Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans – Book Review

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Note: I have been friendly with Lenore Appelhans for some time in the book blogging community, but we have never been close, nor even consistent commenters on each other’s blogs. I received my copy of the book from the publisher, not from Appelhans, and this is my unvarnished opinion.

Felicia has been in Level 2 since her sudden death at the age of 18. Her days consist of little more than re-watching memories from her own life. Things are starting to change in Level 2, though. The girl in one of the neighboring chambers dies, but nobody seems to notice. In fact, nobody but Felicia remembers that she was even ever there. It is when Julian,  a boy from Felicia’s past, shows up, though, that things really start to get strange.  Felicia and Julian have a complicated history, and she isn’t exactly thrilled to see him, but she still agrees to go with him when he helps her escape from her hive and tries to enlist her in a rebellion.

Lenore Appelhans’s version of the afterlife is unlike any I have ever experienced: the hives, the memories that are replayed and used as currency. What is more familiar is the ongoing war between good and evil that does not end with death. There are some connections to Judeo-Christian traditions, but at the same time this is not a religious or preachy book in the least. What Level 2 is is an incredibly engaging book. I found myself reading so quickly that I almost felt that the pacing was off. It was me, though, and not the book; when I forced myself to slow down to a normal reading speed the pacing worked well, but if I did not pay attention I would find myself racing through the book at breakneck (breakeye?) speed because of how purely engaging the book is.

In Level 2, Appelhans creates a world and a mythology that is unlike any I’ve experienced before, but that is still believable and internally consistent and is the basis for an incredibly compelling story.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr. – Book Review

The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr.
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, an imprint of Penguin

It is a fairly typical day for lawyer Brek Cuttler: play with the baby, go to work at her law firm, pick up the baby, stop at the store on the way home. The only problem is, she has no idea what happened after all of that. Brek’s next moment of consciousness involves sitting in an otherworldly train station, dressed in her favorite suit and covered in blood. Brek is is now in the afterlife, and she has been chosen to continue her earthly quest for justice by joining the team that presents souls for the Final Judgement.

My oh my does The Trial of Fallen Angels ever have some intense moments! There are a couple of scenes involving Brek’s little daughter that made me have to put the book down and walk away overnight, because they were just too much for me to handle. One of the times I very nearly put the book in the freezer. Moms of young children, this book may just about kill you, be forewarned.

At the same time that The Trial of Fallen Angels attempts to give you heart attacks, it also has some really beautiful parts. I simply adored the theme of connectedness that runs through the stories and the lives that Brek encounters as she learns how to present souls. The threads begin to weave together, illuminating not only the reader but Brek herself as to the reality of her past and that of her family.

The Trial of Fallen Angels is unlike anything I’ve ever read and, although it gets slightly preachy towards the end, it is a moving book with great emotional impact.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
*These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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