“Wrapped up quickly.”graphicstudent wrote this review Thursday, August 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Felicia enters her chamber and selects a favorite memory to soothe her jangled nerves. Felicia is dead. She now exists in a strange afterlife where everyone spends the majority of their time in small hive like structures with individual chambers where one can access all the memories from their life. One can also view memories of other people's life. Existence in this strange place is much like living in a fog of forgetfulness. Everything changes when there is a rumbling and shaking of the hive. Then a set of hidden doors swish open, and Felicia comes face to face with Julian, a boy who caused her a great deal of trouble on Earth. Felicia is soon forced to make a choice. Does she trust Julian and go with him or does she stay in her chamber?
What I Liked:
*I was completely astounded by the complexity of this book. The story line takes place in the afterlife with a bit of sci-fi thrown in for flavor. I very much enjoyed the intricate details of Ms. Appelhans vision of the afterlife. Basically, you have individuals existing in Level 2 which is a holding stage for souls that aren't ready to move onto the next level. While in Level 2, people relive their memories with the hope that they will glean the knowledge needed from their former life that will enable them to move forward. Unfortunately, something has gone awry with the system, and these days people are using memories more like a drug than a learning process. Add in a rebellion, angels, battles and some religious ideas and you have the recipe for an engaging and entertaining read.
*I enjoyed the twists and big reveals especially toward the end. It was certainly exciting to learn the truth behind the rebellion and so forth. I was shocked a time or two, and I definitely wasn't able to foresee some of the developments. If you like books that have a detailed plot with surprises you will enjoy this one.
*I absolutely loved the originality of Level 2. It takes a lot these days to impress me with something new, and I was pleased to find this was unlike anything I have read before. There are plenty of interesting and exciting ideas presented in this one regarding the afterlife. If you are tired of the same old same old in the YA genre be sure to check out this book for a breath of fresh air.
*I liked the way the memories were incorporated into the storyline to fill the reader in on the past events and to help establish the characters. I thought it was very clever they way that they fit into the story, and I especially found the labels, tags, and user ratings interesting, they reminded me a bit of book ratings. All in all, the whole memory concept was a fun and original idea.
*I was pleased that this book refrained from love triangles and a cliffhanger ending. Even though at times, I was a bit concerned that this would move into that dreaded three sided love territory it does not happen. Pick this one up if you are needing a read without triangles and cliffhangers.
And The Not So Much:
*While I for the most part thoroughly enjoyed the utilization of memory flashbacks, I found that sometimes they were a bit confusing because there was no order or time frame for the reader to establish a timeline. I would have very much liked the memories to have a timestamp along with the user rating and tags. Having a date would help me to understand the events better and make the flow smoother.
*I was left a bit confused over Julian and his actions. I just felt like I was missing something on his character. He comes into the story and he appears to be a dangerous bad boy, but as time goes on his secrets are revealed and he becomes even more of an enigma. By the end, I was stunned and I wanted to know more. I have a feeling that his story will be told in further in the next book.
*This book has religious undertones to it. Some of them I appreciated, but I found that I grew a little weary of all the stuff involving Felicia and the church activities.
*Neil came across as being a bit too perfect and wonderful for me. He is the love interest, but I didn't feel drawn to his character. I was more interested in Julian to be honest.
*I was frustrated with the parents. There seemed to be a great deal of resentment and bad feelings between Felicia and her mother, and I was expecting to learn more on this angle, but there is not a lot of information on the mother at all. I felt like this was an important piece to the story and it lacked development.
Level 2 was an entertaining and complex story that focuses on the afterlife with a sci-fi flair. For those who like action, originality and something beyond the ordinary in your reading, definitely check out this book. It is one of the most innovative books that I have read to date for 2013, and I can honestly say that I will be checking out the next book in The Memory Chronicles.
"It's one of those gorgeous spring evenings I can never get enough of, when the trees burst with fresh, impossibly green leaves and the air is fragrant with promise."
