Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: Level 2 (Audio)

Summary: 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. -- Random House Audio

A few years ago at BEA, Lenore Appelhans told me that she had written a book and it was going to be published. As a fellow blogger and friend, I was thrilled for her and couldn't wait to read her novel. She told me that it was called LEVEL 2 and then she proceeded to give me a brief description of her book. Of course, I can't remember exactly how she described her novel, but I do recall that it was about a teenage girl living in "Level 2" of the afterlife. Since I am fresh off listening to this story, I can now fill in a few more details for you.

Felicia died unexpectedly before her eighteenth birthday and is now living in Level 2, part of the afterlife that exists between our world and the next. Basically, all Felicia and the other drones can do all day is access their memories and relive them. Naturally, these memories are bittersweet; and often times, Felicity longs for the love of her life Neil.

But then, some very odd things begin to happen in Level 2. A drone is found dead and no one remembers her at all... except for Felicia, and then Julian a boy from her past appears and offers her a way out of Level 2... and a way to see Neil again. The problem is that Felicity has to join the fight against the Morati, or the angel guardians of Level 2; and that battle will prove to be more challenging than she could ever imagine.

I am the first to admit that I read LEVEL 2 because I know and respect Lenore. This type of young adult book is not my usual reading fare, and quite honestly, I'm not sure I can judge whether a futuristic YA book is good or not. Having said that, I feel that I have read enough books to tell you that there are some very special things about LEVEL 2.

First of all, I was blown away by the overall premise of this novel. I thought it was extremely creative and original, and I loved how she can up with not only the concept of a Level 2 but also how she brought it to life. Her descriptions of the physical appearance of the level were terrific, but I think she did an even better job of coming up with the idea of memory retrieval. I liked how Felicia would access her memories, both good and bad; and I thought the user ratings were a nice touch!

Another aspect of LEVEL 2 that I liked was how she presented the story. The story took place some time in the future in Level 2; however, because of Felicity's memory retrieval, there were flashbacks to her past. As a reader who isn't a huge fan of science fiction and futuristic stories, I appreciated that a big part of this novel took place during the present because I could relate better to the story. I thought the "blasts to the past" were very helpful in making Felicity more likable (or human, if you will), and Lenore did a very good job of transitioning back and forth between the time periods.

Finally, I appreciated some of the themes and lessons in the novel. There were many religious references and quite a few to the play Our Town. (In fact, I was tempted to reread Our Town because I could only remember the general gist and a few scenes; however, I think what I remembered was enough!) In addition, I liked her concept of the afterlife and the role of "angels," and it actually gave me a few things to ponder. Also, the messages that our past does affect our future and the importance of redemption were valuable ones in this novel. None of these themes or messages were so obvious as to hit me over the head, but they were there; and I think most teens will pick up on them.

The only issue I had with LEVEL 2 (and it might not even be an issue) was the pacing of the story. The ending of the novel was definitely much more fast-paced that the beginning, and I guess it should have been because that was when the action/adventure was taking place. I think part of my problem was that I was listening to the novel rather than reading it, and some of the action became a bit too much for me... and I got a little confused. Unfortunately, I couldn't go back and re-read for clarification -- I told you I'm not the ideal reader for these types of books. I have no doubt that most readers would not have any problems following this novel!

As I mentioned earlier, I listened to the audio book of LEVEL 2 read by Jenna Lamia. I thought she was perfect for the role, and she definitely captured the essence of a teenage girl. She immediately became one with Felicia in my mind and I liked how she interpreted the scenes. You can listen to a clip below:

Overall, I enjoyed LEVEL 2 despite being outside the target audience, and I am extremely happy for Lenore's success!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this audio book.


bermudaonion said...

I'm thrilled for Lenore as well! I went to an event for her last weekend and she did great!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I do want to read this. I love the premise also!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm on disc 5 right now with this book. I'm not a dystopian YA person either, but I had to do it for Lenore. I find that the accessing memories instead of your typical flashbacks is creative. Sometimes flashbacks can be confusing, but here, you get tags and things to help you figure out what the memory pertains to.

Ali said...

Nice, honest review. I'm glad to hear that you liked it, because dystopian fiction is not my usual genre either and yet I'm so excited to crack open my (library) copy in a few days.

Beth F said...

I really liked the audio of this.