This imaginative debut brings conflict to the afterlife, focusing on a war between humans and angels.
Felicia, dead, spends her time in the afterlife in a personal memory chamber, reliving memories of her own life and enjoying the memories of others, until a boy from her past lures her into a group of rebels. She dislikes Julian, who she believes betrayed her, but he promises to take her to her real heartthrob, Neil, for whom she pines. Once she leaves her chamber in the all-white, all-female world of Level 2 of the afterlife, she learns that the angels who rule the souls intend to drain the humans’ energy in an attempt to fight their own way into heaven. Felicia weans herself from her memory addiction and grows strong enough to fight, though she still isn’t sure she wants to ally herself with Julian and the rebels. Appelhans uses her memory device to illuminate Felicia’s life, delving ever deeper into her emotional difficulties as the fast-paced narrative progresses. The premise that pleasant memories can be addictive hits home; Felicia and readers eventually see that in order to move on, the souls in the afterlife need to overcome their unpleasant memories. The story never offers a credible reason why this one girl is so essential to the war in the afterlife, but the concept and characterization effectively prevail. (Originally reviewed as Level 2.)
An absorbing, sensitive read. (Paranormal suspense. 12-16)