Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Posted January 12, 2013 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 4 Comments Tags:


I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore AppelhansLevel 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-01-15
Genres: Death & Dying, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Barnes and NobleBook Depository

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.

In all honesty, this is the hardest review I’ve written to date. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to rate this book for a while and I’m still not sure what it is I want to tell you about it. I’m going to try the just-start-typing approach and hope that by just going for it my thoughts will more easily spill out. I’ll go ahead and apologize ahead of time because I think this review will be a bit rambling and unfocused. But hopefully in the end you’ll understand a bit more why I’m having a hard time with it.

In Level 2 we meet Felicia. She is dead and spending her afterlife stuck in a place called Level 2. She is not living, yet she has not yet passed on to the something more permanent. As far as I can tell, the drones in Level 2 (or at least Felicia) knows that Level 2 is not the final place for them, but they do not know what it is they need to do or wait for to be moved on. The drones pass their seemingly endless time in pods doing nothing in particular or in their individual chambers reliving memories (both their own and others’ that they can rent). Nothing changes and the days run together. Until strange things start happening and Felicia seems to be the only one who can remember them. A fellow drone (and friend of Felicia’s) disappears. Then a boy shows up in their pod. More strange things happen and soon enough Felicia has become a part of the rebellion. The problem is that she doesn’t know who to trust or what she is rebelling against. All she wants to do is find the boy she loved before she died.

What I think about most when I think about Level 2 is the frustration I felt while I was reading and the disappointment I felt when I was finished. I wanted to love this book and learn all about this new world. The premise for the book is so intriguing! But something definitely gets lost along the way. While we’re learning about the world that Felicia is now stuck in, somewhere in between life and whatever comes next, we’re constantly thrown back into her life through her memories. I understand that we need to learn about Felicia and her life in order to find some kind of connection to her, but the pacing and the interruptions of the memories just didn’t work for me. I wanted to know more about her new situation and understand who the rebellion was and what they were rebelling against. And in all honesty, Felicia’s memories did not endear me to her. The memories didn’t do what they were supposed to do and just ended up irritating me.

One other thing that annoyed me a little bit was the ease in which Felicia’s problems were solved. She needed to be slowly weaned off the drug the drones are given in their chambers and she is. She needs pods to recharge while on the run and there is always one available. She wants to learn how to materialize items so she does. It’s that easy. And it shouldn’t be. There should be some struggles, some roadblocks in the story. Easy answers are irritating.

About the characters, Felicia was just okay. She was a bit aggravating, both in the Level 2 world and in her memories. I never quite warmed up to her, mostly because of her actions in her memories. Neil was good, of course, as Felicia’s boyfriend. And Julian was horrible. I was not a fan. The characters in the rebellion were also not my favorite because I couldn’t get a really good feel on them. Most of the time I wondered what they really stood for and what exactly it was that they were trying to accomplish. Were they using Felicia or did they really want her help and to help her back? I wasn’t sure. And I don’t like not having a side to root for.

As for the religion talk about this book, I just want to mention that it didn’t bother me that much. It may have been that I was more distracted by other aspects of the book, but I just didn’t care that much. I do think there is a lot of religious talk in the book, so if that bothers you, you should stay away. But with a book about the afterlife, I was kind of expecting it. In memories, the characters go to church and Sunday school and talk about not having sex and all of that stuff. In the afterlife there is talk about God, what comes after Level 2, and angels. If you are at all turned off by any of this, you should just leave this book alone. It will not be the one for you.

Final Thoughts: This book was okay but mostly a disappointment. I hate calling books that, but this one was. The premise was so promising and unique and the book just didn’t follow through. Most of the time I was reading I was annoyed at the interruptions, annoyed at Felicia for her actions and the way she treated people, frustrated that I was so confused about everything (the rebellion, the set-up of Level 2, the Morati, etc.), and sad that it just wasn’t living up to my hopes for it. I’m not sure if I should recommend it or not. I think if you go in with lower expectations, you might enjoy it. I know that if religion bothers you in books, you should stay away. But as always, you should decide for yourself if you want to read it. There are many very positive reviews for this one out now as well. So you might love it. It just wasn’t quite for me. I’m giving Level 2 two stars and classifying it as a disappointment.

4 Responses to “Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans”

  1. Sorry to hear this was a disappointing read for you–I’ve really been looking forward to Level 2. I really like the idea of a book taking place after death and the premise is really intriguing. I’ve been reading a lot of the reviews for this book lately and while I hope to still enjoy it, it does make me a little nervous how almost every reviewer comments on how much time is spent in Felicia’s memories, since that’s not normally a plot device I enjoy very much, but I’m hoping I enjoy it more in Level 2 when I read it.
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  2. I actually was disappointed by the religious tones of the book. I think my big issue was that I felt like her whole personality changed from who she used to be and who she changed into. I get that she was trying to make her life better but it really did bother me a lot.
    I think what I was most upset with is that it was a mix of too many genres – I thought it was going to be more dystopian, even knowing that we were dealing with an afterlife – and it was, but then it went more towards the paranormal side and I felt like there was too much of a sense trying to combine something that was real and unreal and they never meshed together for me as a reader.
    I totally agree – I wasn’t very endeared to Felicia either (and the sad part is, I could barely remember her name before reading the review even though I remembered Neil and Julian). I felt like her memories should have been used more than just telling us her backstory and they should have been a bit more intertwined in the plot than just seeing “Oh this is how it was”. I just felt like half of them weren’t really important.

    AH sorry for such a long comment, but really enjoying discussing this book!
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  3. Good job on the review! For not knowing what you wanted to say, you did a great job! Sorry that this one didn’t work out for you, but yours isn’t the only negative review I’ve seen for this one. It’s a shame, as the premise sounds so good! Hope your next read is better!
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