“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.
Chasing Before picks up approximately four months after the end of The Memory of After aka Level 2. Felicia Ward is our protagonist. She presumably died before her 18th birthday, and ended up in Level 2, a place that exists between Earth and Heaven. Level 2 is a place where you are able to access memories of your life, deal with your past, and then move on.
Chasing Before takes us to the next level. Literally. Level 3 is a place where you are supposed to learn your vocation like healer, demon hunter, muse, or seraphim guard, and then continue on with your afterlife. Upon arriving in Level 3, Felicia and Neil discover that Level 3's world has been thrown upside down by the arrival of the Morati. There is a war brewing, and Felicia may be the key to the Morati's defeat or their ultimate vengeance against heaven.
When Felicia ascended to Level 3, she was seen as a hero for her actions in saving Level 2. The powers that be truly believed that Felicia could help them uncover the Morati who invaded their realm, and started a tidal wave of destruction in their wake. Felicia is more self-absorbed with her lost memories, than finding ways to make Level 3 safer without the Morati. Once again, you have to have patience with the flashback memories because they come from a source which I found to be unreliable.
Chasing Before spends entirely too much time on Felicia and Neil's relationship which is why I dropped my rating to 3 stars. I just couldn't abide by this version of Neil, or how much time Felicia dwells on it. While Felicia believed that Neil keeps her grounded, focused, and from losing herself entirely to the darkside, Neil was pushing her away, finding reasons not to be with her, and remaining true to a dogma that was outdated once he left the mortal world behind.
While Neil grated on every single one of my nerves right up until the very last page, I was more than happy when Julian made his presence felt. Julian and Felicia are connected in ways that I will not spoil for you. You will just have to go back and read Level 2, and find out what happened to Felicia. Julian doesn't have to pretend or prove himself to anyone. Although he does withhold some major information from Felicia, his feelings for her are genuine, and nothing will change that feeling.
Appelhans doesn't exactly spend a whole lot of time searching for the answers to Felicia death, or defeating the Morati. She does continue with a creative world where memories are a very powerful tool, and Felicia once again holds the keys to what happens next. She reintroduces characters from Level 2, adds a plethora of new characters both good and bad, and focuses the question on whether or not a person who is truly dead, should bother to spend so much time and energy on a past that she can no longer change.
I am presuming that this is the final novel in The Memory Chronicles since the ending doesn't exactly leave a whole lot of room to explore this universe any further. Perhaps Appelhans will decide to write another story that takes Felicia to Level 4, presumably Heaven, perhaps not. Or, maybe she will follow an entirely different group of characters? I guess we shall all see.
Author - Lenore Appelhans
Title - Chasing Before
Series - The Memory Chronicles # 2
Published by Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Releases: August 26, 2014
Genre - Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format - E-Book 359 pages