Here is the summary from 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.
Also, it should be known that this is the FIRST book in the series, not the second. I think this may have been an issue because the book is being repubbed with a new title and cover, which you'll see at the bottom of this post.
What I Liked: 1) I loved how vividly everything was described. It was so easy for me to envision everything, from the settings, to their clothes that I really felt like I was experiencing the book, rather than just reading it. The details brought every bit of this book to life for me. 2) The creativity. The use of technology in Felicia's afterlife was such an interesting idea! I thought this was really intriguing, and with how closely it resembled YouTube, that actually made it pretty funny. And this is actually a huge part of the story, because it's through this technology and the desire of everyone to relive their happiest memories that the Big Baddies are even able to pull off their Big Baddie Stunts! This was very cool. And the way they do it, in these little, box things...well, you just have to read it to get the full effect, but trust me, it's kind of like a futuristic virtual reality game. That's how I pictured it anyway. Sometimes I wish I could draw, then I would draw pictures for you to better describe my reviews. I feel that they might be more accurate with illustrations. 3) Okay, sometimes I'm really bad about paying attention to the summaries. I always post them here for you guys, and I almost always read them when I am trying to decide whether or not to read a book. But sometimes the cover alone, or just the first few lines of a summary is enough to get me, and I don't read the rest of the summary. Anyway, so I was surprised to find that this was an angel story. When I think Angels in YA I either go to Lauren Kate's Fallen series, or Cynthia Hand's Unearthly series. But this one was new in all aspects of the angel idea. It was refreshing to see a new take on a subgenre that I've really enjoyed in the past. And Miz Appelhans explores the plot very thoroughly without taking it into minutia that can take too long. 4) Major props for the smooth storylines in Level 2. (I really need to start referring to this book by it's new title, but I personally like the title Level 2.) A jumpy plot can just ruin a story, am I right? The transitions were smooth, the story arcs all intersected seamlessly, everything about the timing in this book was fantastic. I'm surprised to find how much this can affect my personal enjoyment of a book, but absolutely can.
What I Didn't Like: 1) I would have liked more from the characters. I liked Felicia well enough, and we got to know a fair amount about her backstory through her reliving these memories while she was "plugged in." But I felt as if both she and Julian never really came alive as well as the rest of the books did. Everything else about this book was just so vivid and creative that the two characters faded into the background by comparison.
Overall Thoughts: I am definitely glad I read this book. The plot is engaging and jumps right off the page, and everything is described with such lusciousness that it's very easy to find yourself lost in the story. The characters are a little...modest, comparatively, but if you can forgive that one small thing, then the plot will definitely keep you interested. The whole idea is so creative and presented so well that I'm surprised more people haven't decided to check it out. Also, since I experienced this book as an audiobook, I'll say that the narrator does an excellent job of bringing this story to life.
As I said before, this book is being released in paperback in September with the title The Memory of After and with this new cover:
You can find it in the Nook Store under both titles (I know, I checked) for the same price.
My Rating: 4 shots