Published by Simon & Schuster
on January 15, 2013
Source: won ARC from publisher
My summary: Felicia lives in a strange part of the afterlife, a while place filled with pods where girls her age watch and re-watch their memories, living in a kind of strange techological limbo. Felicia is filled with regret over Neil, a boy she was in love with on earth. So when Julian, an acquaintance, shows up and tells her he'll help her find Neil, she's elated. But things may not be what they seem, and Felicia won't know who to trust or what to believe.
My take: I was beyond excited when an ARC of Level 2 showed up in the mail one day -- I'd put my name into a drawing to win a copy. The cover is gorgeous and was done by one of my favorite cover designers -- I have a whole Pinterest board in her honor.
Based on the cover, I was expecting a sci-fi story, with a kickbutt girl shooting laser guns. Well, the joke was on me, because Level 2 pretty much contains every single thing I'm not crazy about in a book: the afterlife, angels, and extensive flashbacks.
But Level 2 was written by a fellow book blogger, so I decided to give it a fair shot. I'm glad I did. While I still can't say that Level 2 is my kind of book, it definitely had its worthwhile moments.
My favorite thing about the book was the story world. There's this bunch of bald teenage girls who died in accidents, all living in a beehive-like pod. Pretty intriguing, right? I read an interview with the author that said she'd been partially inspired by the song Beekeeper by Tori Amos. The girls spend their days saving and watching their memories, which reminded me just a touch of The Giver. In the world of Level 2, others are allowed to rent and rate your memories, similar to likes on a YouTube video.
At least I think I've described the word accurately. I was pretty confused for the first hundred pages. My reviewing notes are full of WHYs? Why are the girls there, watching memories? Why does Julian show up, wanting to help Felicia find Neil? Why did these angels show up all of a sudden? Why does Felicia have to keep stop what she's doing and going into the memory chamber? By the time I'm a third of the way into a book, I like to have some idea of the characters' goals and challenges and understand what the stakes are if they fail. With Level 2, I had absolutely no idea.
The second third of the book was a little clearer, though all the flashbacks remained an issue for me. Then, in the last few chapters of the book, the flashbacks got really interesting and I began to understood what was going on and why Felicia was important to the angels. But I wished that all that hadn't been backloaded into the last few pages.
I'm glad I persevered with Level 2, because I did enjoy those last few chapters. And I found it strangely appropriate that I read much of the book while sitting in the Apple store waiting for a Genius to help me free some lost memories (a.k.a. messed up photos) from a laptop.
Definitely give Level 2 a try if you're a fan of sci-fi, angels, and stories about memory and/or the afterlife. And let me know what you think!