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Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
3 of 5 stars
After her death, Felicia Ward finds herself trapped in a purgatory-like hive where she re-visits memories of her life, until an ex-boyfriend shows up, promising to rescue her from her strange limbo.
Despite my chamber’s cold, metallic appearance, it is a remarkably ergonomic setup. Whoever designed it — God? Angels? Evil overlords of death? — sure knew what they were doing.
The first half of this book exceeded my expectations. The strange, hive-like purgatory intrigued me, and the flashbacks of Felicia’s life that were replayed for her piqued my curiosity about her dark secret, why she didn’t feel that she was good enough for her squeaky-clean boyfriend, and what would happen when he found out. I was glued to the book for a couple hours while I tried to figure out who Julian really was and what he was doing in Felicia’s bizarre afterlife.
The second half, however, didn’t live up to its intense, can’t-put-it-down beginning. I kept getting tripped up by inconsistencies and things that just plain didn’t make sense (for instance, [highlight for spoiler]WHY would Julian pretend to date Autumn when it was obvious he wasn’t into her at all?[/spoiler]).
Neil’s dedication to his faith at first impressed me, but the deeper into the story, the more the religious elements felt too fake, too forced, too much what non-Christians think Christianity is like. Also, it felt strange to have such blatant Christian elements — the church services, the sermons, the teen group — but also then have such un-Biblical elements (such as purgatory itself, which didn’t seem to phase Neil one bit, though he obviously wasn’t Catholic).
The ending left me feeling unsatisfied, as if the explanations given were too simple and there were parts that were lies, or things that we’re supposed to forget about so that they can come into play later in the series (for instance, [highlight for spoiler]Why was Autumn’s case still open; wasn’t it obviously a suicide? But if it was, why wasn’t she in Level 2?[/spoiler])
Overall: A neat concept, and a story that held my attention, but the ending just didn’t do it for me.