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Level 2 (Memory Chronicles) by Lenore…
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Level 2 (Memory Chronicles) (edition 2013)

by Lenore Appelhans

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2252751,607 (3.29)7
Member:rjmoir
Title:Level 2 (Memory Chronicles)
Authors:Lenore Appelhans
Info:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2013), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*1/2
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Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

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Felicia Ward died in a car accident and now resides in Level 2, a place where the dead can access their own memories and those shared by others in machines and servers. The vast majority of the residents use these machines and ability to share memories to relive nice, pleasant memories instead of hard ones that would allow them to examine their lives. Felicia is pretty happy with this existence until a girl she's close to unexpectedly relives her death and gets hurt by the malfunctioning machine. Felicia is whisked away in the madness by Julian, someone she would rather not see from her life on Earth. Apparently, she can help with this rude faction of angels called Morati who want to harvest the humans for their energy. Can Felicia help them out and save the humans?

The Memory of After is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed a lot of the concepts: the sharing of memories, the stages of the afterlife, and the faction of selfish angels that are jealous that humans can get to the true afterlife called the Morati. I also liked that people can create things just by thinking about them. Thought is very powerful in this world. If you think you will die or be hurt, you will be even though you are dead. If you think you will be fine, you will be. It seems simple, but it's hard to undo years of conditioning from living on earth. Felicia is an ok character. I like that she is fiercely loyal and unwilling to give up on her friends if there is any possibility that there is hope. Lenore Appelhans' prose is engaging and drew me into the story.

Unfortunately, the book frustrated me in a variety of ways. The afterlife world is based around an odd mix of Christian and Greek mythology. It didn't mesh well with me that angels are totally there as well as the different rivers of the Underworld. The two are like oil and water for me. Having Greek mythological elements without also having anything about the gods was annoying and distracting. I didn't expect it to be quite so religion based even though it's about the afterlife. I don't tend to gravitate towards books like that and it was disappointing to have such an emphasis on it. On Earth, Felicia and her boyfriend Neil are quite religious. I do like that she made her own choices and didn't let him make them for her. For instance, when the church wanted to shame her into signing a purity pledge and she refused even though Neil had signed it. However, she made some mistakes in her past like dating a guy when her best friend was also dating him and running away when she found that same friend murdered. She acted like she literally killed someone and that she was the most morally degenerate person who ever lived. This is one aspect of religion I really hate. Many of them emphasize self loathing and self flagellation after transgressions. The religion and mythos of the world didn't seem to go together and it bothered me.

Some of the the characters were just awful. Julian was a huge jerk even though he has some sort of magnetic connection to Felicia for no reason at all. The freedom fighters in Level 2 didn't care about civilian casualties or using people for their own ends. The Morati were basically a ripped off version of the machines from the Matrix except being addition jealous of humans and bitter that they can't go to the true afterlife. Neil is only slightly better than Julian. His sanctimoniousness makes him insufferable and instead of just refusing when she attempts to initiate any sort of sexual activity, he shames her because of his religion. What a nice boyfriend. Even her best friend Autumn just seemed like her life's work was to be better than Felicia and put her down in passive aggressive ways. There were very few people to root for or even like despite emphasizing morals and religion.

The Memory of After doesn't deliver what I expected. Instead of an interesting afterlife story, we get a weirdly preachy book that fuses Christian and Greek mythology nonsensically with mostly awful characters that I cared nothing about. The only saving grace was the writing I don't really want to read the sequel, but unfortunately I already committed to reviewing it. ( )
  titania86 | Jan 17, 2016 |
LEVEL 2 review posted to Book Sp(l)ot Reviews here ( )
  BookSpot | Dec 18, 2014 |
When I saw the summary for Level 2 back in early December, my reaction went something like this: “Yes! I have to have this ASAP! This is such a me book! Why has no one put this book in my hands yet? So, when is the release date? Still over a month away? How ever can I make it that long?”. As you might imagine, Level 2 quickly became one of the top books I was looking forward to this year, so I got a hold of it as soon as I could, and I’m so glad I did.

