Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Insider #1
Genre: Dystopia/ Science Fiction (YA)
Source: Won from Bitten By Books
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.
This was my very first Maria V. Snyder book. When I won it, I didn't even know that she had written anything else or if she was any good. Let me just say that I am SO glad that I found her. Inside Out saved me from my "I hate Dystopias, they're all the same and all crap except for The Hunger Games" mood I was in. I was just feeling a little swallowed up by the genre. Normally I am all for the dark and depressing tones that most dystopias adopt. I make it a point to read the darkest and most twisty books I can find, but I swear, all of the dystopian books are practically interchangeable at this point. There's always a civilization(usually ours) in ruins, there is some dictator or terrifying government in complete control, and the main character is annoyingly brave and selfless and the leader of a revolution. Awesome...until you've read 23 books with the exact same synopsis. I admit, I had almost given up on the genre for a while, that is, until I read Inside Out. You don't even know the depth of how twisted and amazing Inside Out is until the very last chapter, and that is why I love it so very much.
The world that Snyder creates is truly terrifying. Trella, the main character, lives in this utilitarian world that never stops it's forward motion. She works in the vents, meaning she spends 10 hours cleaning said vents, then 10 hours eating and sleeping, then repeat. Constantly. For Trella's entire life. It sounds bad to you, but that has been her existence since before she could remember. She doesn't know who her parents are because children are given up to the nurseries at birth and forbidden to see each other, and she has been trained since she could walk so that she could clean, cook, or fix things so that those on the Upper Levels don't have to. Yet unrest is stirring as those in the Lower Levels are more and more alienated from the Upper Levels and are forced to reproduce so that they can continue to serve the Uppers. Of course, the Uppers have the Population Police who will "remove" the Lowers if they speak out. No one hears from you again once the Pop Cops have you. Yet Trella risks the Pop Cop's wrath as she explores the upper decks through her knowledge of the vents and discovers that things aren't as they seem on both the levels and that everyone is being lied to.
I really liked Trella as a character. She is tough, kind of a smart-ass, and has lots of different layers that you only get to see as the story goes on. She seems really foolish at first, but then you start to relate to her as she struggles against being one of thousands. I also liked that she was smart, and has a job that to me seems kind of masculine. I mean, all of the jobs that the "scrubs" have to do are dirty and kind of mechanical, but Trella has to fix and clean the pipes and vents, and to me that screams plumber. You know...overweight, balding, butt-crack-hanging-out, knuckle-dragging, maleness. So it was cool to see little pixie Trella being such a badass when navigating the tunnels and things. Trella did come off as kind of rude at the beginning. She didn't really care about her fellow Lowers, or anyone else for that matter. But as she grew up, she seemed to grow feelings and became a really strong leader. I also loved that Trella is integral in the revolution, but she isn't the only player. Cogan, or Cog, her best guy friend is a major part as well, and he is only involved in a handful of scenes. I loved that there were many different layers to the revolution, as well as a whole cast of players that had meaningful roles. It was shocking to find out that the Uppers were almost as in the dark as those on the Lower levels. It made the ones who were evil hard to spot, and created that much more depth to a story that could have been very flat.
The only negative I can think of is that I got a bit confused when it came to picturing the cube-style setting of the ship, and also the "century-style" ages and age groups. I understand that the author was trying to make things all mathematical and junk, but the 100 day = 1"centi-year" left me rather confused. Trella said she was like 25 centi-years, but by my math she would only be like...7...which is obviously not the case. So yeah, I am still a bit confused about that. Also, with each level divided into the same number and size cubes, yet having different purposes, I kind of lost track of where I was supposed to be. It was just pretty complicated to get a movie going in your head and you just kind of had to roll along with Trella and the other main characters and let them help you out with where you were. Despite that, it was a truly original, sterile, and creep-tastic situation so I loved it...besides, being pretty blonde sometimes, I'm confused for a large part of my day anyways, why not while I'm reading too? :P
I absolutely LOVED Inside Out. I loved it so much I will give it 4 and 1/2 Keys! OMG the ending! Wow. Just...WOW. I think my jaw is still plastered to the floor. This isn't a book you've seen before. It's a dystopia with tons of science fiction elements, that just scream terrifying future world. It's mysterious, tense, suspenseful, and just that much different than anything out there today. It's so simple and at the same time, is completely and unbelievably original. Maria is another author who I will now have to run out and buy anything she has ever written because I am that much in love with everything in Inside Out. From the characters, to the plot, to the setting, everything fits together and makes an epic story that you just can't believe.