Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Title: Chasing Before
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Series: The Memory Chronicles, book #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Source: from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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“I’m a ticking time bomb. And one day soon everything is going to explode.”

Felicia and Neil have arrived in Level 3 and are supposed to prepare for their divine vocations.

But during Felicia and Neil's training period, a series of explosions rips through Level 3. Tension is high, and casualties are mounting. A rift forms between the pair, one that grows wider when Felicia receives memories from the Morati. The memories cast doubt on the people she loves the most, but Felicia can't stop her curiosity. She has to know the truth about her life – even if it means putting at risk everything she’s worked for in her death.

I really enjoyed Lenore's take on the afterlife in The Memory of After (previously titled Level 2), that we don't go straight to Heaven but that there are levels to our afterlife that we ascend to as we become ready. I also really liked her use of flashbacks as memories to show us how Felicia had spent her short time on Earth prior to entering Level 2. And as far as those elements go, I'm still very impressed with this series...and I'm hoping there's more to come.

I listened to the audio for The Memory of After a month or so ago as a refresher for this sequel, and I definitely recommend having the events of the first book fresh on your mind, though a re-read isn't absolutely necessary since there is a good amount of rehash in this book. Even with a refresher, though, this second installment definitely takes a turn for the unexpected. So much for that sense of tranquility at the end of the first book.

Felicia seems a bit more naive and a lot more self-absorbed this time around, though there is a reason for the latter. I found it increasingly more difficult to connect with her as she grew more and more obsessed with chasing her memories from before, now that she knows there's a big chunk of time missing from her memory. I wanted her to discover the truth as much as she did because so many people seem to be hiding things from her, but her distinct lack of perspective on the situation made it hard to empathize with her.

Especially when she focuses the rest of her time on her relationship with Neil now that they're together again in Level 3. I didn't really ever come to appreciate Neil's character in the first book because even then he seemed like a sanctimonious asshat to me. He proved himself even more so to me in this installment, though I'm probably in the minority for that opinion, especially when I'm heartily in favor of Julian...even if he is the resident bad boy to Neil's near-martyrdom. My biggest complaint for Chasing Before would definitely be the sheer amount of time spent focusing on Neil and Felicia's relationship, especially as their encounters always felt stilted and unpleasant in comparison to the small amount of time Felicia spends in Julian's company. There were certainly bigger fish to fry and certainly more entertaining ways to spend my time than reading about Felicia bemoaning the current state of her romantic entanglements.

Some of what occurs in this book, especially in relation to Felicia, is a tad predictable, but some of it is so unexpected as to be the product of deus ex machina, leaving me with a false sense of consolation, like I'd finally been given the truth but hadn't really earned it yet. At the very least, the turn of events challenges suspension of disbelief, more so than the rest of the novel. I think I would have preferred more background on the angels and their motivations and the various levels of Heaven in order for the story to remain congruous. I'm not complaining about the book -- far from it -- I just want more of this world and to better understand it. Also, it's quite possible that in my haste to uncover the secrets of Felicia's past, I overlooked some of these explanations. (I do tend to get ahead of myself when I'm really enjoying a story.)

I don't think we've seen the last of the Morati and I hope that we haven't seen the last of Felicia and company. The ending to this book was sufficient but not wholly satisfying, especially knowing that Level 3 is not the end, either. I did enjoy seeing the new characters introduced in The Best Things in Death in their roles in the afterlife and seeing how the memories I read in that novella affected my opinions of them in this book. I'm interested to see if the author delves further into this world or leaves it at the mystery it currently seems.

GIF it to me straight:
One of those stories that makes you go, "Hmmmm..."

About the author:

Lenore Appelhans is the debut author of a YA novel THE MEMORY OF AFTER (also known as LEVEL 2) as well as a picture book CHICK-O-SAURUS REX (under the name Lenore Jennewein) with her husband, illustrator Daniel Jennewein.

Find Lenore:

Website | BlogTwitter | TumblrGoodreads


  1. I liked the first book and found the different after life levels interesting and how she had to look over her memories. I didn't like Julian though. I liked Neill. I'm not into religion or overly religious people but I felt like Neill wasn't too bad and that he really cared about her and just wanted her to feel like she wasn't a bad person. It has been a super long time since I read the first one though as I got an early copy. It's kind of blur except that stuff. I thought it was standalone at the time and I kind of wanted to continue but I really didn't want it to continue with the love triangle stuff. I thought that all was settled so sad to hear it continues in this one.

    1. Actually, there really *isn't* a love triangle in this series. I wish there was because I can't stand Neil, but Felicia's pretty much over what happened between her and Julian in her past. Sure, she's attracted to Julian, but she'd never betray or hurt Neil like that. So, don't let that keep you from reading it. If you genuinely liked Neil, I think you'll like this sequel.

  2. I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, but I've been hearing really good things about this one lately. I think I may have to reread the first book and give this series another try with book two! Great review, Jen! :)

    -Emily @ Books & Cleverness

    1. I DEFINITELY recommend re-reading the first book before picking this one up. :)

  3. This is a riveting and compelling book. Not often a fan of fiction, I found myself going back to this book again and again. The story line is complex and surprising and the level of tension is just enough to keep a person reading, but not too much to be exasperating. For anyone who loves futuristic or sci-fi genres, this is sure to be a hit.

    Great data for Garibaldi House Inn Rockaway Beach Oregon Hotel


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