Book review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

If you like your young adult novels unique, ingeniously devised, exciting, epic in setting and totally unpredictable in plotline, then head for Level 2.

By Pam Norfolk
Tuesday, 29th January 2013, 9:00 am

Yes, it’s a book to die for... a trip to limbo, the featureless waiting room in eternity where the dead relive memories of their time on Earth before the final journey into Heaven.

And it’s certainly not a sanctuary of peace and serenity, especially when some double-dealing, scheming angels have hatched a plan to keep you there forever.

Welcome to Lenore Appelhans’ stunning, startling debut novel, the first book of The Memory Chronicles, a thrilling series in which life, love and death collide in the most breathtaking and brilliantly compelling way.

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Felicia Ward is dead. She was killed in an accident aged just 17 years and 364 days and now she’s trapped in a pristine, hive-like pod in Level 2 where she endures a relentless and dull nothingness.

She spends her days downloading and replaying memories of her family, her friends and her beloved boyfriend, the God-fearing, good boy Neil whose luminous, pure smile still haunts her.

But there’s one person she has tried very hard to forget – Julian, the boy who broke her heart and ruined her life.

When Julian appears in Level 2, Felicia thinks he is dead too. But he is here to recruit her for the rebellion brewing in this limbo world against the Morati angels who want to suck out human energy to fight their own way into Heaven.

Lured by Julian’s promise that he will reunite her with Neil and that she is the key to the rebels’ success, she breaks out of her pod.

But soon she must make a choice between two worlds, two lives and two loves, and her decision will change everything...

Appelhans’ imagination takes flight with her bad angels in this soaring and seductive account of war in the afterlife.

Along the way she uses heaps of insight and sympathy to tackle big emotional themes like the nature of love and friendship, loyalty, betrayal and the importance of letting go.

She also gives us a rip-roaring adventure story which is packed with surprises, crackles with the tensions of young love and sweeps us away on the fast-beating pulse of an intriguing mystery.

Her characters are people we come to know well, whose back stories draw us into their deadly predicament and make us long to find out what their future holds.

It’s going to be purgatory waiting for the next in the series...

(Usborne, paperback, £6.99)