Title: Level 2
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Teen/YA, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Felicia Ward died when she was just seventeen years old, and she’s been stuck in a sort of limbo ever since. They call it Level 2, a place where she can access her memories and relive her past experiences, but there doesn’t seem to be anything more to the afterlife. That is, until Felicia sees Julian, someone she knew very well before she died, and what he has to tell her changes everything she thought she knew.
Before I get to my review of Level 2, I want to talk a little bit about the author, Lenore Appelhans. If you’re a blogger or familiar with the blogging world, you may know her from her blog Presenting Lenore. I’m happy to be able to call Lenore a friend, and I was thrilled when our blogging friend turned into a successful author. What made me even more excited? Finding out Lenore had written this line into the book when discussing written reviews of memories, “She’s no S.K. Love, the top source for quantity and quality.” Now, you may wonder what that means. It’s an in-joke for all my readers and friends out there. After all, you do know someone with the initials S.K. who has a LOT of reviews (and hopefully, they’re of good quality!)…that’s right, I’m in Level 2! It’s definitely one of the most exciting things to happen to me.
Now, onto talking about Level 2. Felicia’s a great main character. She’s smart and curious, though it’s clear from the beginning that there’s something off about her, something the reader doesn’t quite know. As the story unfolds, the reader learns about the traumas of Felicia’s past, and while they’re painful, they’ve made her an incredibly fierce and loyal person who stands by those she cares about. As a result, she makes a great main character for this novel.
Sometimes, with fantasy/paranormal/dystopian novels, a common complaint is that there’s too much description, too little action. The author gets too caught up in the world they’re creating, and doesn’t spend enough time on plot. That’s not a problem at all with Level 2; the reader is plunged into the action from the very first page. The story moves briskly, so that the reader doesn’t have time to become bored or complacent. The ending is explosive, and in some ways, it felt a little too fast. Rest assured, if you’re looking for action, you’ll find it here.
The world that Lenore builds in Level 2 is also intriguing. There are enough puzzles to keep the reader interested, to make them want to turn the page to find out the next secret, but not so much that they become frustrated or overwhelmed by the lack of information. Lenore achieves a delicate balance in Level 2: a mix among action, character development, and world/story building that’s difficult to achieve. It certainly kept my attention and has me anxious for the next installment.