When I first accepted my agent’s offer of representation, I learned one of my agency siblings would be Lenore Appelhans, who—aside from being enviably gorgeous and some sort of crazy productive—wrote a fab-sounding book that I knew I had to read.
Level 2 begins with Felicia Ward, a girl trapped in the level between life and the true afterlife—a purgatory of sleek white walls and memory pods. Felicia feels like she’s been there forever, and maybe she has, sharing her memories as currency and reliving the private memories most special to her, the ones related to her boyfriend Neil. But when a boy from her life breaks into her chamber and offers to help Felicia escape, Felicia takes a chance, and soon finds herself caught in the middle of a war between recalcitrant angels and God—with the entire world hanging in the balance.
I know after reading that, you already went out and pre-ordered. But in case you’re still unconvinced, here is a list of reasons you should readLevel 2:
--Felicia is a real person, with flaws and failures jostling against her strengths; she is determined, smart and a genuinely good friend, but she can also be prickly and petulant and narrow-sighted, and she has to face up to that in order to move on to Level 3. I love it when characters have that kind of depth.
--Visually, Level 2 is a brilliant mix: Matrix-like technology coupled with a vast landscape of smooth white hives and controlling memory pods. It’s the afterlife as designed by Apple, disorienting in its deceptive complexity and overwhelming with its size and circularity and impossibility to navigate. (Much like the real Apple company.)
--Thematically, Level 2 braids together different cultural ideas about the afterlife to create something that seems real, something that seems like it could indeed be the source for so many myths and beliefs. There are angels who are dangerous and ambitious; there are rivers straight out of Greek mythology; there are elements akin to Catholic purgatory; and Level 3 sounds a lot like heaven. The world feels rich and layered, and once I thought I knew everything about Level 2, something entirely different and fantastic would appear.
--The pages fly by. Really. I’m a fairly slow reader and I finished this book in a day. This is one of the most well-plotted, delightful novels I’ve read in the past year.
Now go pre-order!
Bethany Hagen is an author and librarian living in Kansas City. Her debut novel Landry Park will be out in Fall 2013 from Dial. She is represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Media.