"I heard somewhere once that people never truly die while people on Earth still remember them. As long as a person is in someone else's thoughts, a part of them lives on."
"When she gave me the bracelet, she said the dolphins reminded her of us, two faithful friends since childhood adrift in an ocean of constant change."
"I know it might not seem like it now, but there's more to life than parties and studying. The point is to keep trying new things, meeting new people, visiting new places. Once you settle into a rut, no matter how fun that rut may seem, you stagnate. You might as well be dead."
"Can you really trust your memories?"
"It's like church is some foreign country and I missed out on the cultural briefing. I started going because Grammy needed me to drive. I started to enjoy going because Neil was there. But that doesn't mean I've bought into the idea that God cares if I stay pure or not."
"Every relationship has its hurdles....and the big test is if you still want to be with someone despite those hurdles."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated.
Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.
“I'm intrigued... enough that I will want to read the second in the series. Characters and story are not very well developed, I enjoyed the flashbacks more than the present storyline.”Tom R wrote this review Sunday, April 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book had the most unique sci-fi-ish afterlife as its setting. And some angels, but nothing like the other angel-books I’ve read. This was kind of like the Matrix in some ways. There are these chambers that let you relive your memories or other people’s memories. Memories are currency in a way. There were some weird and confusing things, like I had a really had time picturing the hives and chambers. I just pictured a white, blank, uniform world. Like the weirdest dystopia ever. The story was still pretty good. We learned a lot about Felicia by her reliving her memories. There’re two guys she’s kissed, Julian and Neil. Julian just so happens to be in the hives too.
Felicia has done a lot of traveling in her life. Her mom’s job with the government, an international relations diplomat (I’m not sure what the actual title was) has brought her to places like Germany, Kenya, and South America. Her dad’s a pianist and likes to travel and find inspiration in other countries. I’ve never been out of the US, so I found this interesting. And she has a friend named Autumn, who wants to be published and is making Felicia help write the book.
So there’s action, romance, a unique setting, lots of travel and 2 hot guys. And some world-building. It’s a pretty good book. I honestly did not know what to expect going in this. And I also don’t know what to expect with the sequel. I’m interested to know where Felicia ends up and more information on the angels and the afterlife. I really thought the materialization stuff was cool. It’s basically manifesting.
I recommend this book to people who enjoyed the Matrix, The Immortal Series & Riley Bloom series by Alyson Noel, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, and any YA book about the afterlife, and maybe some dystopias.
Cover Art Review: The cover almost hurts my eye to look at because of the neon red-orange and the whiteness. The girl on the cover isn’t bald like the people in the book. I just don’t like the cover, even if the design is kind of cool.
“Level 2 is a book that left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I appreciated that it was written by a blogger - I always love when people I'm familiar with make it in the publishing industry - and I was also intrigued by her idea of the afterlife and found the premise of this book to be very different. But at the same time, I found myself strangely disconnected from the characters and even the plot; while the book was compelling enough in that it kept me coming back and turning pages, I was oddly uncaring about how things would end up. I haven't ever really had that very shrug-like response to a book before, which makes this a review that's a little difficult to write.
First off, let me say that, even though the synopsis promises "two loves," there really is no such thing. That's right: There IS no love triangle. While Felicia has a history with the two boys, and Julian is with her in the afterlife, she is very much in love with Neil. In fact, she finds herself disgusted and annoyed with Julian due to some circumstances that happened in the past, and would never actually get back together with him. So no cookies for the summary writer, because it's very misleading and might put off some people who are thoroughly fed up with love triangles.
