Tag Archives: Level 2

Discusson: Communication Breakdown

So I need to talk to you guys about something. Lately, I’ve been having some issues as far as genres go for the books that I’m reading. I just read a great post from The Housework Can Wait about clarifying the proper definition of each genre (and it’s great – you should go check it out!) but I’m talking about something a little different.

Lately I’ve been have problems where I pick up a book thinking in falls into one type of genre and turns out, it has a twist that crosses the line into a second genre. What’s my issue with this? I go into the book thinking it’s going to be one thing and then I almost feel betrayed when this plot twist pops up and completely changes the whole feel of the story.

WHO’S TO “BLAME”?

Okay. First things first. I in no way mean to bash these books or these authors!!! They’re actually really great works, but the genre confusion that I personally felt directly affected my comprehension and overall opinion. I would never say don’t read these and actually there were a lot of things that I did like about them, but there were just some things I did not see coming and for some reason, it left a sour taste in my mouth.

(Please note, I’m going to mention some specific books, so if you don’t want any mild spoilers (I’m only talking about genres, not plot) look away!)

So am I to blame for this confusion? Did I bring this upon myself? Well, yeah, sometimes. I’m the kind of person who hates spoilers SO MUCH that I will avoid reading a full summary on Goodreads OR on the dust jacket OR a full blog review because I have that big of an averson to spoilers. Just the tiniest thing gives away part of the plot and then the lead-up to it isn’t exciting anymore. So yes, I’m partially to blame. SOMETIMES.

Time When I Was To Blame: LEVEL 2. 
LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans. I actually enjoyed the book – I did – but why did I think that this was more of a dystopian book? Well, first off – the cover. Right up until I actually received the book, I thought that girl on the cover was wielding a sword and not just slouched over. (Because how cool would that be?) I had started it by thinking of Felicia as caught in Level 2 in an almost sci-fi/dystopian way more so than, “Hey. She’s in the afterlife. Maybe that issue’s gonna come up, huh?” It never once crossed my mind that religion would be tied into this book or that we’d even be talking about a limbo between Heaven and Hell (I know. Don’t ask why that thought didn’t cross my mind). True, it still does have kind of a futuristic feel a lot of the time, actually, but there’s that … how can I put it? Sacredly paranormal aspect that somehow I just never thought of.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? I got mad at this book. It kind of took a twist I wasn’t expecting which dove more into the “sacred paranormal” (pardon my improper terminology) and I was actually frustrated with how much religion was tied into the book because well, that’s just not my thing. I went to a Catholic school for 10 years and somehow that turned me off to religion instead of strengthening my faith. Go figure. So I almost ruined parts of it for myself because that twist wasn’t blatantly obvious (to me. Somehow).

BUT other times, that second genre is not mentioned. I’ve checked. I went back and looked through the summaries and if I hadn’t read the book yet, I wouldn’t have known at all. There were the tiniest of hints that I wouldn’t have picked up on when reading just the description and boy, did that twist take my by surprise.

Time When Twists Are To Blame: DANCE OF SHADOWS (this one’s probably a mild spoiler. Maybe)
So I’ve heard quite a few mixed reviews about DANCE OF SHADOWS. Just check out the reviews on Goodreads – they’re seriously all over the place – So I wasn’t quite sure where I would fall in line with that. Usually when the reviews are all over the place, I tend to fall on the side that doesn’t like the book, but I still wanted to give it a shot. So I did. I started it and all the ballet lingo totally reminded me of Center Stage. When it started to turn darker, it reminded me of what I picture Black Swan to be like (anyone seen it? Is that accurate?) and I was like, “Wow this is interesting!” I was actually digging the beginning and I loved the mystery. Keyword: mystery. I was thinking this was about Vanessa going back to school to investigate her sister’s disappearance. BUT there’s a twist (which I will not divulge) that’s a definitely genre change-up and I was just put-off by it.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? To be fair (or maybe unfair) there were already things about the book that were kind of annoying me, so once the this plot twist came along and totally switched the genre on me, I wasn’t happy. For some people, I bet they’d be like “Whoa, that was an awesome twist in this story! I totally didn’t see that coming!” And that’s where I got upset. I totally didn’t see that coming. Because of that, it seemed like a far reach to me and made the end a little too cheesy instead of totally awesome. *shrugs* I feel that that’s the make-or-break factor of the story and the people who are coming up with great reviews liked it and the people who end up with disappointed reviews obviously didn’t. Like I said, that wasn’t the only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me, but that’s to discuss later in my review!

BUT WITH THE BAD TIMES COME THE AWESOME TIMES

Now. There are also times when the mix of genres turns out to be TOTALLY AWESOME. Three different genres? Four different genres? SURE. YES PLEASE. And other cases where there I totally misinterpreted the genre, but the book was so much better than what I thought it was supposed to be!

Time When I Mixed It Up… But It Was Even Better! HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME
If you guys haven’t read HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME, I highly recommend it. When I first read the summary, it said that it was a school for the criminals – A place to learn the darker sides of life and to fit in with other kids in a world where you never fit in before. For some reason, the way it was worded, I thought it was going to be a superhero-type story. Maybe it was the cover (sheesh, apparently that has a lot to do with how I perceive a book) or just the way the summary was written, but turns out there are no superheroes in this book. We unite with the broken, the corrupt, and the criminally insane and it makes for an amazing and gripping (and violent) story.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? I was actually a little relieved that it wasn’t a superhero story. I loved that all of this was happening in the here and now. Not some dystopian or future world, not where our characters have supernatural powers – This could all really happen and we would never know it. It was exciting, thrilling, and at the same time, horrifying. I absolutely loved it and loved how I felt like this could really happen (although I really, really hope it doesn’t).

