Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Inside Out/Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Description and pic from Goodreads :
The world of Inside is simple. Do your job, stay out of the way and don't dream of anything better. Because as every scrub knows, there are no other options.
Until Trella - the Queen of the Pipes, as some call her - gets involved with a revolution that will rock her world...

M.A.D. thoughts: (my edition is the special collection which contains both novels - Inside Out and Outside In)(YAY for special editions)
Okee dokey. Where to start here ...

Well, first off, I enjoyed both stories - this was a clever, intelligently written book that maintained an even pace. The premise of a world - INSIDE of somewhere???, with vague & persistent rumors hinting at a world outside - a potential Utopia/escape when compared with what was a dreary, claustrophobic society starkly divided between the lower floor inhabitants and the upper floor inhabitants - was, in my mind, pretty nifty. I never would have thought of this, and I liked the creative aspect of this literary dichotomy.

The main character, Trella, was initially presented as somewhat of a loner, someone who had difficulty trusting others, and with rare exception, was strictly on a mission to look out for her own skin. You couldn't really blame her, either, given that she was reared in some screwed up child care *group* setting with a Care Mother instead of the real article.

Furthermore, Trella, and the rest of this bleak society, were perpetually under threat from the Pop Cops [population cops, I think it was], or of being *recycled*/terminated by a nasty machine named Chomper (brrrr...). Orders, such as they were beyond the endless scrubbing and cleaning of the labyrinth systems of pipes running throughout the inside, were handed down - or so it was believed- from a mysterious leadership dubbed The Controllers.

Who was Trella's mother? Who were the controllers? Was there an Outside, and if so, was it Utopia or something else? Something worse? Would Trella ever mate, and if she did, would she decide to procreate, thus condemning future offspring to an oppressant life of servitude? Would the scrubs ever know liberation from the yoke of their lowly status? If they did achieve liberation, would they be able to handle it ... all interesting questions.

Now, as I don't want to give away any spoilers, I'll stop right here. Like I said, this was a very clever dystopian story, and for the most part I very much enjoyed it.

My only problems were I kept getting lost in all those darn pipes, so I had a difficult time as I read with maintaining a running visual in my imagination. All those pipes started looking(?) alike. Also, quite frankly, I just didn't like Trella all that much. That, of course, is my own personality and nothing wrong with the book.

She was just too aloof, too distrustful, and carried too large a chip on her emotional shoulder for me to really learn to empathize with her, to warm up to her. Sometimes, she was downright annoying. Or so she seemed to me. I was kinda hoping she'd get fed to Chomper :O

Then again, if I'd spent my life hiding away in a maze of pipes, eating recycled God-Knows-What for meals, and discovering my mother had lied & given me up, maybe I'd be annoying, too.

Anyhoo, I think most people will truly enjoy reading Inside Out/Outside In. It's a terrific book, and I'm just an old crab some days ;D


  1. Sounds like a cross between Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" and "Soylent Green".

  2. You know, Keith - I've tripped across oodles of praise for Neil Gaiman yet I haven't personally read his material. But you've piqued my interest and so I'm adding Neverwhere to my TRB list :) Thanks!

  3. This sounds like a fascinating read. I really like the cover and the society you described has me curious. I think these are two books I would enjoy.

    Oh- and if you still haven't read anything by Neil Gaiman- you should give him a try. He is one of my favorites!

  4. @DMS - with two high praises for Neil Gaiman I think I'll go onto Amazon later and check out some of his stuff lol, who knows ... mayhaps I've been remiss in my book selections ;D

    Back to Inside Outside ... I think you would absolutely enjoy it!!