Samathy Barratt


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Book Review: Inside Out

I moved house last week. That meant packing up all my books into boxes. After I'd packed all my books away, I ended up wanting to read something again. Given that we were moving in mere days, I ended up picking up a Sci-Fi book that my fiancé had on their Kindle.

Inside Out - Mary V Snyder.

Inside out places the main character, Trella, 'Inside'. Shes a scrub. A lowly service worker. She is one of thousands of scrubs responsible for keeping 'Inside' clean and functional.

After her long-time friend, Cogon, introduces her to a dissident, Trella finds herself not only involved with a full blown rebellion against the ruling class of 'Uppers', but actually at the center of it.

I found the story to be merely fine. It was a tropey and predictable tale that introduced essentially nothing exciting, or interesting.

"It was a tropy and predictable tale that introduced essentially nothing exciting, or interesting."

The universe in which the book is set appears to be barely Sci and only a little bit Fi. It certainly isn't for fans of hard Sci-Fi, or space operas. The author spends zero time discussing the science elements of the universe. Which can only be expected considering the book is written from the point of view of a character who has only ever know a world inside a metal box. I can't help but feel that the setting is what it is because the author does not particularly want to write the Sci, and just wanted to write the Fi.

There could be ample opportunity to develop and delve into the socio-political situation inside Inside, but the author mostly ignores it. The reader is presented with the idea that 'Uppers' are upper-class, 'Pop Cops' are Nazi police and the scrubs are workers, thats about it. We don't really spend much time exploring what its like to be a scrub, aside from difficult and bad. Again, the use of telling the story from the Trella's point of view assists in avoiding more in-depth development of the inter-class relationships and political landscape of 'Inside'.

The characters were fairly dull. Predictable. All the characters you'd expect to exist, do; The older brother, the hacker/gadget maker, the member of the ruling class who risks all to help the rebellion, the exiled dissident and more. The supporting cast barely get any character development, and mostly stay in their lane of providing a function to the rebellion. Most of Trella's relationships with the other characters are also tropey and predictable.

I had a lot of trouble with the pacing of Inside Out. This was particularly apparent at the end of the book, where the author spends quite a few pages taking us with Trella in her final adventures before the conclusion, and then abruptly concludes the book with a short fight scene before the end. This is consistent throughout, spending entire chapters on less important aspects of the story. Carefully describing the environment and character's actions, only to then rush through the important bits with no where near enough detail.

The story was entertaining enough for what I wanted it for and there were some twists here and there. But ultimately, Trella always makes it out of her scrapes with support from her friend. The outcome is no surprise.

Even the conclusion for when/where/what 'Inside' is was entirely expected.

I've just started 'Outside In', the sequel, and honestly I just want to know how Snyder can possibly make an entire other book about this. Will the characters get some depth? Will the pacing improve? We'll see.


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