Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dystopia Challenge Review #1: Inside Out, Maria V. Snyder

Trella is a scrub on the lower levels of Inside. She's known as Queen of the Pipes, an epitaph that describes both her knowledge of the air ventilation system that supports Inside and her aloofness form her fellow scrubs. A prophet appears on the lower levels asking for her by name. Trella doesn't trust prophets; they spread propaganda for the Pop Cops and build false hope about the existence of Gateway, the way Outside.

I approached Inside Out with some trepidation. I adore Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study, but my last experience reading a Harlequin Teen book was utterly dismal. I was also nervous about a dystopian book being published under a romance imprint. Would it be stripped of all its misery, angst and pain in favour of a fluffy, happily-ever-after ending? I wasn't concerned about Snyder's ability to write a book in this genre as Poison Study has strong communistic/oppressive overtones.

Inside Out was sanitised in some repects--which I'll discuss below--but is a book that mostly lives up to its hype. The strengths lie in the world Snyder has constructed--the mystery of what Inside is, what it is for and its mechanics; the social levels and classes; and the authoritarian Pop Cops. I found the engineering the most interesting of all. Why, for instance, the very outer wall of Inside is ice cold. Snyder has put a lot of thought into how a structure like Inside could work and the details are fascinating. When it comes to setting, this book shines.

I was disappointed that Inside Out seemed to shy away from the fear, loss and pain that characters would undoubtedly feel when faced with their own and their friends' persecution, execution and torture. Some very extreme things happen in Inside Out and some truncated emotional responses jarred. Snyder is no stranger to describing pain, torture and incarceration more than adequately, and I wonder if Harlequin Teen required her toned things down.

There's always a romance in a Harlequin book and Inside Out is no exception. **Spoilers here but not really, we all know what's going to happen and the sexual tension is about zilch** I felt genuine affection for Riley. The "realisation" scene fell a little flat for me. I thought it would come with a few more bells and whistles, but no. Sigh. Is it just me who craves long, drawn out sexual tension these days? Make me wait until book two. Hell, make me wait until book SEVEN.

Inside Out is a surprising offering from Harlequin Teen--a pleasant surprise. This book will be enjoyed by newbie dystopian lovers and seasoned ones alike. I'm very curious as to how the series will progress as there's a massive barrier to what would in most scenarios be the climax of the series, and this fascinates me. Outside In is available March 2011.

Invisible discussion for those of you who've read the book: Maybe I'm incredibly stupid, but that teaser on the last page, "What's behind the door?!" was an editorial mistake, right? I mean, Trella opened the door and there were other levels there. Serious blooper.

This massive barrier to the climax that I mentioned is that they wont get to their destination until week one million, but that's about 800,000 weeks away and Trella etc will all be dead. They can't turn around either because they're too far into space. Where do you think this is going to go?


  1. 1) Yay! A post from you!

    2) I read everything in this post (even the whited out spoilers) because although I did get this book at BEA, I have the exact same trepidation you expressed in reading this novel. The Study and Glass series are brilliant fantasy and I was worried about the more sci-fi aspects of the new novel as well as - Harlequin Teen. *shudder* So I am happy that you reacted in a way that I think I will react. I might try this one now since I can't seem to focus on anything else I am reading at the moment.

  2. Hey darls! Yes it's been a while. I've been wound up pretty tight recently and the blog always suffers when that happens. I rule it not the other way round, ha! My novels have to take precedence.

    *Shudder* indeed. I reckon you'll enjoy this one though.

  3. I think I'm going to read this one. Hanging out for a while to see if my library will get it on their catalogue...

    I don;t mind romance-y sub-plots, but without sexual tension, it's a bit like 'what is the point?'

  4. QUITE. If I'm not excited about that first kiss and they're not excited when it happens, what's the frakking point?!

  5. I waited for this one not-so-patiently, got it immediately, and now it's just been sitting on the shelf...

    I must remember to read it soon! Glad to hear that it was a pleasant surprise. It's on my list.

  6. "Is it just me who craves long, drawn out sexual tension these days? Make me wait until book two. Hell, make me wait until book SEVEN."

    AMEN! Make me believe it! I don't believe it's anything but infatuation and lust if it's some immediate thing, and I just wait for that to burn out, so I never believe they are "meant to be" blahblahblah.

    I read a galley of this, and I don't recall the typo at the end, which is weird, because that means they *added* a typo? Maybe? I dunno.

  7. I reckon you'll like it Celia!