ARC Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 by Lenore AppelhansThree 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.

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My Review of Level 2

I added Level 2 to my TBR list a while back, but by the time I got to read it, I had completely forgotten what it was about. And let me tell you, I’m glad that I decided not to read the description again, and just dove right into the book. From the first page, I was curious, intrigued, and slightly confused. But I was so quickly engrossed by the story that it was hard for me to put this book down.

The world that Lenore Appelhans created in Level 2 is a very interesting version of the afterlife. I was completely floored at how thoroughly fascinating each aspect of Felicia’s predicament was! I love the way that the story unfolds, alternately experiencing Felicia’s present moment, and diving into her memories so we can learn about her past. I had so many questions as I read this book, and Appelhans really drags the suspense out!

But because of these storytelling techniques, and because of how fascinating the world is, I was hooked on every single word. At times, things seemed to move very quickly — almost too quickly (in one aspect I was expecting a more gradual change to come over Felicia, but it happened very suddenly). But the pace moved along so swiftly, and the plot and the memories were so satisfying, that I’m not really complaining.

There were times when Felicia got on my nerves. She was rather self-centered throughout most of the story, both in the present and in her memories. But at the same time, I was very firmly on her side and I think what helped was that there was still so much mystery and so much emotion. I mean, why does Felicia harbor such guilt? What happened that is making her cringe every time she thinks of this Julian guy? Eventually, I learned the answers to my questions, and by then, I understood Felicia much better.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the juxtaposition of so much technology (I mean they’re in pods, sorting through memories like files on a computer) with the religious experiences (or non-experiences) from Felicia’s memories. This is the first YA book I’ve read that includes church and a youth group. It very much made me think back to my days as a teen, when I went to similar functions with my youth group. This part of the story really resonated with me, and I really    appreciated it.

By the end of Level 2, I was very much in Felicia’s corner, and pretty much dying to know more. For days afterward, I moped around, wishing there was more. I have been tempted a few times now to actually pick it up and start reading it again, and that is a rare thing for me to do, especially considering my giant stack of books to read.

[NOTE: I read this book as an ARC, borrowed from my sister, who receives many, many awesome things in her mailbox.]

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4stars
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
More of Level 2: goodreads | amazon | official website