Review: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
Maria V. Snyder's website here // $9.99 from {amazon}

Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (April 1, 2010)
Paperback: 320 pages 
Summary: from {goodreads}
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? Not like it's all that dangerous - the only neck I risk is my own. Until I accidently start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution. I should have just said no...

Rating: View my rating system.

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved The Study series by Maria V. Snyder - and I mean loved, loved, loved. I can't exactly say why I enjoyed the series so much, but the fact remains that it was captivating and got me addicted from book one. (So considering my adoration for Valek the series, I'm sorry I can't refrain from just a couple references.) -end propaganda- However, that love does not impact my opinion of Inside Out whatsoever, though if you want to take it with a grain of salt, feel free to do so.

Anyways, onto the real review... the above summary, which is also the back-cover summary, comes straight-out stating the interesting premise. And I quote "I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. I'm nobody." etc. In a way, it's accurate in that it concisely captures the gist of Trella's sentiments regarding her situation; she's a scrub, she's insignificant. Or rather, that's Trella's view of herself. Her negative attitude, which I feel is simply her being pessimistic as opposed to being cynical or a pragmatic, annoyed me a little at first because it made her isolation seem self-imposed. Trella's the only one degrading herself and other "despicable" scrubs when she bemoans her lowly station, yet her closest and only friend Cogon is somehow still able to remain cheerful and popular with everyone - how? I'd chalk it up to making the best of the situation, but no, alas, to Trella this jovial attitude is a miraculous, mystifying mystery. I can fully understand discontent but cannot fully justify Trella's prejudices regarding others.

Ironically, the book is more enjoyable because the summary is not entirely accurate. Trella definitely does not say anything along the lines of a "go-to girl," and the "so what if...?" gives the impression of an immature, rebellious teenager. There's no doubt in my mind that Trella has a defiant, rebellious streak, but she displays an admirable level of maturity and restraint, especially considering the extremely hard choices she has to make throughout the book. I'm not even sure if I'd be as willing to sacrifice myself as Trella is for the good of cause, even if that "cause" contains the promise of ice cream, pizza, or perhaps freedom. She's also determined to the level of being obstinate, but I enjoyed being able to see an actually no-nonsense heroine that's willing to do anything to achieve her goal and doesn't just retreat in the face of the swoon-and-catch-me guy. As a matter-of-fact, Trella wears the pants completely pulled-up, and may I add firmly buttoned, in the relationship between her and Riley. As for Riley, if you've read The Study series, think Valek (and I'm not exactly complaining here). Black hair, blue eyes, sweet, and seriously kick ass. Maria V. Snyder has quite a knack for creating sensitive, caring guys that somehow manage to maintain their manliness while constantly supporting their more independent, domineering female half, and all I can do is sigh and "aw" at opportune moments.

I know I focused two long, rambling paragraphs on the summary, but it basically sums up all my thoughts on Trella. She has some admirable traits, but she's also a bit too rebellious and too courageous, if that makes sense. Trella is almost an ideal rather than a real person and, in that way, falls a bit flat, as do all of the other characters to me. The characters are pleasant enough and enjoyable enough, but they just lack that intangible extra push that's hard to describe through words but you know it's there. The push that makes you cry with the characters and cheer for them in joy, especially during the Inside Out's many plot ups-and-downs. Plot-wise, the action and unraveling of the Inside were non-stop and unrelenting. It's action, action, action 24/7, and it helped me overlook many low points. Concept-wise, I can definitely see Maria V. Snyder going somewhere with her fairly original idea of "Inside" versus "Outside."

Ultimately, what made me give Inside Out a 3.5-star rating were not the flaws, but my simple opinion that the book just wasn't memorable for any reason, other than the general premise. I don't know what else to say; Inside Out was a solid, enjoyable read, but it just didn't make me deeply empathize with or relate to the characters or completely suck me into the story.  

Romance: Very sweet and promotes independence. I mentioned earlier that Riley is sweet, and he is. What else can you say about a boy who's willing to get arrested just to see you? And I liked how Trella isn't absolutely commitment-phobic, but she doesn't immediately consent to Riley's proposal nor gush on for pages about his looks.
Cover: 3.5. Simple, but well-suited and effective.
Writing: 3.0
Characters: 3.0
Plot: 4.0 

Bottom Line: Inside Out is an original, slightly dystopian tale that, with the light seasoning of romance, can be devoured quickly and leave you musing about what will happen next. It's a fairly solid recommendation for those that are just starting to go into dystopian novels or are just looking for a fast, enjoyable action-packed read with a sweet guy and from the POV of a brave heroine.