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Level 2 - Lenore Appelhans Lenore Appelhans’s debut novel Level 2 is one not to be missed. The originality of the afterlife-limbo while waiting to enter Heaven is an aspect of Level 2 that will have paranormal-, and particularly angel-, obsessed readers reeling for more. This uniqueness stems from the slight science fiction/dystopia that Appelhans uses to characterise Level 2, the place between Earth (Level 1) and Heaven (Level 3). There are contemporary and romance elements that come from the reliving of memories, too, which find their way into Level 2 through Felica Ward, our protagonist. Level 2 is a book that will cater to many, and with the stunning cover design, it will have readers head over heels for this fresh young adult debut.Of course, Level 2 is not all it seems. The marketing team behind Level 2 must have enjoyed twisting and shaping the book into something that it’s not. Firstly, there’s not really a love triangle as the synopsis suggests. If this was a ploy at getting the paranormal readership or just some trope-poking, then they did a good job at it – being mean is not my specialty… but they fell flat with that. Secondly, at first glance I believed Level 2 was a science fiction-dystopia novel and it seems as though it was pushed unbelievably far to reach the current market and the current, but slowly fading, trends. Upon reading, it was a disappointment to find that, even though there are elements of a sci-fi world with the pods that are able to retrieve memories and the Scanners, the mechanical guards of Level 2 you could say, it fell by the wayside and left me, an avid science fiction and fantasy reader, wanting more than what was promised. That’s what marketing is all about, isn’t it? Trying to cater to the majority. Level 2 is a hybrid, so all its elements taken from the variably different and opposing genres are balanced, but if you’re holding out for one over the other, you’ll find yourself disappointed in those elements you don’t care much for.Although we get to see Felicia Ward’s time on Earth before Level 2 – where everything is dull and whitewashed and structured – through memories, I didn’t find myself all that invested in her story (except that I was jealous of all the places around the world she has been to). Appelhans, through the retrieval of memories, gives depth to Felicia’s character and allows the reader to observe her past – her troubling and traumatic experiences and her dear and fondest memories – that lead to her death and deposition in Level 2. This device was executed considerably well (maybe because it reminded me of Assassin’s Creed to some degree), but Felicia became annoying when all she wants to do is return to her boyfriend Neil, who, apparently, is still on Earth. Julian, somebody from her past who attempts to vie for her affections on Level 2 and who also is a member of the upcoming rebellion against the Morati, the angels, the law enforcers of Level 2, coaxes Felicia into joining them by promising that he’ll help her get back to Neil. Yes, this is young adult and a part-romance, but this was a device I found to have held no real merit except to give Felicia something to leave her pod for to make reality than just constantly replaying the memories with him. Is Felicia going to bring down the Morati or leave it all behind to just be with Neil, even after everything she learns about both? Young adult. Hah!I hope in the sequel Level 3 that more focus is centred on the dystopia plot and rebellion against the Morati. That’s a personal taste, but I do also believe it’s what the series needs – it needs more world-building considering ‘Level 2′ was bland, but since it seems as though we will be journeying on to Heaven, Level 3, there may be just what I hope there is. A fault of the development on Level 2 may be attributed to some short cuts taken by Appelhans, such as the supposedly magical ability to just ‘think’ or ‘imagine’ what you want to see and you will see it. Appelhans has developed an engrossing new world, and although it needs more contextual and physical layers, I will certainly be back to experience the Levels again in Level 3. (Appelhans was a wonderful book blogger too before becoming a debut novelist, so of course I’m going to support this gem.)