What I enjoyed the most from this book wasn't the promised rebellion (which earned a very blah response from me, particularly the fact that Felicia plays such an important role) or even Felicia's moments in the actual afterlife. Instead, I found her journeys into her memories when she would relive her life to be the most compelling. You'd think that a book essentially filled with flashbacks would be clunky, but it really wasn't; everything seamlessly flowed together and you finally saw how Felicia's life was lived. I have to say that Felicia isn't the best character - she did some things in her life that were downright terrible - and I actually didn't find her to be very likable in the slightest. My feelings for her definitely didn't help me connect with her and her plight, and were probably a major contributor to my mixed feelings about the book.
You also have her constant memories of Neil, the too-perfect, church-singing, guitar-playing boy who captures Felicia's heart. While I appreciate that their love wasn't confused with lust, I found Neil to be too unrealistic, because no one is that perfect (and the whole purity pledge conversation and Neil's concern over the town's feelings about Felicia not wanting to sign it also set my teeth on edge, as it felt very judgmental and definitely rubbed me the wrong way). That being said, I did enjoy some of the church-y memories, and couldn't help but enjoy the Underground Church game; I kind of wish our youth group had done something like that when I was growing up!
All in all, Level 2 is a mostly-compelling read. While I personally wasn't really invested in the story, there were aspects that I enjoyed, and I've seen plenty of other starred ratings that place it firmly in the "good" category. If you're looking for a different sort of spin on the afterlife, then check this one out. It's not perfect, but it's still a decent way to spend a few hours. I do wonder about this being the first in a series, though, because things are decidedly wrapped up in this book; I'll be curious to see what the author has planned for the other two installments.
An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.”
“Pretty good.”Coletta wrote this review Saturday, January 19, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I was sceptical upon hearing that a fair chunk of this novel is reliving memories. Sounded like there isn't much going on in the present. But as an avid Family Guy viewer, I'm accustomed to cutaways.
Knowing the author is a fan, and because of the setting based on beehives with drones, [a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiGWj7E0yKY"]Tori Amos' "The Beekeeper" song[/a] soundtracks Lenore Appelhans' debut novel for me. Have no idea if that was intended. (She says, "I'm the one who taps you on the shoulder when it's your time..." Can't remember other lyrics.)
Still, I find the structure of Level Two very confusing. Is it one massive hive, or lots of hives somewhat connected? Are the memory chambers the "holes" of the hive? When the great escape happens, where do the characters go? The problem with a metaphysical world, in which things can be "materialised", is my bearings are to find. A map/diagram would've been helpful.
I also don't understand the "chosen one" situation. Why Felicia Ward? With Earth's massive population, was hers the only soul "reaching out" at that time? And I don't quite get the Morati and the rebels' motives. Further still, I don't comprehend the endgame scene, though it is rather cool. (You know I love mad science.)
Then there are times when things are over-explained. In case you didn't pick up on Level Two's hive-like setting, there's an actual beekeeping scene in Felicia's memory bank. And one of my pet peeves is when a well-known novel or play mentioned/quoted in a story is relevant to what the protag's going through. (That never happened in my teen year.) In this case, it's the play Our Town. Subtlety is not a strong point.
A unique, if bewildering, location lifts Level 2 above its competitors with intriguing technology and questioning the values placed on certain memories. Lenore Appelhans' debut is both fascinating and frustrating, and not to be taken lying down. Come for the weird world where answers elude, but stay for the musical goats.”
“I've been following Lenore's blog since before I knew that she was writing a book. I've enjoyed her blog so I was excited to read her book. But unfortunately, I can't rave about it. And hate that! I always feel so bad.
I do have to say that this book is completely unique. I don't think I've ever read anything close to it before. But I was also continuously confused. I found that I always had questions. Some them got answered through the memories told throughout the book, but others I am still left wondering about. I also got confused about what was going on. There were hives and drones which were bees yet there were drones that were humans. And I couldn't figure out what the rebels were doing and what the Morati were doing.
The parts that I did understand, I liked. I mostly liked Julian, although his part in the whole thing still kinda confused me. And I mostly liked Felicia too, although I never really felt connected with her.
