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.
Level 2′s plot stands out as one of the most intriguing ones I’ve come across recently, with a blend of sci-fi, paranormal, and contemporary genres. In Level 2, the afterlife is where you rewatch memories in hi-tech pods, either your own or “rented” from others with credits. I’m drawn to creative world-building, and Level 2 has that. At least the beginning traces of one. Unfortunately, Level 2 desperately needs at least a hundred more pages to flesh out ideas, plot, setting, and characters. I have no idea how I read 288 pages without a solid grasp of any of these elements. One of the things that kept me reading was the fast pacing, but even that fell apart towards the end and felt like a cheap gimmick.
It doesn’t take long to realize that Level 2 LOVES its cliffhanger chapter endings–to the point it’s overused. It was like the author made a list of all the plot twists she could have and started inserting them to the end of her chapters. Scene changes don’t signal a chapter break, instead plot twists or big revelations do. You know a chapter is ends when characters suddenly go missing, or something catches on fire. I understand that Appelhans wanted to retain the reader’s attention by not giving them a chance to break away from the story, but it felt like a gimmick. I love a good twist any day, but I grew tired of them in Level 2 because they were so abundant, as if the author didn’t have confidence in her story. It was cheap plot twists not characters that carried the story.
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