The basics: Level 2 is the story of Felicia who died when she was seventeen and is stuck in Level 2, which is a sort of limbo between life and afterlife. In Level 2, drones can access their memories, but they also serve as a type of currency: if others watch your memories, it generates credits for you to watch more memories. When Felicia recognizes Julian, someone she knew in her life, and he tries to break her free from Level 2, she begins to learn more about what exactly Level 2 is.
My thoughts: From the first pages, I was fascinated by the world of Level 2 and by Felicia's story. She's a young woman who lived in and traveled to many cities and countries. She's articulate and loyal. Appelhans smartly tells Felicia's story in concurrent narratives: the reader is plunged into the world of Level 2, which Appelhans adds detailed observation into as the novel continues. The emphasis is on plot and character building rather than dystopian world building, yet the details of Level 2 are fleshed out a slow and satisfactory pace.
The reader gets to know Felicia and her past as she accesses her memories. I was struck by the haunting details of each memory. Appelhans includes metadata in the form of user tags (and metadata makes this librarian swoon.) Also included are the video owner's rating and viewer ratings. It's at times heartbreaking to see the difference between those two ratings.
The verdict: Level 2 is an inventive dystopian novel and a fascinating glimpse into memories and their meanings. It balances the puzzles of Level 2 with strongly developed characters who would not be out of place in any world. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing Felicia's journey with her, and I look forward to the next installment of The Memory Chronicles.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 290 pages
Publication date: January 15, 2013
Source: Nicole from Linus's Blanket was kind enough to send me her copy
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