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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Release Date: January 15th, 2013 (My Birthday!)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC
Age Group: Young Adult

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 prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in 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.

Level 2 is such a unique story. I am certain I have never read anything quite like it. It’s so well written, I was drawn into the story almost immediately, but in the first few chapters I had no idea where she might be taking the story and I don’t think I could have imagined exactly what it ended up being.
We spend parts of the story with Felicia in Level 2, where she interacts with the other “drones” in her hive, and eventually the people who break her out of her hive. These moments of her new reality are interwoven with her reliving the memories from her past. She is able to plug-in to the net in Level 2 and select memories that she wants to experience again. While she is trapped in the hive, this is how she passes the time, but after she is broken out the memories actually serve to make her stronger. I really liked how the memories broke up the story. We don’t get to relive her memories in any specific order and most of the time they are only small glimpses into her life, but the more memories we get to see the more things that get pieced together and there is a better sense of who Felicia was and what’s really happened to her.
Once she fully commits herself to the rebellion, she starts to learn how to harness the abilities she has from being in Level 2, and then we get to see a fiercer Felicia. She doesn’t want to be used as anyone’s pawn, but she is determined to find those she cares about and make sure no one hurts them.
The world building and imagery in this was fantastic, as well. Level 2 was a fairly simple landscape, but it had different aspects that painted a very detailed and vivid picture. I could definitely imagine myself standing right next to Felicia, seeing the hives and the mainframe.
This is the first in a series, and I’m so excited to read more about this world, but I felt that the ending was very satisfying. There are things that haven’t been fully explored, and I’m definitely curious about, but she did an excellent job of leaving the story with a decent amount of resolution. Definitely a must read and carve out some time, because this book is so compulsively readable, that you won’t want to put it down :0)

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