Finished up Level 26 and even after 400 odd pages, overall the book was still disappointing. While the characters did develop a little more and the plot grew somewhat, everything was still so over the top and drawn out, which continued to kill the pace. Zuiker continued to use short 3-5 page chapters (with over a 100 chapters for the entire book!) presumably with the goal of making it a page turner, but since little could be developed other than cheap quick reveals in that number of pages, the gimmick didn’t work for me (and has been my complaint with everything James Patterson writes these days).
As for the short video clips that varied in length from 30 seconds and shorter to up to 3 minutes, while the premise may have been interesting and potentially pretty cool, it was limiting in a number ways. It required that when one was reading, one needed to be within close distance of a computer with an internet connection, unless you had a Google phone or Iphone or some portable device with said internet connection. But this also detracted from the story by forcing the reader to put the book down to check out the short video, disengaging the reader from the story they were reading on the page to watch the same story on a different medium; coupled with the short chapters with little development . . . well, you can infer your own conclusions.
The videos continued to be incredibly over the top in a couple of different ways: the “graphic” torture scenes that were what got the book listed in the horror section, were mild in the videos, making them seem like different stories; the serial killer, Sqweegel, was overdone by the actor in the clips to the point where he was just funny and made me laugh (and when this is supposed to be the most horrific killer in history, requiring a new level of evil, I don’t think this is what the author was going for); and finally there were clips where the acting was predictably silly like a daytime soap opera, again making me laugh.
So overall, the idea and premise was interesting, but the result was that Level 26 was failure. And with two sequels planned, I think I’ll be giving them a pass.