Goodreads: In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
First of all I want to give thanks to PulseIt, which I recently joined. I had wanted to get this up a little sooner to give people a chance to head over and read the book, but I've got a concert and audition this week so I'm a bit swamped. PulseIt is part of Simon & Schuster, who put up an entire book for a week on the site! Isn't that exciting?! It also puts excerpts of books out as well, so definitely head over there and join!
I am so torn on this. On the one hand the concept of the story is fantastic...on the other hand, the execution wasn't. The best way to describe the concept is to say it's a little bit Matrix, a little Amber Spyglass, with a touch of Elsewhere. I loved the tension that Appelhans builds by having Felicia access her memories - so we're experiencing the story in real time, with very little knowledge of Felicia's past. The story is driven by having a protagonist with complex relationships with those in her past. She's no Mary Sue - for most of the memories, particularly the earlier memories revealed, you are shown the girl who betrays her best friend, juxtaposed with the sweetness of her romance with Neil budding. There are a lot of questions answered as the memories reveal new information...usually leading to even more questions. Unfortunately, when the mysteries are "revealed" the explanations were meager and rushed. Maybe she's going to address this in the next book, but I left the book feeling dissatisfied with the explanations I was given.
Again, the idea behind this is just brilliant! Unfortunately so much is just brushed over. While Felicia's the mysteries and relationships in her past drive the story, the sci-fi aspect was much less interesting. The real time was convoluted and I quickly lost interest. I think the concept behind what was happening - rebel angels, afterlife, etc. is what drew me to the story in the first place. It's a novel concept - it has clear inspirations from other stories (it even references Matrix in the book which made me laugh as I was starting to wonder if that's all this was going to be. The author understood and addressed that with the one comment which I appreciated), but the concept is all it's own. Unfortunately not enough time and depth was given to this storyline. It is completely eclipsed by Felicia's past. This could have been forgivable, but time needs to be taken especially during the ending. The rebel angel explanations were confusing and while explained more than once, none of the explanations were very clear. It forced the main character to do things for very little reason, and I would have like a little more depth to flesh out the situation. It would have made the battle more epic (although admittedly it did have some pretty badass moments). And then there was the ending. I understand that there is a sequel, but this feels like an ending that could have been the end of the book, no series continuation. It was rushed, and a bit trite. Again, if there had been more time taken with this, I would have had no problem with the way it ended. It just wrapped up way too quickly, and way too neatly. I can't really give a full critique for the ending as I don't want to ruin the ending for those of you who don't want to know, but I'm posting spoilers on a different blog with the rest of my critique so check it out if you don't care about knowing the ending!
I find it's hard to write how much I enjoyed and was frustrated by the book. I feel as much as I vented about the book I am still not expressing just how annoyed I was with the ending (I literally fell asleep thinking about all the things I was going to write about how mad I was about this book). At the same time I've spent very little time saying all the things I did like about the book - there were some I promise! I think it's why I'm so annoyed - this book had the potential to be one of the best I've read all year, and in the end it was just ok. It wasn't even a BAD book, I just expected it to be amazing.
To sum it up, this book IS a fun read. It's absolutely heart-racing, but unfortunately the ending falls short. If you want to read some suspenseful fluff (is that even a thing?) check it out at Pulseit - it's going to be online through the 28th!
Amber Spyglass Review Elsewhere Review