The world of Inside is divided in two- the Scrubs keep the place running and the Uppers are the brains of the organization. Although clearly split along class lines in a closed society, every so often a prophet “appears” among the Scrubs with promises of the Gateway to Outside. For some reason, this time the Scrub Trella–also known as Queen of the Pipes– decides to believe the prophet. What follows is a story of discovery, subterfuge and robotic intervention.
Inside is actually an omnibus containing the two novels Inside Out and the sequel Outside In.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
Honestly? Because it was the first available thing in the e-library fantasy/sci-fi section that looked remotely interesting.
Rating (2 stars)
As the resident lover of dystopian futures, well thought out world building and crazy elaborate reveals, Inside definitely started out as my type of book. About the fourth time the plot spiraled back through the same conflicts again, it became a battle of wills to finish.
Although the simplistic naming systems author Maria V. Snyder uses make sense at the beginning of the series and help you learn the world, by the end of the first book they get a little cloying. Scrubs clean things, Chomper is the recycling compactor, Outside is everything not Inside and the Gateway is how you get there. Although explicitly clear, these Capitalized Label Names eventually start to make you wonder why the author is treating you like a very slow 10 year old.
There is a late-term plot twist to the first book, but by that time it had been hinted at enough that it was less of a twist and more of a gentle curve. The excruciating build to that curve along with the number of times characters seem to flip at random from “good” to “bad” and back again had me shaking my iPad and saying, “Get on with it!” more than once.
Overall, the pitfall was really in the choice to make Inside a two-book series. At the end of Inside Out I was a little tired of the two-dimensional characters and some of the author’s choices but still intrigued by the concepts governing the world. By the middle of Outside In, I was questioning whether I cared about the ending anymore. About 50 pages from the end it seemed like a FINISH IT NOW ANY WAY POSSIBLE crash towards the last page.
Read this book:
If you just can’t leave the headspace of the Hunger Games
Don't Read this book:
if you’re hoping for a lucid commentary on society and class structure in a dystopian human world.
Once you're done, do this:
Read Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” for a clearer, more terrifyingly realistic version of the same story concepts. (Or just spend your time trying to cross-reference the Base 10 dating system Inside uses with our current calendar year. Is Trella 15 or 30?)