Level 2 is a futuristic novel set in the blinding white afterlife. Felicia Ward is suspended forever in Level 2, an intangible space and a type of purgatory, constantly replaying memories from when she was eighteen-years-old and alive in Level 1 – Earth. She has replayed one memory over 10,000 times, of Neil, a boy she desperately wishes to see again. When something terrible happens to one of her fellow ‘drones’ Felicia must decide whether to stay plugged into her cathartic memories forever or to fight, escape, and join the rebels.
Level 2 has been on my wishlist for a while, even before I knew what it was about, because the author is none other than Lenore Appelhans, dystopian book blogger extraordinaire! I’m glad to say that I was thoroughly impressed with Level 2, with its fantastic concept and intriguing characters. It’s a stand-out novel within the YA science fiction genre.
I even enjoyed (surprisingly) the incorporation of mythology (but do not worry, it’s not a retelling) and I kept thinking about what it’d be like to revisit memories ( even after finishing) – watching them like you’d watch a movie, replaying your favourite parts, giving them a star rating and sharing them with your friends, tagging them like a post on Tumblr. I also found the concept of the Hive and its claustrophobic, comforting pods fascinating.
A love triangle is hinted at on the back of the book and so I expected it to be the usual scenario, but it’s not at all – it’s much more complex and all is slowly revealed. Neil and Julian are enjoyable but extremely elusive characters and I really wanted to know more about them. I ended up really enjoying that part of the storyline because it meant that the book read a little like a YA contemporary novel with a science fiction twist. It throws up many questions that thankfully are eventually answered: Why does Felicity have nightmares? Why is she angry with Julian? How did she die? I loved the flashback memories, the present drama and Felicity’s slow transformation.
Level 2 is a compelling novel with an exciting concept and it’s immensely fun to read. And as for Felicity? She’s a determined character who constantly questions what the rebels, who suddenly appear out of nowhere, are trying to do. Too many characters in dystopian novels simply accept change, even though I do not believe they would after living a certain way for so long, and so it was exciting to see Felicity constantly unsatisfied with the pieces of information she was being provided, especially by a boy that previously betrayed her in some way (although we do not discover how straight away). I cannot wait to see what happens in Level 3!
Check out my interview with Lenore Appelhans here.
Published: 15th January 2013
Publisher: Usborne (UK) Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (US)
Source: Thank you Usborne for providing this book for review!