executed differently it could have been so much better.
I'd still recommend Level 2 to people who might be interested in a contemporary novel with an otherworldly twist. As for reading the sequel I'm not sure if I will or not. Level 2 seemed to have a pretty definitive ending (am I wrong? Did I miss something?) so I feel like I won't be missing out on too much if I don't continue. However, if people rave about the sequel and really push me to read it I'll probably give it a chance. I'm all for second chances!