Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Allen and Unwin, 2013.
(Age 14+) Paranormal. Angels. Romance. Felicia Ward is trapped in Level 2, a waiting room between Heaven and Earth. She spends her time in her pod in the Hive, downloading memories of what happened before she died, her friends and Neil, the boyfriend that she yearns for. Then Julian appears from her past and she learns about a rebellion that is happening in the Hive. It seems that she has an important part to play.
Felicia's past actions and feelings come through as memories as she accesses what has happened in the past. The reader learns of her involvement with Julian, even though her best friend is going out with him. We learn about the searches that her father makes for strange tribal music and wonder why she no longer plays music. She spends a lot of time going over her feelings for Neil, the charismatic Christian boy and how she behaved with Julian who is not portrayed in a very sympathetic light. What emerges is a picture of a Felicia as a very selfish teenager. As the story progresses the reader sees her character growing but it is a little difficult to see her as being strong enough to save the Hive.
What makes this book memorable is the original setting, which is quite different from much of the paranormal romance that abounds. The Hive is a fascinating place and the way people are treated there is engrossing. The combination of high tech memory access and drone like behaviour is handled well and keeps the action and motivations of the main characters alive. Touches of Greek mythology and Christian beliefs add to the complexity of the situation that Felicia finds herself in.
There are some action packed chases through the Hive, with Julian and Felicia on the run from the rebels and the inevitable love triangle between Felicia, Neil and Julian is sure to thrill teen readers who enjoy romance. This is a debut novel and more books are to follow in the series.