Happy Thursday! I have a fantastic guest post and giveaway for you all today. The wonderfully talented Lenore Appelhans is stopping by with her debut novel: Level 2. This is a fantastically complex book about the after life with a Matrix type feel to it. If you are looking for something different definitely try this one! Before we go further, though, I want to introduce to Lenore:
Thanks to her father's job in the US military, Lenore Appelhans became addicted to travel early. To date, she's visited nearly 60 countries and has stepped on every contintent except Antartica. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and three fancy Birman cats. Her novel, The Memory of After (published as Level 2 in hardcover by Simon & Schuster BFYR) is "immensely layered" (VOYA) and "a griping debut" (NYT Bestselling Author Megan McCafferty). The second book in The Memory Chronicles, Chasing Before, is due summer 2014. She has been blogging about books at Presenting Lenore since 2008. Also find Lenore on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.
Lenore's book Level 2 will be getting a new cover and a new title when the paperback version releases this fall. I was interested to know why the book was getting a new title so I asked Lenore to explain it to all of us. Here is Lenore:
My debut novel, LEVEL 2, came out in January. In September it will come out in paperback with a new cover and new title: THE MEMORY OF AFTER.
This change garners two main questions: 1) Why? And 2) Which title/cover do I think fits the book best?
The answer to 1)
Feedback from the S&S sales team showed that many potential readers thought LEVEL 2 was a sequel because of the “2”.
The answer to 2)
This is more complicated, because I think each title/cover brings out different aspects of the story.
Let’s look at LEVEL 2 first.
LEVEL 2 was always the working title for the novel. LEVEL 2 (a level of the afterlife) is the level that comes after LEVEL 1 (what we are living now). I love this title because it promises action and mystery, but I can also understand the confusion.
The art director, Lizzy Bromley, constructed a plastic tube as a stand-in for a memory chamber. The model didn’t have much space to move around, but she struck an active pose – giving Felicia a very determined look that fits well with her character. The dots on the cover symbolize the rows of hives that exist in Level 2.
Now, let’s take a look at THE MEMORY OF AFTER.
Once the team at S&S decided to try a new title, they had a brainstorming session and I had a brainstorming session and then we discussed ideas in a telephone conference (me, my agent and the head of the imprint, Justin). When I mentioned the title THE MEMORY OF AFTER as a possibility, Justin got excited. That was a favorite of the S&S team that they came up as well. Great minds, right?
I think the new title speaks more to the complexity of the narrative (there are three separate timelines) and promises more psychological depth.
The cover image was taken from the original photo shoot, but Lizzy gave this cover incarnation more elegance, especially with that gorgeous type treatment. I like that both covers are predominately white (very fitting for the stark white world of Level 2), and though I do miss the pop of orange/pink color on the LEVEL 2 cover, I love how Lizzy worked with the black/white dichotomy when creating a series concept for THE MEMORY OF AFTER and the sequel CHASING BEFORE.
So my verdict? I love both!
Take a look at the Making of the LEVEL 2 cover:
Very interesting stuff Lenore! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us all the details that go into making a book cover. Which cover do you prefer? Lenore is offering a chance to win a signed copy of Level 2 and bookmark to one lucky U.S. resident. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Level 2(Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans
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.
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher in exchange for an unbiased review
Felicia enters her chamber and selects a favorite memory to soothe her jangled nerves. Felicia is dead. She now exists in a strange afterlife where everyone spends the majority of their time in small hive like structures with individual chambers where one can access all the memories from their life. One can also view memories of other people's life. Existence in this strange place is much like living in a fog of forgetfulness. Everything changes when there is a rumbling and shaking of the hive. Then a set of hidden doors swish open, and Felicia comes face to face with Julian, a boy who caused her a great deal of trouble on Earth. Felicia is soon forced to make a choice. Does she trust Julian and go with him or does she stay in her chamber?
