Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

10861195Book Title/Author: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Publisher/Release Date
: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – January 15, 2013
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Paranormal (hard to say because I thought it would be way more science fiction-y than it was but there are paranormal elements)
Series: Yes. It’s book 1 of The Memory Chronicles
Other Books From Author: None — it’s her debut!

Amazon| Goodreads | @lenoreva |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear! And full disclosure: Lenore is a fellow blogger and friend but I have written my full and honest opinion of the book that has not been swayed by my relationship with author.

When Felicia dies, she finds herself in Level 2 — an afterlife that isn’t quite disconnected from the living but isn’t quite the “next life.”  She and the others in her chamber spend their day plugged into computers where they have access to view all their old memories or the memories of others by way of a very elaborate system of credits. When a girl in Felicia’s chamber suddenly vanishes and a very dark piece of her past enters the chamber, a chamber that nobody on the outside had ever come in, and tells her there is an uprising and rebellion happening against those running the show in Level 2. Felicia isn’t sure whether or not she can trust this mysterious guy, Julian, from her past but her curiosity about what lies outside her chamber, and Julian’s promise to reunite her with somebody important, just might be the push she needs to follow him and align with the rebellion that is taking place.

Truly, Level 2 was one of the most unique and refreshing books I’ve read in a while!  I loved the concept from the start — dying and then your sort of afterlife consists of this “in-between” place where you have access to all your old memories to revisit and there is a credit system wherein your memories can be loaned out and you can borrow other peoples memories. It was interesting to think about which memories I would never want to relive and which ones I’d find myself watching over and over again. I kept thinking about which sorts of memories I’d want to borrow from other people — probably some good travel memories, memories of reading books so I could experience those and probably all sorts of lovely dovey memories because in the afterlife I’m sure I’d still be a sap like that.  So, obviously, I was instantly intrigued from page one as to what Level 2 was and why Felicia was there.

It was just unlike anything I’ve ever read before! The world-building was fantastic! I loved learning how things worked and could picture the pods and the rooms so easily– although I will be honest that at first it was A LOT of information to absorb. But the world is intricate and well built and I loved the pace at which we learned more about what Level 2 is right alongside Felicia as she learns from Julian that there is way more to Level 2 than she knows. I know I couldn’t stop turning the pages just anticipating what the deal with Level 2 was and why there was a rebellion and WHO controlled it. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I loved, loved loved how the story builds through Felicia’s access to her memories and we get to learn more about her through these memories of her life that she chooses to access and through her response to them. More of the pieces start to come together through these memories  and I loved trying to figure out what the deal was with Julian and why he got her in trouble in the past. Lenore moves you seamlessly through the past and the present and I loved that because sometimes flashbacks can be troublesome.  I’d say that the first part of the novel really is less ACTION and more memories and introducing you to the world and then from there there is more movement outside of the chambers and plot twists to boot!

I found myself really attune to  the emotions of this novel.  I felt such a deep sense of sadness at points, I felt anger, the pain of betrayal, longing for what was  lost, the tension, etc. Through the memories we are able to experience the sweetness of how Felicia and Neil fell in love, the shame  and guilt Felicia had for the mistakes she made that hurt her best friend when Julian was in the picture, the intensity Felicia felt when reliving her death, etc. Felicia isn’t perfect and she isn’t always likeable but she felt SO real and well fleshed out and I really enjoyed her perspective.

Up until the end, Level 2 and I were were moving in the right direction and I was thoroughly enjoying it. And then the big climax came and I found myself thoroughly confused. Like I honestly re-read it and still couldn’t really figure out what happened. I don’t know if it changed in the final copy, which I plan to buy so I can re-read, but I felt like we are moving along at a certain pace and then the ending came and there was this flurry of THINGS happening really fast and I just couldn’t keep up or picture what was going on. Remember in cartoons when a scuffle or something would happen and all you would see is a whirlwind of dust and occasionally a splintered chair would fly out or we’d see a pot or pan come outside the dust and then after the dust settles we see a disheveled character with bumps and bruises or something wearing a dress or something. I don’t know if I explained that well but THAT’S how I felt. I have NO idea what was going on there behind the “dust” when the action was happening, but would  catch one or two things, but then when it ended I guess I knew technically WHAT happened but everything was very hazy leading up to it. I really don’t get what happened.

EDIT: I meant to add this in my review but forgot initially. I will let you know that there ARE a lot of religious aspects to this novel. I didn’t personally find this got in the way but others I spoke to did. Just a warning!

Level 2 was a really strong debut — refreshing and unique with great characterization and an intricately built, imaginative world. The presentation of information through the past memories and the present was evenly handled and made for a great page-turner that was a blend of a contemporary novel, science fiction and a paranormal-y sort of afterlife. There were perfectly placed plot twists and revelations and I can honestly say I never knew what to expect from the time I cracked open the book until the very climatic end. I will say that towards the end things sped up and the final scene is a complete blur to me because I have no idea what happened as it happened at break-neck speed for me but that wouldn’t deter me from recommending this! Can’t wait for Level 3 because there is still SO much more to learn and I need to  know what happens to Felicia!

For Fans  Of: unique afterlife stories, YA science fiction/paranormal with a contemporary balance via flashbacks, great worldbuilding



Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Were your thoughts similar to mine or different? Did anyone else have a hard time knowing what was going on in that least scene?  And did anyone else have some serious thinking about which memories you’d never ever want to relive again? And which ones you’d keep replaying over and over again? I pretty much would never want to experience my mother’s death or funeral ever again. On the less serious side, I would not want to relive a breakup or the time I had toilet paper stuck in my pants and flapping behind me as a tween. I’d love to relive some great dates, first kisses, my travels to Europe, sweet moments with my niece, my wedding day and some really fun moments with friends. I have a feeling I’d probably analyze some “what went wrong moments’ in my life. lol

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I adored Level 2! I did find myself thinking about which memories I’d have, the ones that would earn me credit and the ones that I would never want to relive. I’d definitely visit the memories with my Grandmother the most. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since cancer took her. Now please tell me I wasn’t the only one going about my day trying to make it more interesting JUST IN CASE hahaha the days following reading this book. And you’re not alone. I’d analyze ALL of the “what went wrong moments’ in my life!

    • YES I so am with you on that so that I could have better memories to relive haha. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking about memories I’d want to relive or never relive!!

  2. I am suffering from ya sci-fi/paranormal overload, so I am right now avoiding books from that genre, but your great review got me intrigued. I adore books about afterlife, so I am interested to find out more. 🙂

  3. This is one of those books I want to read just from the cover – it’s completely intriquing! Glad to hear you enjoyed it, even with the chaotic ending.

    • I think the cover is a wesome! Yeah, you’ll have to let me know what you think about the ending. Explain it to me maybe haha.

  4. I pre-ordered my copy and I keep stalking Canada Post to see when it will arrive. I absolutely can’t wait and your review is making me want it more now 🙂 It definitely sounds like it’s going to be a great read.

  5. Woah. This book sounds really good! I’ve recently been getting into sci-fi/paranormal more, and I think this concept sounds very intriguing and unlike anything I’ve ever read. I like the idea of an in-between place where you can watch memories. I don’t know if I could do that because I think it would make me miss life, but it’s an interesting concept! I’m going to have to add this to my tbr list.

  6. Yay it’s so nice to find unique books now a days. I’m hoping to read this on the weekend and your review has got me really excited for it!

  7. This sounds really good! I think there’s definitely a lot of interesting elements to it, but the one I’m most fascinated with is the ability to access old memories or borrow other people’s memories. It would be really interesting to be able to do that, and I’m curious to see how it works!

    • It’s so cool! I could picture it so easily and would think it would be SO interesting to be able to buy people’s memories and experience things you never got to do. But I feel like I’d be super private and not want people to experience my memories lol

  8. As I told you on twitter last night, we continue to be book twins/soulmates. Please be okay with this. haha

  9. This was one of my most anticipated books this year, and it’s on my list to read this weekend. I’m really excited but also a little afraid that it would live up to the hype I’ve created in my mind.

  10. I completely agree with you on this one. I was loving it, and then the ending came and I was just like wha wha WHAAAAAT? I will still read Level 3, but I almost felt like the end of Level 2 could have been slowed down and turned into its own book.

  11. HMMM. This is really interesting, what you say here. I just got this one and now I’m SUPER INTRIGUED. On the one hand, I love it when there is a bunch of religious aspects in a book, it doesn’t matter what kind. I like that stuff – I think it adds depth and all that but I know that some people don’t really like it. On the other hand, I can name to you MANY memories of my life that I wouldn’t want to re-live. I’m just very curious! And this dust-cloud whirlwind that you mention? Makes me even more curious. I may move it up on my TBR now that I’ve read your thoughts. You ALWAYS seem to do that to me. Love that it is a strong debut! Plus, awesome cover!

    Great thoughts, Jamie!

  12. I am an oldish adult and I want to read this!

  13. I enjoyed this one as well! I finished it an hour before a signing with Lenore. 🙂
    I was confused at the end too, I get the basis of what happened but I feel like I missed something. I can’t wait for the second book.


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