13th January 2011, Mira Ink
334 pages, Paperback
Young Adult, dystopian/sci-fi
Techno-geeks and funky devices, lots of peril, drama and tension, humour, plenty of plot twists and surprises, some blood and a little violence, gymnastics, friendship, family ties, superiority, mutiny
Summary from the press release
Keep your head down. Don’t get noticed. Or else…
Meet Trella. She’s a scrub whose sole purpose in life is to work to keep the airvents and pipes clean for the Uppers, which means living in the lower levels with thousands of other scrubs in filth and squalor.
Living in a divided world, where she is overworked, under-appreciated and misunderstood by even her peers, Trella seeks solitude in the pipes, earning her the duly nickname ‘Queen of the Pipes’. Here, Trella can only dream for an escape to the Outside, and freedom.
When her only companion Cog introduces her to the Broken Man (so-called on account of his broken, useless legs), who claims he knows of The Gateway - an escape route to the Outside - of course, Trella is sceptical. However, she agrees to embark on a search for proof, in the form of data disks. When the Pop Cops learn of her quest and intervene, she realises there must be some truth to this mysterious portal, and becomes even more determined in her in her ruthless hunt for an answer…
Although I could have put this book aside until nearer publication date (rather than reading it in mid-November), I read it all the day it arrived in the post. I love Maria's work. There was no way I couldn't leave this book alone. She has done it again! I thought the series with Yelena (Study series) and Opal (Glass series) were brilliant. This is too! It is quiet different from the other books - it's a different genre for a start. There is no magic involved, but instead there is technology and lots of secrets. I was able to see a few generic similarities which made me feel at home: a strict hierarchy in society (although much stricter than Ixia), a definite divide between the classes. Trella is hunted by the authorities - just like Yelena and Opal were. Friends really aren't made by scrubs, but Trella makes a few without trying. She doesn't want to because they can get hurt, but it happens because of who she is. She suffers severely in the novel, which had me on the edge of my seat. Her life is far from easy. She makes mistakes which cost her dearly. And yet she is only bent, never broken. She makes it through to the end of the book, not without tragedy, but she grows so much from it. She is rather mature already, and her adventure adds a lot of courage to her character. I loved how agile she is. I loved the continual twists of the plot. I was dumbstruck when I read the final few chapters - those were spectacular secrets to learn about. The need (and actualisation) for a mutiny/revolution is present throughout the whole story, and I liked watching it unfold. At many times I thought Trella was doomed, and that there was no way her vision could be actualised. Her life is very hard, but there are some heartfelt moments which made me heart feel gooey. Each sentence had me hooked - I even stayed up late to finish reading it. Maria is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite authors, and it is a real pleasure to be able to have a question and answer session with her here! (link to be added shortly) The cover is funky, and at the end there is some advice from Trella on how to survive life inside. It will be fun to re-read this book, knowing the whole story. I can look for the clues I missed!
Get ready to be surprised with Inside Out. This unputdownable book ticks many boxes on my 'What Makes a Good Book' list, and adds some boxes that I didn't know existed.
The sequel, Outside In will be released in February, so you haven't got too long to wait!
Make sure you check out Maria's other books