What I Liked:
- I was completely astounded by the complexity of this book. The story line takes place in the afterlife with a bit of sci-fi thrown in for flavor. I very much enjoyed the intricate details of Ms. Appelhans vision of the afterlife. Basically, you have individuals existing in Level 2 which is a holding stage for souls that aren't ready to move onto the next level. While in Level 2, people relive their memories with the hope that they will glean the knowledge needed from their former life that will enable them to move forward. Unfortunately, something has gone awry with the system, and these days people are using memories more like a drug than a learning process. Add in a rebellion, angels, battles and some religious ideas and you have the recipe for an engaging and entertaining read.
- I enjoyed the twists and big reveals especially toward the end. It was certainly exciting to learn the truth behind the rebellion and so forth. I was shocked a time or two, and I definitely wasn't able to foresee some of the developments. If you like books that have a detailed plot with surprises you will enjoy this one.
- I absolutely loved the originality of Level 2. It takes a lot these days to impress me with something new, and I was pleased to find this was unlike anything I have read before. There are plenty of interesting and exciting ideas presented in this one regarding the afterlife. If you are tired of the same old same old in the YA genre be sure to check out this book for a breath of fresh air.
- I liked the way the memories were incorporated into the storyline to fill the reader in on the past events and to help establish the characters. I thought it was very clever they way that they fit into the story, and I especially found the labels, tags, and user ratings interesting, they reminded me a bit of book ratings. All in all, the whole memory concept was a fun and original idea.
- I was pleased that this book refrained from love triangles and a cliffhanger ending. Even though at times, I was a bit concerned that this would move into that dreaded three sided love territory it does not happen. Pick this one up if you are needing a read without triangles and cliffhangers.
And The Not So Much:
- While I for the most part thoroughly enjoyed the utilization of memory flashbacks, I found that sometimes they were a bit confusing because there was no order or time frame for the reader to establish a timeline. I would have very much liked the memories to have a timestamp along with the user rating and tags. Having a date would help me to understand the events better and make the flow smoother.
- I was left a bit confused over Julian and his actions. I just felt like I was missing something on his character. He comes into the story and he appears to be a dangerous bad boy, but as time goes on his secrets are revealed and he becomes even more of an enigma. By the end, I was stunned and I wanted to know more. I have a feeling that his story will be told in further in the next book.
- This book has religious undertones to it. Some of them I appreciated, but I found that I grew a little weary of all the stuff involving Felicia and the church activities.
- Neil came across as being a bit too perfect and wonderful for me. He is the love interest, but I didn't feel drawn to his character. I was more interested in Julian to be honest.
- I was frustrated with the parents. There seemed to be a great deal of resentment and bad feelings between Felicia and her mother, and I was expecting to learn more on this angle, but there is not a lot of information on the mother at all. I felt like this was an important piece to the story and it lacked development.
Level 2 was an entertaining and complex story that focuses on the afterlife with a sci-fi flair. For those who like action, originality and something beyond the ordinary in your reading, definitely check out this book. It is one of the most innovative books that I have read to date for 2013, and I can honestly say that I will be checking out the next book in The Memory Chronicles.
"It's one of those gorgeous spring evenings I can never get enough of, when the trees burst with fresh, impossibly green leaves and the air is fragrant with promise."
"I heard somewhere once that people never truly die while people on Earth still remember them. As long as a person is in someone else's thoughts, a part of them lives on."
"When she gave me the bracelet, she said the dolphins reminded her of us, two faithful friends since childhood adrift in an ocean of constant change."
"I know it might not seem like it now, but there's more to life than parties and studying. The point is to keep trying new things, meeting new people, visiting new places. Once you settle into a rut, no matter how fun that rut may seem, you stagnate. You might as well be dead."
"Can you really trust your memories?"
"It's like church is some foreign country and I missed out on the cultural briefing. I started going because Grammy needed me to drive. I started to enjoy going because Neil was there. But that doesn't mean I've bought into the idea that God cares if I stay pure or not."
"Every relationship has its hurdles....and the big test is if you still want to be with someone despite those hurdles."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated.