Publication Date: April 1st, 2010
I've heard so many fabulous things about Maria V. Snyder, and this book in particular, that I had to read it. I chose this book as m first foray into the works of Snyder because I am huge fan of dystopia and sci-fi, and this one fits the bill better than her other books...
This book was really good in a variety of ways. The writing was excellent. I find a lot of books have good stories and I like them for that reason, but the writing just sucks. Not at all the case here. Snyder knows her craft, and knows it well. It was original, which of course, is always good. The plot was intense, and the storyline easy to follow without being simplistic. The characters were well developed and relateable, which had to be difficult because, as readers, we were deliberately kept in the dark about a lot of the aspects of their lives. Add to that, the fact that the reader could not possibly relate to the characters on an "I've been there" basis, and I have to give the author many kudos. (I expect that many of those answers to my questions about the characters will come in book #2, Outside In.) The surprises came fairly frequently,and when I call them "surprises", I mean it. I would be reading along, thinking I knew what was going to happen next, and Bang!, a twist would be thrown in that would knock me for a total loop. For 2/3 of the book, I thought I saw a lot of parallels with Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I couldn't have been more wrong! The ending was pretty good, and not at all what I expected. Not necessarily happy either, although positive would be a decent adjective.
At first, I really didn't like Trella, the protagonist at all. She was cold, moody, and rather stuck-up. Not in a "I'm better than you" way, but in a "I can't be bothered with you because it's all about me" way. Throughout the story, as she grew as a person, I grew to like her. She reminded me a whole lot of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I really enjoyed a good number of the supporting characters. Affable and generous Cogon, of course, was a favorite. As was Riley, the Upper Trella befriends, and Logan the Tech-No. Jacy was another one I didn't like at first, but redeemed himself in my opinion. Then there were the characters I didn't like. Broken Man/Domotor was one of them. I know he's supposed to be a hero of sorts, but I felt like his motives weren't right (another unanswered question at this point). Of course, you MUST hate LCs Karla and Vinco. They were cruel and manipulative, but I think that goes without saying.
Overall, I gave this book four stars. The beginning was necessarily slow, but slow nonetheless. It left more questions than it answered, and there were a few things that happened that I felt didn't need to happen. I'm glad it look me eight months to mark this off of my To-Read list, because now I won't have wait for the sequel, which I will most definitely read.
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Grade Level Recommendation: Mature 4th graders and older. There is some talk about birth control as a means to control population growth, so a reader would have to understand where babies come from, and I know that some 4th graders haven't necessarily been educated on that. There are also themes of inequality between different classes of society, so a certain amount of understanding in that regard, is necessary to enjoy this book. There's some mild violence, but nothing worse than what's in Star Wars.