Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans

Title: Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1)
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Pages: 288, Hardcover
Rating: 2 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Three levels. Two loves. One choice. Debut novelist, Lenore Appelhans has written a thrilling otherworldly young adult novel about a place that exists between our world (Level 1) and what comes after life (Level 2).

'I pause to look around the hive - all the podlike chambers are lit up as the drones shoot up on memories ... I've wanted to get out of here before, but now the tight quarters start to choke me. There has to be more to death than this.

'Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend ... and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her.

Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.

Warning: I had a lot of problems with this book. My review may be a little harsh because I'm venting my frustration. Other people have enjoyed this book, it just wasn't for me. 

I just didn't get this book so I couldn't enjoy it. I could possibly believe the setting. It was very scientific - there are white podlike chambers where the deceased replay their memories, presumably until they make peace with their life and move on to Level 3 - that was reasonable. What I didn't believe is that the deceased could tag, rate and share their memories over a net with other drones, get credits for number of views and use them to view and rate the memories of others. This just doesn't seem like a ethereal place, even if it is limbo, unless God was born in the 21st century and a teenage girl. 

We do get a (weak) explanation as to why Limbo is like this since in fact this is not how it should be. Something about Angels being smited by God and being vengeful. But I didn't buy that either. It seemed too immature and there wasn't an obvious causal relationship. There were also some elements of Greek Mythology thrown in using the five rivers of Hades and and I though that just came out of left field. The angels and mythology didn't fit with the clinical feel of limbo.

As the story progresses we continually revisit Felicia's memories. Mostly all her memories are centered around her relationships with the two boys: Julian and Neil. Felicia doesn't like to revisit the memories of Julian because they remind her of something bad that occurred. We are led to believe that Felicia did something horrible. She is damaged, she doesn't deserve Neil, she has to atone for her mistakes by caring more for others, etc. I honestly though she killed someone. She stopped eating, sleeping, taking care of herself, paying attention in school - she basically gave up everything and sunk into a state of depression because she kissed Julian knowing her best friend "liked" him. I understand that this was a poor decision, but not unfathomable or hell-worthy for a 16 year old girl. There is an event that follows but I still didn't connect the reaction that Felicia had. I would accept sorrow and unsettlement and maybe a little blame but how Felicia reacted was unhealthy. It was like she died before she actually died.

Also, a lot of the dialogue felt awkward to me. This might not be the best example, but it was one of the first I flagged: 

"He laughs. 'Nicole said you were uptight!' 
'Nicole? Who cares what Nicole thinks?' I sputter. 'I'm not uptight. I'm conscientious. There's a difference.'
Julian pats the sofa next to him. A dare. I sit down, closer to the armrest than him, my posture rigid.
He grins and shakes his head. 'You are uptight! Look at you. Too uptight to play poker, I bet.'
'I've played it. I'm a total card shark. Watch out!' I make claws with my fingers and give him my scariest look."

The conversation continues and it was forced and uncomfortable. We were portrayed a feeling of exasperation and disinterest, not nerves. AND this was right before Julian and Felicia kiss for the first time. It was one of those - I don't like you but my mind just melts into jelly when your near - moments. I found that I was usually thankful when her memories ended and we were back in Limbo. 

There sadly wasn't much action either. There was a distant threat and a skimmed over battle at the end, but not much suspense. The focus is more on the past then the present. 

I'll stop there. I really hate ranting about a book because everyone takes to a book differently. Some triggers for me may not be triggers for you. I'll give credit to Appelhans for trying something different but this won't be a series I'll be continuing with. 
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