Level 26 by Anthony E. Zuiker, with Duane Swierczynski
Review by Lauren
copy from library, all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Law enforcement personnel categorize murderers on a scale of twenty-five levels of evil-from the naive opportunists starting out at Level 1 to the organized, premeditated torture murderers who inhabit Level 25. But to an elite unnamed investigations group assigned to hunt down the world's most dangerous killers, headed by Steve Dark, a new category of killer is being defined....
Review: Level 26 is one of those books that would normally fascinate me, but I might not actually pick up for fear of being too scared. However, with this challenge, it's all about being surprised and taking a chance...so I dove into the book and found it to be one I was always reluctant to put down. Yes, it's definitely a scary novel, focusing around a serial killer that surpasses any before him. He doesn't have set targets. He doesn't use just one form of torture. But he's become obsessed with investigator Steve Dark, and suddenly, things are starting to make some more sense.
This monster goes by the nickname Sqweegel, as he has never left any DNA behind. If you look at the book cover, you can see the back of the white, latex suit that Sqweegel always wears in order to keep his secrets to himself. As for Steve Dark, he has been "tortured" by Sqweegel in the past and he is set on keeping to himself and trying to live a normal life. But when Sqweegel ups the ante, the government knows that Dark is their only hope and they'll do anything to get him back on their side of justice.
I liked that this book followed various third-person point of views because it allowed you to get a fuller look at the story, without ruining the major surprises. Obviously the book mostly follows Dark, with Sqweegel right behind. Getting into the head of Sqweegel is not exactly a good place to be, but the third- person point of view allowed a small degree of separation to keep the reader sane. If you're easily frightened, this might not be the best choice of novel for you, but I have to admit that I am a scaredy-cat for sure and I still really loved this book. Unfortunately, most of my free time to read was at night which certainly makes the book even more frightening, but it was worth it. I found the psychological aspects of the book interesting and even though there are descriptions of violence and sexual acts, nothing is overly described. There is usually just enough to get the point across.
The most original aspect of this novel is that it's the first digi-novel. The main author, Anthony Zuiker, created the show CSI, so he was able to get a variety of actors together to create actual scenes from the book. Throughout the novel there are moments that tell you "if you want to see..." then log onto the website and use a set code. Since two other books have been released since this one, things are a bit different. Now, you go to Level26.com and click the first book's title. This brings you to Youtube and the clips are listed in order by number. I wasn't always by a computer when reading so I didn't watch the clips right when they "appeared" in the book but I did go back and get caught up. If you can read something better than you can watch it, feel free to skip the clips. They are an extra to enhance the novel but you don't need to watch them. I found them interesting though and a wonderful addition.
In the end, while I was certainly freaked out while reading some parts, I'm glad I took the chance. This was an excellent thriller/mystery and I do want to read the rest! I have to know what happens next as this book leaves you with a few questions.