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.
Level 2 focuses on Felicia, who is, as far as she knows, dead and resides in hive-like structure populated by countless more drones (as these dead call themselves) who rarely interact, instead spending their days reliving their memories and the memories of the other drones. The memories are accessed via a pod and are categorized with tags, comparable to the shelf tagging system on GoodReads. In the hives, memories are both the currency and the product. Felicia and her fellow drones have no idea how they’ve come to be in this place after their deaths, nor do they know what their purpose is… and no one seems all that driven to find any answers.
All this changes, however, when Julian, a boy from Felicia’s life, shows up in her hive. It’s clear to the reader that Felicia and Julian’s past is complicated – and perhaps not all that positive – but Felicia leaves with him after he promises to reunite her with her boyfriend, Neil, who she misses terribly and thinks of constantly. While the readers know very little about Julian, they are well aware of how Felicia feels for Neil, as her favorite and most accessed memories all feature Neil.
I really liked how Appelhans used the memories and tagging system to give the reader more information about Felicia. I felt this was a really creative execution of “show not tell” and allowed the author to give character history and detail while simultaneously explaining the world of Level 2.
One of the only reasons that I didn’t love, love Level 2 was the pacing. As I read, I sometimes felt like there was detail where it wasn’t necessary. I could be remembering incorrectly, but I really felt that there were too many scenes of Julian and Felicia running and fleeing and describing the many hives they passed. There were times when I thought to myself: when is something going to happen??
Other than the pacing, I found Level 2 really interesting. I’m especially curious about Julian, who Felicia appears to think so little of, but I can’t help but wonder about. Appelhans did a great job of giving just enough information about characters and events that the reader is left curious and hungry for more detail, so I’m hoping the second book answers some of my questions!
Simon & Schuster BFYR, January 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9781442441859, 281 pgs.