Title: Level 2
Author: Lenore Applehans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
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.
Oh my goodness. What can I even say about Level 2? I just loved it so much I can’t even. It was so good, and so sexy. Which I guess is a little weird to say because there was no actual sex, and the relationship between Neil and Felicia was actually pretty tame for a YA book. I think maybe it was sexy because of how smooth and clear the writing was.
But back to Neil and Felicia. I think I’ll start there. I really enjoyed reading about their relationship, getting little doses of their lives on Earth through Felicia’s memories. Their relationship just seemed so honest and genuine and pure, which is really hard to find in today’s YA lit, where most of the couples are struggling with being sexual. There was a little bit of that struggle in this book, but Applehans really focused on Felicia and Neil’s getting to know each other as people.
Neil was an interesting character also because of his involvement with religion. Normally, mentions of religion or God will turn me off to a book, but in Applehans’ debut, it made perfect sense due to the books exploration of the afterlife. I absolutely loved how she tied in Christianity, mythology, and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. All of those elements fit together really nicely in unexpected ways and made Level 2 an even more interesting read.
I particularly loved the parallels Applehans drew between Our Town and Level 2. Near the end of the book, she describes the scene after Emily dies when she goes back to revisit her twelfth birthday, and when she comes back it is explained to her that her job in the afterlife is to forget and move on, which Felicia has to do as well.
The thing that made it only a four out of five for me was the ending. Don’t get me wrong; this book had some great twists and turns and resolved and answered all the questions I had really well. I just felt like the ending was a bit rushed compared to the pace of the rest of the book. I think Applehans could have stretched it out a teensy bit more, but the ending was still fairly satisfying despite the pace.
Overall, I really loved Level 2. It was exciting and fun with great, complicated characters. Every piece of the Level 2 puzzle and Felicia’s life fit together and were revealed perfectly, making this book the definition of a page-turner. This was a fantastic read and I want to be first in line to get Lenore Applehans’ next book.