Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
|Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
|Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
|Summary: This fast-paced read ably establishes likeably characters and an intriguing, original, dystopian world, while managing to have a thrilling, action-packed storyline.
|Date: January 2011
Through the narrative of the brilliantly gutsy, yet bitter Trella, Inside Out describes the unlikely revolution provoked by the mission undertaken by our protagonists to discover the legendary Gateway – a rumoured pathway between the self-contained Inside and a utopia known only as Outside. Originally reluctant to be drawn into what she considers to be a hoax, Trella, due to her particular proficiency when it comes to travelling through the piping and ventilation system that separates the various levels of Inside, somehow becomes the figurehead of the rebellion of the Lowers against the Uppers. However, there are some people who don't approve of this newfound hope, and are keen to stifle the revolution before it even begins.
Inside and the decadent society described to be living within it, controlled by segregation between the Lowers and the Uppers, provide a fascinating setting and premise. Trella is a Scrub. The Scrubs form the majority of the Lowers, who are essentially treated like slaves under the cruel regime implemented by the Population Control Police ordered by the affluent Uppers. The Scrubs have been hardened by the harshness of their cramped, hopeless lives, forced from a young age into a life of perpetual physical labour with the constant threat of the Pop Cops and their kill-zappers, and being sent to the Chomper, a system that recycles organic matter, looming over them. Altruism doesn't exist in their world, simply due to the nature of their lives meaning that people do anything to get a step up on each other, but the hope generated by the potential of a Gateway, leads to a number of moments when the whole community of Scrubs rallies around Trella, who having always been an outsider, is understandably awed and inspired.
The host of characters who Trella manages to recruit, provide a range of different personalities with which to work with, though the author chooses to concentrate more on progressing the plot rather than much secondary character development; nevertheless, being the first book in a series, this can easily be remedied in future instalments. In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of the story was the deliberate ambiguity about the setting. What is Inside? We learn that it is a massive self-contained system, with various levels of accommodation, and a population that has been discouraged from asking questions. However, how did such a system first come about? What are the origins to this world? Are they set on Earth? Or another planet? Or something else altogether? Some of these questions are partly answered in the book, but I reckon that the sequel will have plenty more awesome revelations to look forward to. The gradual eroding away of the misinformation caused by the propaganda utilised by the militarised controllers, the Travas, is also an interesting aspect that makes the interactions between Trella and a sympathetic Upper all the more compelling.
I am tempted to go into a lot more depth about the fascinating premise, but half of the fun of reading the novel came in the gradual understanding of the true nature of Inside, and so I'll leave that for you to enjoy. The story is confusing in the first quarter, due to the intricate nature of the author's world, and the rather erratic pacing, often too fast, does not help with this; Inside Out is by no means an easy read, and readers will find it takes a bit of perseverance to grasp understanding during the many short rapid segments, especially near the conclusion of the story. Furthermore, I had a few issues about how convincing some of the aspects of the complicated mission to find Gateway were. Nevertheless, Maria V Snyder has created an engrossing narrative through the point of view of Trella, a very strong protagonist, whose gradual shift from bitter pessimism to new understanding and a wary hope, makes the events of the novel all the more emotive. The author's well-directed, action-packed plot with twists aplenty, coupled with engaging dialogue kept me reading late into the night. Furthermore, stunning revelations littered like confetti throughout the last quarter of the novel, answering some questions while simultaneously creating many new ones, ensure that great anticipation for the sequel, Outside In, will be guaranteed.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Outside In by Maria V Snyder.
While reading Inside Out, a number of notable similarities came to mind with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which provides a very visceral dystopian depiction of society, with a similarly embittered and tough female protagonist. I would also recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, the first book of the Chaos Walking Trilogy that is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of teen dystopian fiction.
You can read more book reviews or buy Inside Out by Maria V Snyder at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Inside Out by Maria V Snyder at Amazon.com.
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