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Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
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Jun 28, 2010

bookshelves: dystopian

Trella is the Queen of the Pipes. She lives in an enclosed world somewhere in the future. Divided into two factions, Trella is definitely one of the lower class, known as a scrub. She prefers to keep to herself in the pipes rather than deal with the overcrowded, maddening conditions most scrubs resign them to. In the pipes Trella has quiet and a sense of peace. Everything changes, however, when Trella inadvertently sparks a revolution and becomes the leader of a cause she never wanted to believe in.

"I would never have had the patience to fight my way along the main paths, but Cog's thick body left a wake behind him. I followed along in this space, walking without effort and without touching anyone. A moment of peace." (p13)

Trella initially threw me off with her prickly, hardened shell and general disdain for everyone around her. With Cog being her only friend and closest thing to any semblance of family, I thought more time could’ve been devoted to really showing the reader just how much he meant to Trella. Instead it felt like their friendship was quickly “told” rather than “shown". It wasn‘t until his situation became increasingly dire that I began to feel just how much she cared for him. As for those assisting Trella with her cause, Riley was by far my favorite character. A breath of fresh air, he helped round out a lot of Trella’s sharp edges and made her more likable for me. Riley was just about the sweetest boy I’ve ever encountered in a dystopian novel and I looked forward to every time he came into the picture. Their playful banter about the “sheep” showed Trella’s softer side, and allowed me to become more vested in her character as well. I would like to see much more of Riley and the TechNo’s Anne Jade and Logan in the next installment for this series. There is a lot of potential to do much with those characters and I look forward to meeting up with them.

Inside Out, a novel with a dystopian flair and hint of science fiction escapism, explores thought provoking issues such as eugenics, political control and class warfare while still managing to entertain the reader with an exciting storyline. This was the first novel I’ve read by Maria Snyder, and I was impressed with her writing style. I do have to note, however, that I almost gave up on the book early on. The first ten pages or so were devoted to the complex workings of the large, self sustaining cube where both classes of the people in Trella's world live and work. Much as I wanted to, I couldn’t picture the layout very well and Snyder began losing me with all the pipe crawling and different sector names. I still don’t have a clear mental image of it nor do I completely understand Snyder’s definition of telling time. With that being said, I’m really glad that I did keep reading on. Once Trella became involved in the revolt and began working with the people willing to put their lives on the line to help her, I began to care more about her character. Things finally kicked into high gear for me when she met Riley, an “Upper” who could’ve turned her in, but didn’t. At that point, I couldn’t read fast enough and ended up finishing the book in one sitting.

Just like the pipes where Trella felt most at home, the plot of Inside Out twists and turns with danger, self-discovery and the thrill of rebellion. So many people looked at Trella as their last hope, that it added an incredible amount of suspense and tension. Add in the threat of the Pop Cops, Chomper (a frightening death sentence) and cryptic computer files, and it was enough to reel this reader in. My favorite aspect of Inside Out was how even in times of distress, a little hope and a lot of courage can have widespread and long lasting influence for change in the world. We are not predestined to live out our lots in life, we can make a difference and we can change the course of our future. Outside In, the sequel to Inside Out releases in 2011.
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