I was really hoping this would be a five star book, but it didn’t quite make it to that point. There were a few things I had issues with, so I’ll get those out of the way before I squeal over all the parts I did love. First, Felicia, our main character, doesn’t think highly of herself, and this gets quite annoying after a while. Her thoughts about her past seem to be completely self-deprecating and on the lines of “I’m the worst person ever!”. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Felicia’s made plenty of mistakes, including some pretty major ones, but her constant hatred of herself seems a little overboard and is hard to read after a bit. This gets better towards the end.

My final complaint is that while the book does suck you in, it takes awhile for the main plot to actually start. Most of the beginning is spent in Felicia’s memories. These become necessary to the plot later on, but when it’s not clear how, it seems a bit unnecessary to spend so much time reliving some of Felicia’s experiences. Once the plot really takes off, even the quality of the memories seems to improve.

All right, now that my complaints are out of the way, I can focus on what I do love about this novel. To begin with, the concept. Why aren’t there more books that take place in the afterlife? There’s so many things you can explore there. I’m now convinced that Lenore Appelhans must have found my 10th grade creative writing project in which I wrote a short story about a girl who dies in a car wreck to find the afterlife is a large room with a TV and a DVD player, and you watch a DVD of your life over and over until you get to the point of your death, then the cycle starts all over again, but you don’t remember you’ve already watched your life. Level 2 definitely has a similar vein, at least for awhile, which just made me love it even more.

I’ve read some reviews that state Neil, Felicia’s love interest, seems a little too perfect, and while I think that’s a valid criticism, I actually do know people like Neil, so I can’t say it’s exactly unrealistic. I really like the exploration of Felicia’s and Neil’s relationship. Felicia grows a lot during it, but I feel like there was a good balance of having Neil be a catalyst for Felicia to come to terms with herself while not being the only reason. It can be a bit dangerous to play with the “boy saves the girl” device, but I thought it worked fairly well in the story.

I’m not sure why, considering this story is about the afterlife, but I didn’t expect religion to play such a large role in the story. It fits well by the end, but Felicia’s memories of things like youth groups and meeting Neil at church just seem so normal despite the premise and setting of the story. I really like the plot about the war and the last fifty pages of this book definitely kept me turning the pages as new twists kept being revealed!

Final Impression: Despite a few things I disliked throughout the book, for the most part Level 2 kept me entertaining and wanting to know more. It was so refreshing and original with characters I really grew to care about. This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but I ended up really liking it anyway. I think it’s a worthy read and has me excited to read Level 3. 4/5 stars. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
There are many issues with Memory Chronicles #01: Level 2 (renamed The Memory of After). Weak, forgettable characters, convenient answers, and little world-building are only some of those issues. In spite of these weaknesses, Level 2 is ambitious and creative. Ms. Appelhans attempts to hybridize science fiction and theology. It is a unique mix of genres that would be more effective with more background information and sympathetic, dynamic characters but is still intriguing. Readers will recognize what she attempts to do and respect her attempts. In addition, she cleverly places hints throughout the story, which only become obvious once she reveals the full story. It is an ingenious ploy to bring continuity to a somewhat confusing plot. In all, Level 2 is not perfect, but it is still entertaining and the climactic ending is exciting. There are many unanswered questions that will leave readers curious about the next installment. Those who are less picky about character development and fully-detailed worlds will enjoy it more than finicky readers, but there are still worse ways to spend a few hours.
  jmchshannon | Jun 1, 2014 |
No one is more shocked than me that I actually liked a book so steeped in Christian mythology (you'll remember I tried to get through Cassandra Clare's first Mortal Instruments novel and abandoned ship less than 100 pages in). I guess a healthy dose of "The Matrix"-like set dressing really helps the medicine go down. I liked Felicia; I thought that she was smart and strong in all respects except the idiotic love triangle that it seems all female YA protags are doomed to live through. The last 50 pages really move F A S T, though, and I was left feeling somewhat distanced from the conclusion because of it.

--Somewhat Spoilery Bit--

I both liked and hated that this book basically has the same ending/message as the anime "Neon Genesis: Evangelion." I guess in a book where the pivot could have been "God did it" there are worse endings than this, which avoids that most chliche of cliches. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
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Seventeen-year-old Felicia Ward is dead and spending her time in the hive reliving her happy memories--but when Julian, a dark memory from her past, breaks into the hive and demands that she come with him, she discovers that even the afterlife is more complicated and dangerous then she dreamed.… (more)

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