Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love Maria Snyder's books- as soon as I start reading one I can't get anything else done until I've finished it. The Poison Study series is one of my favourite series of all time, and here we have Inside Out written for the YA market, one of my favourite genres to read, so I had very high expectations for this book. It promised me intrigue and romance... and didn't disappoint.
Trella is a scrub- the lowest of the low of Inside, and her job is to clean the pipes and passageways to keep everything in Inside running smoothly. All the scrubs have to hard all day without days off to keep the system running for the uppers, the richer citizens of inside, and there are harsh punishments for anyone who breaks the rules. As a result of her work Trella knows every air duct, water pipe, laundry chute and heating vent in Inside. She knows of gaps between the walls that have been forgotten about, and secret spaces, hatches and storage rooms. Trella keeps to herself and has no real friends except for Cog who she grew up with the care facility. When Cog introduces her to a "prophet" who tells them there is a secret gateway to Outside, Trella determines to prove him wrong but ends up setting in motion a stream of events that changes everything. The other scrubs end up covering for her and lying for Trella to the "Pop Cops" in charge at risk to their own lives, all because they believe that Trella is key to freeing them from the drudgery of their lives as scrubs. They hide food for her and cover her work shifts to disguise what they are up to. Because of her detailed knowledge of Inside Trella becomes the unwitting leader of a revolution. The story moves at quite a pace, and Trella seems to be all go all the time. They uncover a corrupt government, secret parentages, invent new technologies to communicate and use as protection in their rebellion. All throughout the book is this detailed description of where they are, and their struggle to find a way out and you can't help but wonder where they really are. What has happened on Earth to force everyone to live in an emormous metal cube, what has happened to the world outside and what will they really find when (and if) they find the way out. This metal world and their strict way of life is all anybody has ever known for generations. The reveal is a bit of a shock.
A lot of the description of the quads and segments that make up "Inside" plus all the description of how they measure time (centiweeks etc) went completely over my head, and this was one instance where I wished the book had come with maps and graphs to explain- but despite that the story itself was excellent, action packed, well-paced, with such great characters.
My favourite character is Riley- an upper that Trella befriends who talks to his stuffed animal "sheepy", and who helps Trella break into some offices in the upper levels. He is confident and kind and the romance between them is very lovely. He becomes very protective of Trella, and is very sweet. But formerly friendless Trella quickly makes lots of new alliances among the scubs and the uppers and has to learn who to trust. All of the characters are so well written and the warmth and humour between them all is the most uplifting feature of this book.
I really liked this book and after a cliff-hanger ending am looking forward to the release of the next installment Outside In soon.
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