Review: Level 2

Author: Lenore Appelhans
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Simone & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 280 (ARC)
Source: Borrowed
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.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Honestly, I don't really know how to put my thoughts about this one into words. I'm speechless...but this isn't one of those good kinds of speechless. I'm confused, slightly frustrated, and all around disappointed because this book was so far up on my wishlist and it fell so far below my expectations. When I found out my friend was going to let me borrow it, I jumped for joy. Now that I've read the book, I've realized that it's very polarizing. There is no in-between. You either love it or hate it. If you were to ask me my stance on the book during the first half, I would have said I was neutral. I liked some aspects of the story and disliked others. If you ask me my stance on the book now, I'd have to say that I unfortunately find myself on the negative side of this very polarizing piece.

I can honestly say that the overall concept of this book fascinated me. I love different interpretations of the afterlife and some sort of limbo. Some are truly amazing in my opinion, and then some just fall flat. While the novel itself fell flat, the creation of this limbo will forever be one of my favorites. Level two is a place that people go when they die, unless they are murdered--they go somewhere else that is unknown. Once in Level two, you go on the net and repeatedly sift through your memories while searching the memories of other. Literally, this is all you are doing. It's a drug that becomes an addiction while your energy is slowly sucked out of you by the Morati, but Felecia is in for a rude awakening when she is recruited by a person from her past that she'd like to escape to join the rebellion. It is then that she has to wean herself from this addicting drug and learn to manifest, no longer at the mercy of the evil Morati trying to break into Heaven.

Fascinating, right? Unfortunately, there are three aspects, in my opinion, of this novel that disallowed such an awesome sounding plot to reach it's full potential. Those aspects are the characterization, the religious themes and references, and the lack of detail. First off, the characterization was all wrong to me. I couldn't connect to Felecia at all. Seeing as she was supposed to be my vessel for emotion, this is not a good thing. Even she seemed detached and unemotional, but her logic was cold. I just couldn't relate and I didn't like her,  nor did I really feel compelled to like her. Sure, I felt bad for her for many things that happened to her in her past, but that's not enough to make me like her. Unfortunately, I hate to say this, but she bought a lot of the things onto herself due to temporary lapses of judgment that she experienced in the moment.

Secondly, the religious themes and references. If I realized that this book had so much religion in it, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. It's not in your face religion unless she takes you into one of her thousands of archived memories at church or dating the head church boy that will never have sex with her, but the themes are always underlying the plot since the whole battle is to save Heaven from the evil angels while taking the side of the good angels who are slightly frustrating and don't always seem that good. I know that religion comes hand in hand when dealing with a book in limbo, but such a thing can be inserted in many different ways. In this instance, I can't deal with the way that everything panned out.

And lastly, there was a lack of detail throughout the book. I almost felt as if things fell into place too simply some times. I want this to happen, so, oh, it's magically going to happen a few pages later. That's how I felt about a lot of things, especially with Felicia's weaning of the addictive drug and her gaining the abilities to manifest. Perhaps I misunderstood, but if you're reliving a memory that is an hour long, I would think you only lose an hour of your life in the hive. It felt like in mere days she went from an addict to someone who could wean herself from the drug entirely. One day, she wanted to manifest, she went and relived a memory and manifested things as if it were nothing right when she came out. And the lack of detail, especially in the beginning and end of the novel, left me with a lot of confusion. Even as I type this review out to you, I can't guarantee that I'm describing things properly because I just didn't get some aspects of this novel. I wish I did, but I just didn't because things weren't always described clearly.

I don't know what else to say about this book. I know people who have absolutely adored it, though it seems that I am on the complete opposite end of the spectrum with this one. Either way, I would give this book a chance if you are into sci-fi/dystopian novels. If not, this isn't one that you should be in a rush to check out. I do recommend going into it with a clear head without allowing my opinions to effect you. As I write this review, I am one of few people that I know that struggled with this one. Come to your own conclusions as you read it if you decide to give it a chance.

1.5 stars



  1. I agree. I struggled with this one too and I really wanted to love it. But the pacing felt off to me with the interruptions of the memories and the weaning of the drug, I wasn't a fan of Felicia either, and I often felt confused. I'm also struggling to write my review. I keep wondering if maybe it was me and I just didn't "get" it. Oh well. I think your review was great. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Aww, that's too bad that this novel didn't work for you. I'm wondering if the things that didn't work for you would be a problem for me as well. I appreciate your honesty! And thank you for sharing! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  3. Aww I been looking forward to this book, but I don't know now. I read several people who didn't take to it either. But a book like what you described, not sure if it's up my alley anymore. I don't like it when things just happen or characters that make stupid decisions, I want a little more out of a book. thank for the awesome review.

  4. Oh no! This is probably the first negative review I've read for Level 2. It's really nice to see an alternative opinion. Such a shame about the protagonist—I really find the "cold, logical" persona to be attractive in theory, as a nice change of pace, but authors almost always manage to alienate their readers. Emotional connection is absolutely imperative for me in a book.

  5. I have been looking and looking for someone else who agreed with me on this book, and I finally found it!!

    I was extremely disappointed in this one, and like you, I could not connect to Felecia at all. She seemed like a 13 year old girl who liked to throw temper tantrums and run off and do stupid things just because she wanted to. She was unreasonable and frustrating to me.

    I also struggled with the religious themes. The focus on sex just really put me out. I would have preferred the focus be on how the Angels fell, why they fell, etc. as opposed to such a polarizing and truthfully, cliche, topic.

    Thanks for the review.

    Here's my latest review (one I love). Would love for you to check it out!
    Through the Ever Night Review

  6. Oh, disappointing. I'll still read it probably, but you did have a good review!

  7. I understand your feelings. The plot idea was intriguing, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. The lack of detail/explanations didn't help. This was a bummer because I really wanted to like this book, both for the plot and because Lenore is such a sweetheart.

  8. I read the free first fifty pages and was pretty intrigued, though I had my issues. Then I read the ARC and my opinions follow yours. I'm a bit more positive, but still pretty disappointed. So sad, since I was so excited to read this. Excellent review, as usual, Lili.

  9. Oh, I thought the book was good. Oh well, I might borrow it instead of buying it. Loved your review.

  10. That bad Huh? I have been on the fence about reading this one. There's been a lot of mixed reviews. Either people loved it or the hated it. I guess your one of the ones that hated! I think I'll skip over this one and put my money in another good book! Thanks for the honest review, (You just Saved My Time & Money).