I dunno. I just don't like feeling confused the whole time I'm reading a book. And as for the questions I'm left with, if anyone knows the answers, please fill me in!
**EDITED TO ADD**
Lenore Appelhans is so nice! She emailed me to answer my questions. I added the answers in quotes after the question.
~Why exactly did Julian just leave Felicia the way he did the night Autumn found out about them?"You find out the answer to this in the sequel."
~Why did Felicia stop playing the piano? "Felicia basically gave up on her whole overachieving life, and giving up the piano was part of this."
~Why was nothing found out about Autumn's death? She was found dead in her ex-best friend's bedroom. It couldn't have been a random murder. "
You find out the answer to this in the sequel too!"
“Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales
Quick & Dirty: A girl joins a rebellion while also living though her memories.
Opening Sentence: I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Felicia is stuck in a “hive” where everyone lies around and watches clips of their past life or clips from other people’s lives. But she knows there has to be more than that. Felicia and her two friends are the only ones that spend time outside of their memory chambers. But then Julian shows up and everything starts falling apart. Should she join this brewing rebellion if it means rescuing her friends and finding her boyfriend Neil? Twists and ingenious writing mix to create this wonderfully creative and modern story of romance and betrayal, letting go and holding on, and the past and the present.
I love this book, not because it has a creative story plot or shows great writing technique, but because this story paints a perfect picture of modern churches (not the cathedrals and classical stuff). Also, Appelhans uses “memories” as a way to see someone’s life before they died. It’s like flashbacks, but more creative and actually affects the current story.
Although you don’t see actual Neil very much, you do see him in the memories. The perfect golden boy, with an absolutely amazing voice, and his own share of hurt makes a dreamy (ha ha no pun intended) boyfriend. Although there is hardly any competition in the present, Julian presents a threat in her memories. He seduced Felicia into cheating on her best friend and in general, is a creepy maniac that doesn’t understand the definition of love. So, no angst in this book. It’s Neil all the way!
The book kept a consistent pace from beginning to the beginning of the end (did you get that?). Appelhans does a great job of spreading out the twists and revealing secrets…until the end. All of a sudden I’m bombarded with revealed secret after revealed secret and happy ending after happy ending. It made me pause and go back and read parts again because they went by so fast. A little more description or character response please!
I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for fresh ideas in literature. Although the main theme isn’t romance, the main drive of “loyalty” and “letting go when you need to” overshadows everything anyway. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next book!
“So why isn’t the underground helping people cross over? That would reduce the Morati’s power.”
“It could,” Julian says, “but people access only their happy memories. Or rent the enjoyable moments of others. Not what they need to confront to move on.” He stands up and moves closer until he’s towering over me. “You were no different, Felicia.”
Julian’s right, of course. I did skip over everything unpleasant. I didn’t want to face my pain. My weaknesses. My fear. But his patronizing tone annoys me. “Still sore that I spent all my time on the net with Neil instead of with you?”
To my surprise Julian folds his arms across his chest and squeezes his hands until his knuckles are white. Is he jealous? I can’t fathom it. After all, he’s the one who ditched me.
Mira squints at him and suppresses a smile. “To move on you must embrace both the good and the bad parts of yourself. And you have to stop pining for earthly pursuits.” She shoots me an especially pointed look. “And people you left behind.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, though I suspect I know what she’s insinuating.
But Julian’s the one to rub it in. “To move on, you’ll have to give up Neil.”
FTC Advisory: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing provided me with a copy of Level 2. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.”
“Since Lenore is one of my favorite bloggers, and definitely the one I've been following the longest, I went into this with ALL of the expectations. ALL OF THEM. From that perspective, Level 2 wasn't quite everything I was hoping for, though, if you aren't expecting instant new favorite book of all time, I suspect this won't be an issue. Lenore's book definitely is delightful and unique, though, so do not let the fact that it didn't rise to my insanely high expectations put you off at all.
