It isn't often that "one of our own' becomes a published author, but that happened with Lenore. I first found Lenore through her blog. Her reputation precedes her in this world, not only for her love of YA novels, but also because she and her husband write illustrated children's books. Oh, and also because of her adorable, fluffy, personality-packed kitty cats.
We were all pretty proud of her when she announced that she had a new book coming out (YA of course) that was the first of a trilogy called the Memory Chronicles.
We followed her through the process...the editing, the translations into different languages, the photo shoot for the book, and her publicity tours. It was almost surreal!
Since I adore Lenore and consider her a cyber friend, I don't think it would be fair of me to post an official review of her book. The lines are blurred and I'm not sure I can be unbiased. But what I will do is tell you about her book, and the things I enjoyed about it.
Synopsis: Felicia Ward died in a tragic accident right before she turned 18, and is now existing in what is called "Level 2", an afterlife that is caught in between earth and heaven. Inhabitants of Level 2 spend most of their time in individual pods, plugged in and re-experiencing their lives on earth through accessible memory files, missing their loved ones. Felicia particularly has a hard time letting go of memories of her true love Neil. Will she ever see him again?
But then the stark, sedentary routine is disrupted...a girl is found "dead" in her pod, and Julian (a boy Felicia had a love/hate relationship with on earth) charges in and offers Felicia an opportunity to leave the in-between world she knows and embark on a quest to fight in a war of good versus evil. And maybe get to see Neil again. A million questions are haunting Felicia. Can she trust Julian? She sure couldn't on earth. Is she really dead? Who is on the side of good, and the side of evil? And what will she find if she DOES see Neil again? Will he even remember her?
Highlights of the story:
* Throughout the book, we access files from Felicia's memory, which provides us the background on her life as a teenager, her relationship with her friends, with Julian, her parents, and her courtship with Neil. I thought this was an incredibly creative way to handle something that is usually just a series of flashbacks in other novels.
* I always like the presence of good and evil, in its most basic form. I don't have a good feel yet for who is on which side, and the severity of evil of the bad guys, but the battleground has been established.
* I appreciated that Felicia's lifestyle included faith (she meets Neil in church). In no way is this Christian fiction, or is preachy, but is a part of her routine. And it made sense to me once I realized that most of the book takes place in a type of purgatory.
* I normally roll my eyes at yet another trilogy, but I understand the need in this case. I do appreciate that while there was a climatic ending, it wasn't an obvious cliffhanger ploy to drive the reader mad. That always feels like a dirty trick!
* The story is definitely aimed at teenagers, but is layered and complex enough to entertain and adult.
A few words about the audio production: Lenore actually sent me a sample of the narrator before the audio was released, so I knew enough to be excited about Jenna Lamia. She is an incredibly seasoned narrator (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Moon Over Manifest, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, just to name a few), and she is also an actress. Her voice is youthful and clear and energetic, and was perfect for this project.
Audio book length: 8 hours 19 minutes (288 pages)