Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction
Full review is this-a-way.
Yes, this is the sequel to last year's Inside Out, and you really do need to have read the first one to get much out of this one. There are bite-sized explanations for what's going on, but without all the history of who Trella is and where she's come from, you'd be missing a lot. Besides, I really liked the first book, so it's not like I'm sending you some sort of punishment by telling you to get your paws on that one first.
Now that Trella's Team Sheep has beaten out the ruling Travas and removed them from power, the people of Inside have to figure out how to rule themselves. The leaders of the rebellion have formed a committee to try and run things, but most of what they do seems to involve talking. Lots and lots of talking, which never actually resolves anything or makes decisions. Things on the Inside are falling apart as the Lowers start leaving their menial jobs, fed up with doing all the work, and the Uppers refuse to dirty their hands with anything more strenuous than paperwork. The "us against them" mentality cultivated by the Travas is as strong as ever, and if they can't figure out a way to get everyone working together, life Inside will fall to pieces.
Trella has no interest in leading anyone, but because of her role in the rebellion, people keep insisting she do things like attend meetings and solve problems. She'd really rather be off exploring or trying to spend time with her boyfriend, but with so many demands on her time she really doesn't have a chance to do much of anything.
The problems of Inside might be more than Trella and the committee are able to deal with, though, especially once they discover someone is trying to take over from the Outside. These Outsiders have anything but benevolence in plan, and with the Insiders so fractured, there isn't really any hope of trying to keep them from taking over and endangering or killing everyone, is there?
I like Trella a lot. I think she's an interesting and relatable protagonist, a strong young woman plagued with insecurities just like the rest of us. She's a reluctant hero, someone who would much rather just be free to live her life than have to deal with the big picture. She's stubborn and occasionally single-minded and just wonderfully flawed in a very real way. I think a big part of the reason I enjoy reading these books is because I enjoy spending time with Trella.
I also love that a big part of this book deals with what happens after. It's something rarely dealt with once the hero's journey is completed. We've dethroned the evil empire and now everything will just be roses and sunshine forever, right? Well, not so much, and I really love that Outside In goes there.
On the other hand, why exactly is an antisocial seventeen-year-old girl the best option they've got for world leader? Seriously, isn't there someone wiser and more experienced who could possibly take on the job? No? Really? You sure? I mean, I realize this is a YA novel and all, but you're stretching the boundaries of my suspension of disbelief here. I'm willing to go along with it as long as I'm reading the book, but as soon as I put it down, my brain starts going "wait, what?" again.
I have no hesitation in saying that I enjoyed reading this book, but I also have no hesitation in saying I enjoyed its predecessor much more. I like the ideas explored, I like the protagonist and the way she continues to grow and change from the misanthropic loner we met at the beginning of the first book, but I didn't feel this was as solid a read as I've come to expect from Ms. Snyder.