Blurb (from Goodreads):
Three levels. Two loves. One choice. Debut novelist, Lenore Appelhans has written a thrilling otherworldly young adult novel about a place that exists between our world (Level 1) and what comes after life (Level 2).
'I pause to look around the hive - all the podlike chambers are lit up as the drones shoot up on memories ... I've wanted to get out of here before, but now the tight quarters start to choke me. There has to be more to death than this.'
Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend ... and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her.
Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Source: I borrowed a copy of this book.)
Felicia lives in some kind of white hive, with loads of other girls. They all wear white slips, and have shaved heads, and they all know that they are dead.
Each girl has a pod, with a sort of computer terminal in it. Each girl logs into a kind of memory network using the pod, and can choose to re-live any of her past memories. She can also lend memories out to people, in return for tokens which allow her to borrow other people’s memories.
One day a boy enters the hive through a door that Felicia never even knew was there. But more surprising is that Felicia knows him – his name is Julian, and she knew him before she died.
Julian explains that he is there to rescue her, and that the beings who run the hives are keeping everyone happy by using ‘doping drugs’ and that Felicia must wean herself off of these if she wants to exist outside the hive.
Felicia is soon to learn that her current home is not exactly what she thought it was, and that she herself has the ability to change things inside the hive.
What does Julian want from her though? What happened between them while they were both alive? What was the deal between Felicia and her boyfriend Neil? And how exactly did Felicia die?
This was a weird book. I initially thought that I was going to love it, but as it progressed I felt my attention wavering, and found myself taking more and more breaks instead of reading.
I though the ‘hive’ idea was really interesting, and I liked it, but as I learned more, it just seemed more and more like the pods in the film ‘The Matrix’, especially as Felicia was told that the bad guys were using her and all the other people in the hive as batteries!
Once Felicia was broken out of the hive, she seemed to adapt incredibly quickly. Although she did have a period where she was still addicted to the doping drugs, she seemed to get through this really quickly, and soon was able to adapt and use the hive the same way as the people who helped her escape. Even though she was given some brief descriptions of how to do things, she seemed to be instantly able to do stuff, which I found a little hard to believe.
Strangely, the thing about Felicia which kind-of annoyed me was her inability to let things go. I mean, she’d been broken out of the ‘hive’, and the people who broke her out sort-of told her what was going on, but instead of then getting on with things, she obsessed and whined about rescuing her friends who were in the same hive – even though she knew that one of them was broken, and the other wouldn’t remember her. As it was explained to her that a lot of people weren’t stable enough to cope with being pulled out of their hive, and that it could ‘turn their brains to swiss cheese’, it just seemed totally stubborn and pig-headed that she believed that she could somehow magically fix them and get them out.
Felicia was also unable to give up the pods and their ability to show her memories. Even once she was pulled out, and had got off the doping drugs, she still wanted to keep going back in, and when she thought that one memory of her sort-of boyfriend Neil may have been damaged, she threw a bit of a paddy, and went back through it another 12 times trying to fix it. I mean was there really a point to this? She still had the memory in her head, and she was supposed to be breaking out of the whole hive thing, so why was it such an issue that the pod version of the memory might have been damaged?
I also found it a bit rich that while she was very protective over her own memories, she was quite happy to hack into other people’s memories, and change things to suit her! If that isn’t a violation of her ‘friends’ minds, then I don’t know what is.
There was a mystery element to the book – we don’t know how Felicia died, we don’t know exactly what went on between her and her sort-of boyfriend Neil, or her and the boy Julian who came to rescue her. We also don’t know 100% why Julian was so set on getting Felicia out of the pod, only that there was something ‘special’ about her. I personally really wanted to know how Felicia had died, and what events had led up to her death, which is the main reason I kept reading. I was also interested to find out exactly what had happened between Felicia, Neil, and Julian. Yikes! I’ve just realised that that is a love triangle! Is no book safe from the damn love triangle?
Anyway, I thought that the mystery element was the best part of the book, and I was unable to guess exactly what had gone on leading up to Felicia’s death. I was also a bit shocked by way happened to Felicia’s friend Autumn, who was her best friend when she was alive.
Spoiler - (Highlight to view) I have to say that I was surprised that Felicia wasn’t trying to find Autumn in the hives, as she was one of the people that Felicia should have wanted to apologise to.
[ I have to say that I was surprised that Felicia wasn’t trying to find Autumn in the hives, as she was one of the people that Felicia should have wanted to apologise to. (hide spoiler)]
With regards to Felicia being ‘special’ this was explained right at the end of the book, and was quite complicated. Personally I still don’t really get it!
There was some religious elements to this book that I wasn’t really expecting. I didn’t realise that there would be scenes of Felicia going to church, and I didn’t realise that there would be a whole angel/god thing going on in regards to the whole hive-pod business. I didn’t think that the religious angle was too over-done, but I just wasn’t really expecting it, I expected more sci-fi than religion to be honest. I am sick of the lecturing in young adult books about ‘no sex before marriage’ though. I’m pretty sure that people can make up their own minds about sex without constantly having the ‘no sex before marriage’ lecture shoved down their throats at every available opportunity. Just give it up already! Maybe people should be talking more about safe sex than no sex.
The one good thing about this book was that there was an ending of sorts. Several storylines were neatly tied-up, but there was still space for a sequel, although I’m not sure I’d want to read it.
Overall; this was an okay read, but it fell short for me. Let me just say that I’m glad I borrowed this one rather than buying it, as if I had bought it, it would be listed for sale by now.
6.5 out of 10.