The Time Where Tons of Genres Came Together To Form a SUPERBOOK: CINDER
I loved CINDER. Who would have thought? You can say cyborg Cinderella any day and I would never, ever have picked up this book. Thanks to my fellow bloggers, I did, and I’m so happy I listened to them! To me, CINDER was a crazy but perfect mix of genres. There’s the fantasy aspect from the fact that it’s based on a fairy tale, the dystopian element of New Beijing, the sci-fi aspect of cyborgs and androids (and subtle Star Wars references), AND there’s a romance. Phew. That’s a lot, but so perfectly blended that it created one giant ball of AMAZING.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? Clearly, I loved it. The different genres and different feels definitely came together so well and really enhanced the story instead of distracting from it. Now I neeeed to read SCARLET!

Okay friends, now it’s time for some feedback. Has this ever happened to you??? Am I the only person who’s suffered from the phenomenon of genre miscommunications? I can’t wait to hear what you think about my cases and what books you’ve felt this with!

The Selective Collective Features Level 2: Review

The Selective Collective reads LEVEL 2 by LENORE APPELHANS

This the first of our January posts for The Selective Collective, we read LEVEL 2 by LENORE APPELHANS, sent to use by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for review and book club discussion. For my part in this month’s Selective Collective post, I will be doing the review for LEVEL 2!

The Selective Collective Features Level 2: ReviewTitle: Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans
Publishing Info: January 15, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 1, 2013

    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.

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Okay, let’s start by saying that this is a VERY difficult review to write without spoilers… BUT I promise that there aren’t any specific spoilers about plot or characters – Just clarification of the main idea of the book.

LEVEL 2 was definitely a unique story, combining a few different genres to come together to create one novel. We get a taste of dystopian, paranormal, and contemporary all wrapped in one. Based on the cover, I was personally expecting it to be predominately dystopian, but I was surprised to continue reading and find out there’s a lot more to the story than just the outward appearances of “Level 2”, where Felicia is currently passing the time after her death.

LEVEL 2 has a mix of fast-paced action sequences and touching flashbacks, thanks to the system that’s set up in the afterlife. Each “person” (spirit? I’m not quite sure what to call them because their very presence in Level 2 means they’ve already died) is able to catalog, store, share, and view their own personal memories and actually feel like they’re reliving them as well as having the ability to relive the memories of others for a fee. At times, I felt like the memories were a bit disjointed from the story when they cut through the exciting pacing, but a lot of them were our only insight to Felicia’s backstory as well as the stories of Neil, Julian, and Autumn and we get to see what Felicia’s life was like before Level 2.

I will throw a warning out there to all those who shy away from religious undertones and references because in this book, there are definitely a lot of them – We see Felicia and Neil not only at church, but youth group-like events which are a main part of their relationship. It’s up to the reader to gauge how that might affect their feelings about the book because it is a constant theme and in fact, some of it gets wound into the plot even deeper than just the relationship of Felicia and Neil.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about LEVEL 2. I finished the whole book in one day and was really curious to see what happened next, but at the same time, I was also confused on some of the plot twists in the end and just feel like they could have been written just a tiny bit better to clarify to the readers a little bit more and really secure their place in the story. I also had a very, very small issue with all of the different countries that Felicia travels to (via her memories) because of her parents’ jobs, traversing North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. My issue was that I didn’t quite feel like all of those scenery changes were necessary to the story. There wasn’t anything quite so specific that Felicia needed to be in these exact places for these events to occur so I was left wanting…. I’m not sure. A little more culture description? More attachment to the place? A reason to be there other than that’s where she ended up? Just my personal opinion.

LEVEL 2 definitely creates a unique story and has a lot of original ideas (or at least ones that I haven’t read about recently)! It’s quite an interesting adventure following Felicia through her adventure in Level 2, and I’m definitely curious to see how book two goes. I wouldn’t say we end with a cliffhanger, but it is a bit surprising and leaves me wondering about how the next book will start.

character_breakdown1Felicia: I was kind of back and forth with Felicia. Sometimes she and I were getting along great and than other times I was like, “Girl, you must be crazy!” She’s had quite a few polar opposites in her life so I felt like she was swinging back and forth a little too much for me to really make a solid character out of her. I want to say more about her but don’t really know what to say…. I almost felt like “old Felicia” was more of a real person than “new Felicia” and she was almost running away from her old self rather than growing into a bigger person.
Julian: I was all about Julian as Felicia knew him on Earth. Julian in Level 2? A bit confusing. Then towards the end I got even more confused, but to be honest, I was rooting for him!
Neil: I didn’t like Neil as the romantic interest for Felicia. He was too “good”. I don’t know… I think I just like reading about characters whose flaws are accepted and make them into better people. Neil didn’t have any flaws. He was a good, Christian boy and for me, it almost made him seem unrealistic. I’m not coming up with the right words for this, but I just didn’t like Neil very much.

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So that’s it! That’s my review for LEVEL 2. Have you read the book? What were your favorite parts? Anything that stood out? Haven’t read the book and excited to pick it up? 

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of WENTWORTH HALL so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Roundtable: Book Club Discussion
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Casting Call: Level 2
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Exploring the Edgy Girl Meets Good Guy Romance
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Author Q&A and Giveaway