Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just Finished Reading: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
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!

37 comments:

  1. I have heard a lot of buzz about this book, and I'm not completely crossing it off my list, but it's not a huge gotta-read priority. The cover is kick ass though, and I'll probably eventually buy the book just to help out a fellow blogger. ;)

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  2. Huh. I was totally with you on what I thought the book would be about. Though I did hear something somewhere that it was a bit religious. But I don't think angels at all when I see this cover. I'm glad you liked the ending, even if the book wasn't your cup of tea.

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    1. Well, the angels aren't the whole thing. It is sort of futuristic. And I still don't understand everything!

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  3. I borrowed a copy of this and was hoping to read it tomorrow...possiblY.
    Can't say that I really realised it had angels and stuff in it, I just liked the cover!
    I tend to get easily confused in books with complicated storylines, so hope I'm not going to spend all day wondering what the hell is going on!
    Thanks Jen, I'm definitely going to give this a try!

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  4. I'm glad that in the end you liked this. I tried, I really did. I read more than half and gave up. I didn't like the MC and all the back and forth wasn't really explaining much. After giving up I did read the last few chapters, and they were interesting, but I don't know that I would have enjoyed the book anyways. Great review.

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    1. I don't like feeling confused, and it was tempting to give up!

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  5. I normally love stories with flashbacks so that's exciting to learn. I am sad that the kickbutt girl from the cover is not really an accurate description of the book as that was one of the reasons I was initially interested but I still definitely want to check this one out.

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    1. Yay -- a flashback fan. I'm not completely anti-flashback, but these flashbacks were mainly for character development, which I would have rather seen in the present.
      Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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  6. This sounds like my reading experience with Mind Games. I wasn't sure about it until it was almost over lol

    I don't know how I feel about this one - I had NO idea it was about the afterlife, angels, and extensive flashbacks. I thought it was sci-fi too.

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    1. Well, it is science fiction, just not as action-oriented as the cover might suggest. Kind of like The Giver meets Inception or something.

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  7. Wow. It sounds like this book has a lot going on! I do love myself some sci-fi and don't mind a well placed flashback but I am struggling to get behind angels. I have enjoyed angels in adult fantasy/sci-fi stuff (Sharon Shinn) but YA seems to struggle with their angels. I know this is on order at the library so it may make its way onto my list. Thanks!

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    1. There aren't a ton of angels, but this book is definitely about the afterlife.

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  8. On the surface this book sounds like its everything I usually hate in books. Angels, afterlife, flashbacks. Just not a fan. But it does sound like it could be a really interesting world to read about. Great review :)

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

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  9. I loved this! I thought it was an awesome and unique take on the afterlife and angels. Julian drove me nuts but through flashbacks I began to understand him and fall for Neil. Neil was a bit religious but I thought he was great for Felicia. I knew that there were there for energy Matrix style but I was confused why Felicia was so important for most of the book. But I still enjoyed it!

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    1. See, and you don't like books with religion! There's not a lot of theology in here, but it does take place in the afterlife.

      Glad to find a fan!

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  10. I've been wanting to read this one, but angels... hmm. I've been staying clear of those book lately. But I'm still really interested, probably because of that awesome cover! :)

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    1. They are not like paranormal romance kinds of angels, if that helps any.

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  11. I really don't like to be confused in my reading & for 100 pages - no thank you.

    It sounds too weird for me actually.

    I do NOT like flashbacks - in my reading or movies.

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    1. The confusion part is hard for me. I'm a bit of a control freak and feeling lost for that long was very difficult for me.
      I don't mind some flashbacks, but this book had a lot.

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  12. Angels? I didn't know about that, haha. I do like angels now and then, so I might be using this one for my paranormal reading challenges. I love the concept from this book and you are right: the cover is gorgeous! Great review.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. It's really more science fiction than paranormal, but IDK... there are angels and the afterlife. So go for it!

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  13. I'm not exactly a fan of books that confuse me but this book looks so good! Plus the cover is really cool.

    Thanks for the great review, and I also wanted to let you know that I love your new blog design! Super pretty!

    Michelle @ book briefs

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  14. I love sci-fi and while books about the afterlife aren't always a fave, there are exceptions (I really enjoyed Touching the Surface.) But angel books and I have a love/hate relationship. Currently I am LOVING them (because I am reading the Unearthly series) but I think what I like most is angel history. I love learning about the Nephilim, Fallen angels, and i love it when specific angels are mentioned from the Bible and other religious texts. So I am not sure whether Level 2 will resonate with me. But I would like to give it a try since it was written by a fellow blogger:) Great review, thanks for the insight!

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    1. I also love books that feature theology -- I did everything in my power to get out of Sunday School and as a result my knowledge of religion is sketchy -- but I wouldn't say this one does. Give it a chance and let me know what you thought!

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  15. Teehee, maybe that Apple store is actually Level 2 in disguise! XD I'm not so sure if this is a book I'd enjoy. The premise sounds really bizarre, especially with the whole angel thing. And confusing books... well, I just don't like that. I might give this a try if I feel like it, but I don't think I'll be bumping this up the TBR pile soon. Thanks for the review; I didn't really understand what this book was about before.

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    1. That's exactly what I was thinking. It was strangely appropriate.

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  16. I hear that it's amazing but I'm kind of on a science fiction/dystopia/futuristic ban. I just felt like there was too much of it last year. So I'll buy it but I might set it aside for a while.

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    1. I hear you -- but this book is pretty different from most of the YA I've read this year. So don't let that stop you!

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  17. I didn't think this one was going to be for me, but now I'm intrigued...

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    1. You just want to tell me you weren't confused by this book. Admit it!

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  18. Oooookaaaaayyyyy....well now, THAT is NOT what I thought this book was about!! Alrighty then. I don't know if I was over-relying on the cover (LOVE), or if I just didn't pay attention enough when I read the summary, or what - but...I dunno about that. Huh. I actually am someone who loves flashbacks in books, I have absolutely no problem with that. I also am glad to know that you say the angels are more like sci-fi/visions of the afterlife angels and NOT paranormal romance angels - because I'm not a fan of the latter. However, ever since I had a kid and discovered what folks mean by "mommy brain," I no longer force myself to finish something I'm not connecting with, and I'm not sure I will connect well with something that I'd still be confused about 100 pages in!! Kinda disappointed to hear this. I'll most likely still give it a try - from the library! - but I'm not sure how I'll end up feeling about it. Glad I read your review, thanks for the heads up!!

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    1. Yeah, I have some "mommy brain" myself, so when a book confuses me I like to check in and see if I'm the only one. There were definitely some other reviewers who were confused for a good part of the book.

      But two of my great blogger friends, Jen @ Some Like It Paranormal and Jen @ Starry Eyed Jen both loved this. I just have a very low tolerance for not understanding what's going on in a book. I'll put up with it for 50 pages or so, but after that, it makes me crazy!

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  19. I really wanted to like this book because it sounded like such a cool concept, but I was disappointed.

    I loved the whole memory concept where you could view and rate memories. I thought that was a clever detail, and I thought the memories were some of the most vivid parts of the book.

    I thought the world building of Level 2 needed more logic and rules and setting development. And I didn't feel invested in the rebellion at all. I thought we needed more development of the Morati to really be against them. I also thought there were too many big reveals at the end too quickly.

    My review is coming out later this week. But I'm glad you enjoyed it, especially since you aren't a fan of after life or angel books. I'll have to keep an eye out for this cover designer because I agree that the cover is awesome!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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