The first awesome thing about Level 2 is the world building, which is multi-faceted and complex. She reveals new layers of epic awesome as you read through the book, and I have no doubt this will continue in the next book. The world building was definitely my favorite thing, and I loved how Lenore could completely surprise me or explain something that I was at first skeptical of. She makes this work like whoa.
At the beginning of Level 2, I was a bit confused, as, indeed, you're supposed to be. You join Felicia in this weird afterlife; that's about all I knew going into it, and Felicia doesn't know any more than you do. In Level 2's version of the afterlife, you hang out in a room full of pods, spending most of your time watching the afterlife equivalent of YouTube (YouDead? lol), only you're watching your memories, pulled from your mind in high definition and with better detail than you could have done on your own. I totally wrote short story like this in college, though clearly not so detailed, and I loved seeing the idea really fleshed out. Not only can they watch all of their own memories, but they can share them with others, earning currency to buy new memories when people purchase theirs.
Why would you want to watch someone else's memories? To stave off boredom, of course! One small theme running through Level 2 which I really appreciated was the Fahrenheit 451 aspect to the printed word. In the afterlife, books only exist if someone read them closely enough that every word appears in someone's memory. Otherwise, it's gone. That is just so powerful. You'll all be glad to know that I've got Level 2 tucked away in my brain, so we're good. Also, bloggers would have so much currency in the afterlife, since we read so many things!
Of course, there are also MORE things going on, like I promised. I'm not going to go into great detail about the rest of the world building, because I think it's something best left for you to find. I will just mention that there's some awesome stuff that one can do with mind power. Also, Lenore has a wholly new take on angels. I, for one, am always skeptical of angels, because RELIGION, but no worries my agnostic and atheist friends, there's no preaching, I promise.
Felicia, our main character, is not the most likable heroine you will ever meet. I suspect some readers will have difficulties connecting with her. Partly, this is caused by what spending so long constantly replaying just one's best memories will do to someone. She's definitely not a perfect person by any means. She has made serious mistakes with painful consequences, mostly involving an unfortunate attraction to the not-so-trustworthy Julian. She's also one of those people who, if you tell them to stay in the car, will never EVER stay in the car.
Though there were some things I didn't like about Felicia, she worked for me as a heroine. Felicia has spunk and sarcasm, and she's not overly trusting. She does complain, but as soon as she finishes doing that, she throws herself bodily into a task. I don't begrudge someone a 'man, this sucks,' so long as they then do what they can, and she always does. In fact, my one complaint about the pacing of the novel is that Felicia seems to come by her defensive skills too quickly and easily. In this case, I would have liked a training montage or some way to mark time passing.
In addition to Felicia, we have two other super important people I must talk about: Neil and Julian. Yes, there's a love triangle. I know, I know. It's okay, though. This love triangle is made more interesting by the fact that we have a juxtaposition between past and present, and the fact that only Julian is actually present. Though I initially hated Julian, who is definitely too cocky and bad boy-ish for my usual tastes, I'm currently in his team, because he's complex and interesting. I want to know more about him. Neil is too perfect, too high school love, too religious, to hold much appeal for me, BUT I have yet to meet him except in Felicia's favorite memories of him. At this juncture, it's in no way clear which competitor will win fair Felicia's heart, which always helps in a love triangle.
So far as the dystopian stuff goes, Level 2 is not the most dystopian novel ever, but there's obviously some creepy stuff happening because of...whoever's in charge. There will be more dystopian goodness (errr...badness) in the coming books, I am sure.
Lenore Appelhans' Level 2 is a thought provoking read that will put you into an entirely new world. The images will stick in your brain long after you finish. In fact, rewriting this review just before it's meant to publish (since I managed to accidentally delete the original, because I'm an idiot), I find myself wishing I had time to reread Level 2, so that I could catch plot threads that I missed on my first read. I will definitely need to reread before reading the next book. You definitely don't want to miss out on Level 2.”