Friday, February 17, 2012

Inside Out - Maria Snyder

Summary:  "Imagine every space in this room filled with people.  Constantly being jostled and pushed.  In the lower levels there is no quiet place.  No peace.  To a scrub, this room is paradise."

I drew a deep breath.  I'd spoken more in one burst to this stranger whose room I'd invaded than anyone else in weeks.  And with a single word he could alert the Pop Cops and send me to the Chomper.  We stared at each other for a few heartbeats. 

Before I could retreat he said, "My name's Riley Narelle Ashon.  Any time you need peace, you're welcome to use my hideaway."

Keep Your Head Down.
Don't Get Noticed.
Or Else.

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.  (Summary from book - Image from beverlypubliclibrary.org)

My Review:   Inside Out is one of those books that I could take or leave without losing sleep.  I enjoyed the premise, but Snyder’s writing lacked fluidity and felt rather undeveloped.  The story was focused mostly on actions ( very Trella did this.  Then this happened and  Trella did that .) without the emotion, detail, or character development that would have given the story more dimension and depth. 

One of the disadvantages of one-dimensional writing is that it is often quite difficult to surprise the reader or create tension within the story.   The identity of Trella’s mother was painfully obvious.  Also, the conflict that Trella faced throughout the story did not feel genuine.  Nearly every obstacle she encountered was overcome with only token effort and, because of the action-oriented writing, often resolved in a matter of paragraphs.  In shorter books, I expect that kind of pace, but at just over 300 pages I wanted more tension and less predictability. 
The most bizarre aspect of this story involves a stuffed sheep that two characters  use to have weird third-person conversations.   These moments felt entirely out of place, and I felt uncomfortable while reading them – like I was eavesdropping on someone’s private therapy session.  It made me wonder if the author doesn’t just really like sheep, or have an inside joke involving them, that she wanted to insert into the story.  Regardless, the words “The Force of Sheep” should never be used in any book again.  Ever.

In spite of the somewhat stilted writing style, plot predictability, and the author’s bizarre obsession with sheep, I was still consumed by one question – What was Outside?   My curiosity kept me reading when ordinarily I might have stopped.  I wasn’t expecting the answer but it did raise my opinion of the book.  I also appreciate Trella’s final discovery….but  I will say no more.
I think Inside Out has the bones of a phenomenal story, but lacks the rich language or descriptive setting that would have allowed me to disappear inside its pages.  While it was difficult to ignore this book’s flaws, it is possible that a tween or younger YA reader might not even notice them.  I will probably keep this book on my YA shelf, in case my daughters would like to read it, but I don’t plan on continuing in the series. Now that my curiosity has been satisfied,  Snyder’s next book, Outside In, doesn’t hold as much interest for me. 

My Rating: 3 Stars, but juuuuust barely, and only because I think younger readers wouldn’t pick up on half of my complaints.
For the sensitive reader:  Unless you count a little kissing, this book was fairly tame.  I didn’t notice any profanity or excessive violence.

Sum it up:  A futuristic tale that might entertain younger YA readers or tweens, but probably won't find many fans old enough to vote. 

1 comment:

Corinne said...

So funny that you just blogged about this book. I was reading it ths week, too. I had many of the the same feelings but, unlike you, I wasn't compelled to finish. I have enjoyed some of her other books but this one was lacking.

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