I got a copy of this book for review from the publisher, HarlequinTeen, through NetGalley.
The Premise: Trella is a scrub, a worker who cleans pipes and air ducts in the world of Inside. She’s a loner and has been nicknamed The Queen of the Pipes because of her habit of hiding and sleeping in them. She hates the scrubs and her job, and her only friend is Cog, one of her care mates. Cog’s a dreamer and popular with the scrubs. He believes in Gateway, a way out of Inside, and one day introduces Trella to a prophet who claims he can prove it’s existence. Broken Man, the prophet, once lived among the Uppers, the group that lives above the scrubs, and he claims he hid some disks above his sleeping quarters before he was captured by the Population Control Police (aka the Pop Cops). He asks Trella to try to get the disks but when she’s almost caught, it unleashes a series of events that changes Inside forever.
My Thoughts: I *loved* Snyder’s first book Poison Study, but after that one I didn’t find myself as in love with the rest of the series and I didn’t really have high expectations of Inside Out. I was wrong. I started it late at night thinking I’d read a couple of pages and then go to bed, but before I knew it I was 60 pages in and not wanting to go to sleep. Eventually there were some lulls for me in the reading but for the most part I found the book an easy read.
I think it hits a few things that I personally like in my books:
- A strong female protagonist with a great voice – I’m glad I liked the main character because it’s from her first person POV. At first Trella is a cynical loner who thinks she knows everything, but as the book continues she becomes more positive. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, and she’s also growing and learning that her preconceptions need to be questioned. I loved seeing how she changed from when we first meet her when Inside Out begins and when the book ended. I think it helps that I never disliked Trella even when she was negative. She had some bad experiences when she was young and she closed herself from others and she built a wall around herself. I couldn’t blame her for it.
- Strong relationships – I liked how Cog’s personality was the complete opposite of Trella’s, but he still supported her and was a positive force in her life. I loved Cog. I think we should all have one in our lives – the friend who is open and genuinely LIKES people. I liked how he accepted Trella no matter what.
- Great world building – At first I wasn’t sure what to make of Inside, but once I decided to imagine something like the City of Ember, I imagined the world as a maze of white corridors and rooms, lots of people wearing colored-coded jumpsuits and endless pipes and ducts. And it’s an integral part of the story. I already like science fiction so I warmed to the world quickly.
- A little bit of romance – it’s not a big focus and the romantic interest has a small role, but it was a nice counterpart to all of Trella’s stress to have one person, Riley, a boy who is an Upper, who had her relaxing her constant guard.
When I look at some of the other blogger’s reviews of this book I was initially surprised to find negative reviews. The problem it seems is that the world building can feel too confusing and Trella can come off as unlikeable. I am more surprised that people didn’t like Trella than I am about the world building. I will agree that the dimensions of Inside plus imagining a three dimensional blueprint of it can get tedious at times. There is some awkwardness in describing Inside as a tic-tac-toe board in 3D, and then labeling each square, and I skimmed over the explanation of weeks and centiweeks, workdays of 10 hours on, and 10 hours off. I am still iffy on Trella’s age in our system.. I think it’s 17 years old. But Trella never really felt unlikeable to me. Anyway, it just illustrates how you never know what will make or break a book for people!
The ending to this book has a bit of a surprise to it, but in a good way I think. The book slowly adds up to the end, and I had my suspicions for a while but I still liked the way Snyder presented it. I felt that the book ended quite nicely and I am not sure what the author can come up with for the next book Outside In. I hope it’s something good because she set the bar high for me with Inside Out.
Overall: This went above my expectations and I really enjoyed this young adult science fiction story. I felt satisfied by the way things ended – it got a rare happy sigh from me. I recommend it highly, but I think you have to be a reader who likes imperfect protagonists and has patience for confusing world building.
Bonus – Check out the Inside Out website
(there’s a quiz to see what you’d be assigned to in Inside. I got ” INVALID: You are too confounding to place. Inside has no use for anomalies. Report directly to the Chomper.” *CRY*!?)
Other reviews (mix of disliked and really liked)
Book Love Affair (7 out of 10)
Genre Reviews – 4 pints of blood (out of 5)
Reading with Tequila (5 shots out of 5)
Lurv a la Mode – 4 out of 5 scoops
The Last Blog in the Universe – a negative review
Tez Says – found the concept befuddling
Presenting Lenore – 5 zombie chickens (out of 5)