Title: Level 2 (AKA The Memory of After)
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Source/Format: Library / hardcover, 281 pages
Opening Sentence: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon
In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.
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 drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at 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 all mankind.
Wow. Can we just sit here for a moment so I can let this book sink in? Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans was way different from what I was expecting based on the jacket synopsis. I can’t even recall what I was expecting, but I don’t care at all, because Level 2 was pretty freaking awesome. This book has a very interesting take on the after life. It managed to be revolved around religion and mythology without being overpowering or preaching in any direction. Honestly, it’s really kind of difficult to explain without spoiling anything… but it was super cool. Trust.
Level 2 is almost like two stories in one—the story of Felicia, the main character, before she died, and Felicia after she died while she’s in level 2. The main focus is Felicia while she’s in level 2, where they have memory chambers that she can access her old memories in.* It’s while she’s watching her old memories that we get to see her life before she died. Felicia got to choose what memories she watched while she was in a chamber, so her entire backstory was given to us in a jumbled mess of her favorite memories, mostly about the guy she was in love with.
It was interesting to be a part of this “pick-and-choose” way of reliving the past, but man… it was confusing, to say the least. I think it was intentional to keep the readers on their toes, but I was rather bemused for most of this book. It wasn’t until nearly the end that things made sense. It could have been very annoying, but it kept me reading and wanting to know what was going to happen. Appelhans walked a very fine line, but I think she did it well.
Felicia was a decent character to follow. I loved how strong of a character/person she was. She was troubled, but she didn’t allow it to make her gullible or unable to make her own decisions. For a lot of the story she had no idea what was going on, but she kept her mind the entire time. Love, love, love.
There was this huge secret (from her life before death) that Felcia was apparently super guilty about. It uprooted her entire life et cetera, et cetera. I don’t know if it was just me, but I didn’t think too much of it. I thought it was going to be something way worse than it was. I mean, it was bad, but from the way she was acting I thought it was going to be horrible-times-a-million when it wasn’t. (Honestly, I’m still sort of confused as to what that was all about. Alas.)
As a whole, the story was interesting and decently paced, but at the end I feel like it was a little rushed and too easy. The whole climax didn’t last very long when I wish it would have and some things could have been explained more thoroughly. Still, I’m looking forward to the next book to see what happens next, because I’m completely unsure where this is going… and I kind of like it.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
*There were memory chambers within level 2 that the people could go into to replay their old memories. The people got to choose what they wanted to watch when they wanted to watch it however many times they wanted to watch it. It’s sort of like a giant YouTube of memories, but with some other factors added in.
Note (in case you live underneath a rock like I do and don’t know yet. Haha.): According to Lenore Appelhans herself the title of “Level 2” is being changed to “The Memory of After” when the paperback is rolled out.