From the Vault:
Maria V Snyder
It took me a little while to get into this story. I think it was because the protagonist didn’t immediately strike me as the kind of strong kick ass women Snyder usually writes. That being said, although she wasn’t immediately that person, holy crap did she become that person and quickly too. As Snyder’s first foray into youth fiction and science fiction, I have to say, she did it superbly. The tension and mystery she wrote into this story were addicting. I loved the underlying tension of not knowing what Inside or Outside really was. Was it just some building standing in the middle of a field on a completely depopulated Earth? The lack of information amped up the already high tension of the story. Watching Trella fight her way through the Pop Cops (a great nickname, because Population Control Police is just creepy) on top of trying to prove that their religion is true for the sake of her friends had me losing track of time and falling asleep hours after I had intended to.
Publisher’s Blurb (You can find an excerpt of the book at that link as well):
Keep Your Head Down.
Don’t Get Noticed.
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.
Although Trella is one hell of a reluctant protagonist, once she gets on board with being the unexpected leader of a revolution, she becomes magnificent. She’s strong-minded, brave, and guarded. Her refusal to be part of a totalitarian government that teaches her that she’s a lesser human is delightful, even before she becomes the reluctant leader of the revolution. She was just a girl trying to live out her life in the least shitty way possible, but the way she always does what’s necessary at the ripe old age of 17 is kind of awesome. She didn’t start out as the typical Snyder protagonist and for a while that kind of bothered me, but once she took up the mantle, it made the wait worth it. The wait is what makes the second half of the book so juicy. (That word’s a little gross, but it’s accurate.)
One of Snyder’s many gifts is writing pretty horrible antagonists that her leading characters get to work against, and this one is no exception. The family that’s in control of Inside is disgusting in their overuse of power to keep the people from realizing what’s going on and revolting. It someone gets out of line, they just feed them to Chomper, the people recycler… literally. The extremes the Pop Cops are allowed to go to to keep people in line are both alarming and horrifying. Torture runs rampant. It’s this mistreatment of the population that makes you support Trella and her mission so thoroughly. Of course you want Trella to succeed because the alternative is watching all of the people you’ve come to care about in the book be fed to Chomper and turned into hydroponic fertilizer.
Snyder, once again, does a stomach clenching job of telling a tale of bravery, hope, and courage surrounded by dictators, pain, and death. It’s one hell of a read.
4.5 ink bottles
Character Believability: 4 Buffys
Character Investibility: 4.5 Doctors
Pace/Urgency/Tension: 4 Dresdens
Worldbuilding: 4.5 Snyders
Language: 4 Feegles
Mystery: 5 Sherlocks