Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1)
Lenore Appelhans
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 15, 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.

Level 2 had a very interesting and unique concept. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started it, but unfortunately while I enjoyed reading it the story just didn't grab me like I wanted it to. 

This book switches between two different time periods: flashbacks to Felicia's life and her afterlife. The flashbacks feature a very contemporary vibe while Felicia's time in the afterlife (which is described as futuristic in the synopsis) is borderline sci-fi. I really liked the flack backs and learning about Felicia while she was living. However, I had a hard time getting into the Level 2 world. I think this is a personal issue; I am not a sic-fi fan and I had a hard time imagining this world. 

Level 2, being so short, is a fast read. It is overall fast-paced novel, although the flashbacks slowed it down a little. I didn't mind that at all but I can see how it could bother others. It did take me a long time to get into this book. Not sure why. But I did get more into the second half. 

It took me a while to like Felicia. At first it bothered me that she seemed to go along with everything. But then I realized she wasn't as naive as I initially thought because she questioned everything. However, she still isn't my favorite main characters. 

Overall, I did enjoy Level 2, but not as much as I would have liked. It just isn't a book that will stick with me. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen #1)
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books For Children
Release Date: May 22, 2006

When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D.J. can't help admitting, maybe he's right. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn't so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won't even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Dairy Queen is a book that I've been wanting to read for a few years now but just never picked up. But after seeing a few recent reviews for it, I finally decided to pick it up. I'm so glad I finally did read this novel because it is such a fun book. 

I'll start by saying that this book is so funny. D.J.'s sarcastic attitude combined with Murdock's witty writing creates quite a humorous experience. And although there are no real pressing and hard issues featured in this novel, it isn't all fluff. This is the story of how a girl in an emotionally struggling family makes her own path. 

D.J. is a somewhat self-concious girl who has never really done anything besides what is expected from her family. Dairy Queen is mostly the story of D.J. discovering who she wants to be and what she wants to do. Now, she still has a lot of growing to do, as I expect she does in the following novels. And D.J. is snarky and (as mentioned before) sarcastic, which makes her a great main character. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Dairy Queen. It was everything I expected with a few extra surprises thrown in. I loved the characters (not just D.J. but other such as Brian and Curtis), and I loved the story. There were some things that I wish had a bigger spot in the novel or that were developed a little more, but I expect that to be fixed in the coming novels, which I can't wait to read.