Feb 10, 2011

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Ever since I first heard about Inside Out I really wanted to read it. One thing you may remember about me is that I like to know as little about a book as possible.  I read just enough to find out if I’m interested and nothing more.  This can be good and bad. It can be bad when a assume a book is one way and it ends up being absolutely nothing like my assumption.  I am not really sure where this first idea came from, maybe a review or something, but I thought that Inside Out seemed somewhat similar to one of my favorite dystopian novels The Declaration by Gemma Malley. I was hoping this book would be just the kind of dystopian fiction I enjoyed but I worried it would be too light or too romance driven.

  

A lot of dystopian novels deal with ideas of  class.  Class in the future is almost like the new race, and different books deal with this in different ways.  Orwell has the proles, Malley has the surplus, and Snyder has the scrubs. I think  setting up the dynamic of upper and lower class in dystopian societies is extremely fascinating.  It is one of the best ways to suggest the dark side of utopia.  For most dystopias are meant to have a utopian root.  And what we see in this utopia is the haves. You can see an often socialist system taking on the capitalistic view of the haves and the have nots.  And how often the have nots only purpose in a society is to serve the haves.

 

Each book deals with their classes in a different way.  In the end of the 1984 I tend to have a feeling that the party members and the proles are separate but equal.  One might think that they are better than the other but when it comes down to it each class of people lives their life independently yet alongside each other.  In The Declaration one can see that the surplus are truly victims of the greedy upper and older class.  And in Inside Out the two classes end up being equally miserable and misinformed about the other class. Each of these story lines is integral to the story being told. They bring both balance and disharmony to each of these books.

 

The relationship between the classes in Inside Out one of the more realistically balanced ones I have read.  Snyder is able to build in a variety of interactions between classes.  This is essential to the world building element of any dystioian or fictional story because there are always different types of people no matter what kind of world they live in.  Especially in dystopian fiction people can get a cookie cutter feel, sometimes that feeling is extremely intentional, but other times it is a result of poor world building and a lack of understanding for the struggles of each individual characters.  Within the pages of Inside Out there are characters who are caring, compassionate, silly, stupid, ignorant, violent, and irrational.  But not one of those words would be used to describe one class as whole but not the other.

 

While Inside Out does not have the overwhelming psychology that made me fall in love with The Declaration, it did have many other elements that made it a very successful and enjoyable novel for me.  When the two classes, the uppers and the lowers, meet face to face they see they are not that different from each other.  Trella and Riley find what they understand about each other is mostly grounded in fiction.  This equalizing moment is very different from anything I have ever read in dystopian fiction before.  Dystopia is so much about the rivalry between the haves and the have nots.  Usually it isn’t about money or food, but it is about those who have power and those who don’t.  To see this moment that isn’t about fighting each other but  understanding each other that is a really nice element. This does hinge partly on the fact that the scrubs misunderstand who has the power.  This element of misdirection also builds a great dynamic in the story.

 

The scrubs in Inside Out have a secret hope.  That hope is called Gateway.  Scrubs are sick of the rules and the work and they want to be free from it all on the outside.  But as the story goes on it is apparent that a lot of people have an interest in Gateway, no matter what their class.  It is only the population police who seem to be concerned with it not being found and the rest of the population looking for it.

 

This book worked for me in so many ways it surprised me.  The world building was great. Snyder created a great way for the different characters to interact with each other. Everything had a nice flow it and nothing felt particularly forced. There were a few moments I was confused on character motivations, but I am willing to accept or dismiss that. One of the best parts of Inside Out was definitely the ending.  It makes me very, very eager for the second book Outside In.

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