Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
UK: January 2011, MIRA Ink, ISBN 0778304116
US: April 2010, Harlequin Teen, ISBN 0373210060
Notes: Whilst reading Inside Out I switched to and from a UK library book and a US e-copy supplied via Netgalley depending on where I was reading.
Review: Inside Out is set in "Inside" a sealed structure where the motto of reduce, reuse and recycle is taken to the nth degree as the inhabitants have a fixed amount of non-growable material to live on. They grow their own food but that's about all they produce (except children).
Trella is a scrub who, along with thousands of other manual workers, lives in the bottom two floors of the building. Their job is to keep everything clean and working and supply food and water etc for the whole society. The upper two floors are occupied by those overseeing the running of the building such as the police - the Population Control Police (Pop Cops) - and other white-collar workers.
Trella is known as "Queen of the Pipes" as she spends all her time either cleaning the pipes (air, water) or exploring them in her off time and often sleeping in them. She knows all there is to know about the layout of Inside and is able to access a lot of it.
There is supposedly a Gateway to the outside (whatever that is) but no-one knows if it exists and the belief is that you only go through it when you die and only then if you've been good. However a new prophet in the lower levels claims to be able to prove it exists but he needs Trella's help. He has left the proof in the duct over his room in the upper floors. She reluctantly agrees to retrieve it so that she can prove to her friend Cog that Gateway does not exist. However a simple mistake alerts the Pop Cops and then an accidental killing pits the Pop Cops against Trella and her friends.
The Pop Cops will use any means necessary to retrieve the proof, the prophet and ultimately Trella and she has to disappear. Fortunately she has some support in the upper levels, in particular Riley, of a similar age to Trella, and who wants to improve conditions for the scrubs.
Over the course of Inside Out, Trella transforms from an almost friendless loner to the leader of something bigger as the scrubs fight back...
Inside Out is a fabulous read. I haven't felt so tense reading a book for a long time. I almost wasn't brave enough to pick it up at times to see where it was going. Trella is a tough cookie, not particularly likeable, at least at first, but one that you'll root for. The bad guys, led by Lieutenant Commander Karla, are very frightening.
Initially, the set up slightly reminded of Logan's Run however the inhabitants of Inside don't disappear when they reach the equivalent of 30 but when they do die they are fed to the terrifyingly named "Chomper".
This is mostly an action-thriller but there are some tender moments between Trella and Riley as they start to dispel the lies and distrust instilled by the Pop Cops.
By the end, some of the secrets of Inside are revealed but more are left to be answered in the sequel, Outside In, which I can't wait to read!