Poor Felicia is not having a very peaceful afterlife. First, there is her battle with the Morati in Level 2. Then, immediately upon her arrival at Level 3, the Morati are back again, as is Julian. There is a lot of internal debate about right and wrong, good versus bad, selfishness versus selflessness. Felicia remains torn between Neil and Julian. In the end, there are still more questions than answers with the added addition of an unsatisfactory feeling that Felicia followed the wrong path. It is a good thing there is another story in this series, as it gives readers another opportunity to figure out this strange new world, its policies and politics, and Felicia’s final role in everything.
Chasing Before is not the type of novel one can pick up mid-series. Readers need to be able to remember everything from the first novel because the second one builds on what was already shared. Unfortunately, there were minimal explanations and world-building in the first book, and there are even fewer explanations in the sequel. If one keeps an understanding of Ms. Appelhans’ version of heaven basic, without scrutiny, Level 3 makes sense. Any attempt to delve deeper however quickly reveals plot holes and many an unexplained area.
Just like the first novel, Chasing Before has many flaws. Felicia remains as indecisive as she was before, but this time there is much agony about her relationship with Neil. When Julian reveals a big secret about her abilities, this only serves to cause Felicia more angst. There is little character development and approximately the same amount of background set-up. The pacing is uneven and does not adequately build suspense. Lastly, the theological discussions are not as frequent but are still a major part of moving up to Levels 3 and 4.
The action is silly. The afterworld makes no sense upon inspection. Felicia is whiny, Neil is weak, and Julian is frustrating. However, none of this prevents Chasing Before from being a rollicking good time. One gets caught up in the emotion and drama and finds oneself thoroughly enjoying the story, sometimes because of the silliness of it all. Readers will fly through the story, anxious to uncover who Felicia chooses and why. They will want to help Felicia discover the hidden Morati, their ultimate purpose and their plans for her. They will want to uncover Felicia’s lost memories and help her find her future role in Level 3 or beyond it. It is the type of novel in which readers will become emotionally involved, which is a great thing when the story cannot bear the weight of a close examination. It may not great literature, but Chasing Before is certainly entertaining.