Thursday, February 10, 2011
Outside In, by Maria V. Snyder--Review
This is the second book in a series, and so I had to pick up clues to the backstory while reading this one. There was enough there that it wasn't a serious problem.
The setting is a generational colony ship headed from parts unknown to parts unknown. The original, or at least the previous, governing structure had been overthrown generations earlier, and the population of the ship divided into Uppers and Scrubs. The tensions in that society came to a head in the previous book, Inside Out, the ruling class dominated by the Trava family was overthrown, and a new government and social structure, intended to be more egalitarian, was created.
As the new book opens, the rebels against the previous regime are finding out that sometimes governing is harder than it looks, and overthrowing a bad government doesn't automatically mean that the new system will work. Trella, the seventeen-year-old leader of the Force of Sheep that spear-headed the rebellion, thinks she's too young and inexperienced to take a leading role in the new government, and insists on deferring to older and presumably wiser heads. She has accepted only an advisory seat on the ruling Committee, and then resigns even that, since she thinks she's more useful exploring the world they now know is a ship, and much larger than they previously thought.
But some of her fellow Scrubs resent the fact that the Uppers still mostly do the relatively soft jobs, while Scrubs still do the heavy, filthy, and sometimes dangerous work. The Trava family is mostly locked up in the brig, and wants out--and they have the greatest technical knowledge of the ship, including knowledge of the Transmission, the ship's drive and power plant.
And then some party identifying itself simply as the Controllers starts taking control of various critical ship's systems. Trella and some of her friends and allies think it's the Travas. Some of the Scrubs, the ones who have kept working but are not happy with the new system, think it's, in essence, the ancestors, the forces that are supposed to be the ultimate governing force in their world, which have been ignored by both the Committee and the Travas before them. And they start cooperating with the Controllers.
Trella finds herself unwillingly drawn back into politics, espionage, and eventually rebellion again, trying to figure out who are her allies and who are her enemies--and then finding out that she has to cooperate with her enemies, as they all confront the alarming fact that, if their world is a spaceship, then there are people outside the ship.
This is an exciting, entertaining story with lots of plot twists to keep you guessing what will happen on the next page, and engaging characters to help you care.
I received a free electronic galley of this book via NetGalley.