"Keep Your Head Down. Don't Get Noticed. Or Else.
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. The Trava family who rules our world from their spacious Upper levels wants us to be docile and obedient, like sheep. To insure we behave, they send the Pop Cops to police us. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous--the only neck at risk is my own.
Until a lower level prophet claims a Gateway to Outside exists. And guess who he wants to steal into the Upper levels to get the proof? You’re right. Me. I alone know every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple. But guess who can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered? Right again. Me.
I should have just said no..."
This is the first book in new young adult series from Maria V Snyder. I've read her Study series, and loved it, but I was cautious about reading this one. It's science fiction more than anything else, and I predominantly read urban fantasy generally not liking sci-fi. But a couple book buddies mentioned they loved this book and told me I had to read it. I trust their judgement and tried it. And fell in love.
Trella is a scrub, expected to do her job, keep her head down and stay in line, who only wants space to herself. To find it, she's learnt to hide out in the pipes she cleans. Her only friend is Cog, a guy who gets on with everyone. For him, she agrees to speak to Broken Man, a 'Prophet' who claims to have proof of 'Outside'. He wants Trella to retrieve it and because she can't refuse a challenge, she agrees. The consequences of her actions though, are far worse than she could have imagined.
I liked Trella from the start, although I'm certain she's not the kind of character everyone could like. She's distant and doesn't seem to care too much about anything, except finding a space she can get some peace away from people. Something I can relate to, I like my space too. Cog is more or less Trella's opposite, he cares about everyone. Watching them play off each other is sweet and funny. I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. It's a strong, fast plot with some great twists and turns. The end left me hanging and I wanted more badly. It's frustrating to know I've got a wait a year for the second book, Outside In. The characters are well rounded and while they all keep their secrets, we see and know enough about them to care about them. I felt Trella's fear of the Pop Cops easily and came to flinch at their mention. Ms. Snyder pulls no punches with this book and the hint of romance threaded in adds to the overall experience.
A fantastic book and one I'll happily reread. When I manage to get my hands on my own copy. Big thanks to xkenaix on Twitter for sending me hers to read :) This book may not be my usual style or preference, but it's got great characters and it's a world that while a little confusing to start with, is one you can understand and imagine easily through the narrative. I would highly recommend this book for those aspects, and because I had a tough job putting it down! 9/10