I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans
Narrator: Cynthia Holloway
Series: The Memory Chronicles #2
Published by Listening Library on August 26th, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
Perfect for fans of The Matrix and Inception, Chasing Before follows Felicia as she grapples with a futuristic afterlife in this riveting sequel to The Memory of After.
It’s been four months since Felicia saved Level 2 from the Morati, the corrupted angels who trapped her and her boyfriend, Neil, in the afterlife. Now, she and Neil are finally ready to move on to the mysterious Level 3, an afterlife training facility where humans pick a career to pursue until they supposedly retire to the next level.
Shortly after arriving, Felicia learns some shocking truths about her life that make her question everything. Neil wants to focus on the future, but Felicia insists on looking for answers about her past. Just when Felicia thinks things can’t get any more complicated, deadly explosions begin to rock Level 3, and Julian—her charming former love who might still be aligned with the Morati—reappears.
Felicia has a choice: Will she do everything in her power to expose the Morati and end the destruction of Level 3, even if it means never knowing who she really is? Or will she chase after the desires of her heart and risk losing her past humanity, her present afterlife, and a future with Neil?
I start this review with pain in my heart because I wanted to like Chasing Before so badly. I really enjoyed The Memory of After in spite of a few quibbles, and I’ve met Lenore on multiple occasions. She’s awesome! So awesome that she’s the one who gave me this audiobook! And sadly, I didn’t really like it. I didn’t hate it either, but it was just a bit meh.
First off, I shouldn’t have listened to this on audio. I should have read it in print. Right away, I realized that Cynthia Holloway is not the narrator for me. Her voice is high pitched, whiny, and couldn’t hold my attention. I’ve been listening to quite a few audiobooks this year, and for the most part, I’ve had absolutely no problem staying focused on them. Something about Holloway’s voice made me want to tune her out. I got distracted really easily. And I don’t know why, really. Partially it’s the tone of her voice, I guess, and I may have been listening to it while having too many other things on my mind. I should have stopped and switched to print, but I don’t own a copy and I’m on a book buying ban, so that wasn’t really an option. If anything, I do want to try rereading it in print sometime, because Chasing Before definitely deserved more of my attention.
But the story wasn’t that great either that it could save itself from the narration. Now, I’m willing to bet that that’s partially because this was supposed to be the second book of a trilogy – but the third will likely never ever happen. I was confused, for the most part, about what happened in this book. Felicia and Neil got to Level 3, but apparently, this level of the afterlife involves training for a certain profession, which then becomes your role for the rest of your afterlife. Professions include muses, who travel to earth and inspire the people there (I…think…), or fighters, which I have completely forgotten the names of, who hunt down demons and send them to hell. Now, I’m very confused by this concept of afterlife professions. Shouldn’t your afterlife be about… umm… “living” in peace? Getting to do whatever you want? For eternity? Granted, it may be boring after a while, but to be forced into a job, so that you’ll retire one day and move on to Level 4? It felt like such an in-between step. To have multiple levels of heaven is okay, in fact quite creative when you think about the parallels to Dante’s Inferno, but at the end of the day, it felt endless and repetitive, and I wish we could have seen more of what came after this. I’m still confused about this world and though I like a lot of its creative elements, I feel like it lacks a certain cohesion.
As middle books often do (though, again, a sequel to this is up in the air), this book focused on the characters and the love triangle of doom. And that, in combination with the grating narration, is what keeps me from appreciating this novel. Felicia is super annoying, because all of her life revolves around Neil. Neil wants to be a muse? I want to be a muse. Flashback: Neil, you won’t marry me at 18?? WHYY??? In the afterlife: WE SHOULD LIVE TOGETHER. YOU DON’T WANT TO LIVE WITH ME? BUT TWO DOORS AND A HALLWAY SEPARATE US, NEIL, THIS IS ABSOLUTE TORTURE. Oh my god, Felicia was super annoying. And Neil is just boring as all hell. It’s not that I hate him, he just bores me. Here he’s keeping secrets from Felicia, and while she should be getting annoyed with him, she just keeps clinging to him and letting his lies and avoidance slide. That’s so ridiculous. Meanwhile Julian is being awesome and all Julian-like, and she keeps herself from giving in because she’s a dumb-ass who hates amazing kisses. *pouts* Though I will say that I appreciate the lady in the story being the lusty one – it was a nice switch from the usual YA.
Now, again, I do kind of understand the arc that she’s going through. She’s put Neil on a pedestal as the example of goodness incarnate, and because of her own past sins, she wants to follow his example and has some idea that being with him will make her good. It’s an interesting theme of morals and righteousness and fighting your personal nature. But it’s delivered in such a grating way, not only because of the narration, but because it just drags on too long, and we don’t get to that conclusion – when she realizes that nobody’s perfectly good, that Neil can’t fix her, and that she should be herself and be with someone who complements her (FREAKING JULIANNNNNNNNNN). *cough* I have some harsh feelings about this. It makes me so sad, because I can perfectly tell where this book is going, but without a follow-up, it’s just not there. And it’s sad. Neil sucks. Felicia’s annoying. Julian deserves better. *sigh*