06 March 2011

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Keep Your Head Down. Don't Get Noticed. Or Else.

I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. The Trava family who rules our world from their spacious Upper levels wants us to be docile and obedient, like sheep. To insure we behave, they send the Pop Cops to police us.

So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous--the only neck at risk is my own.

Until a lower level prophet claims a Gateway to Outside exists. And guess who he wants to steal into the Upper levels to get the proof? You’re right. Me. I alone know every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple. But guess who can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered? Right again. Me.

I should have just said no...

I missed this book when I came out, but I received an e-copy of the sequel, Outside In, through NetGalley so I thought I should go back and read the first one before reviewing it. I am so glad I did. Inside Out was an excellent YA dystopia. It deals with people locked in a cube for life, with a predetermined heirarchy that limits their jobs and very few choices in their existence. There's even a job for a "prophet" - a person from the upper classes who comes down to the "scrub" levels to preach how compliance with the status quo will result in rewards after death. But when Trella gets mixed up with the latest prophet everything turns on its head. He admits he has no idea about after death, but he does know how to find gateway - the way out of inside. He enlists Trella to help him get information he hid before he was exiled, which leads to a chase between Trella and the prophet finding the gateway or getting caught by the authorities.

The best part of this book is the characterization of Trella. She's just an incredibly well-rounded person who reacts differently than other people to her surroundings, but still believably. I think her most difficult trait is that she likes to be alone and doesn't want to associate with the people around her, but then again while I'm not that type of person I can imagine them developing in such a harsh, close-knit world such as Inside. Cog is more believable, and his warmth and leadership extending to everyone is not only spot-on but carries the story well. The dystopian world that is built is well-crafted and, once you discover the backstory (that I'm not going to spoil, you'll have to read it yourself :D ) it comes across as very genuine and the logical result of the situation. The plot is exciting and well-paced, and I couldn't stop devouring this book. Reading took me less than a day for both this and the sequel, so it definately caught me up and brought me into the world. Highly recommended, and as well as the sequel I'm going to be looking up more of the author's past works.

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