Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
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Keep Your Head Down.
Don't Get Noticed.
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.
This is my first Maria Snyder book and I'm more than pleased to say: it definitely won't be my last! She has created such a captivating, intriguing, original new world. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started, but what I found was a thoroughly unique and refreshing atmosphere that I did not want to leave!
Trella, otherwise known as the Queen of the Pipes, is a scrub who lives in the lower levels. It's her job to clean the pipes and ensure Inside stays clean and rust-free. She deliberately distances herself from her fellow scrubs, who she sees more-or-less as a herd of obediant sheep. There's only one person who she willingly associates with - Cogon. Her one friend in the crowded, over-populated lower levels she craves to be free of, a boy she grew up in the same Care group as. And it's him who persuades her to see the supposed prophet, Broken Man, who claims he knows where to find Gateway - a doorway to the Outside.
It's on a whim that she decides to follow Broken Man's instructions in retrieving a number of disks he had hidden. He says they contain information on Gateway's whereabouts. Trella doesn't believe in such nonsense - or maybe just doesn't want to give herself that kind of hope. So she makes her way through the pipes to uncover the disks and sets off the start of what will change their entire existence and by doing so, marks herself as the leader of a rebellion. I loved what this did for Trella, the growth it allowed her to have over the course of the novel. She began working as a team with others, forming genuine friendships and getting to know people for the first time, eventually realising that they aren't so much different to her afterall.
In her journeys through the pipes, she stumbles across a secret storeroom... well, not-so-secret to the Upper-level boy using it. Riley. Aw, I adore Riley! There is a light touch of romance that begins to develop between him and Trella, which was really sweet and innocent. Riley was a great character and the whole "Sheepy" thing was too adorable! With all the fictional bad boys who often like to dominate our hearts, Riley has the genuine 'nice guy' vibe going for him, yet he's not boring in any way. He's cute and charming with a stubborn streak. And while he had to work on gaining Trella's trust, there's no doubt the connection between them is going to heighten in the sequel. They completely changed one another's view of the Uppers and Lowers, coming to the realisation that they've all been fed lies to create enmity between the levels.
I really loved all the characters in this book. Trella had a strong and compelling voice that kept me glued to the pages. She's stubborn, tough and rational - a real headstrong character who I loved to watch grow. The secondary characters were equally as awesome - from Cogon, ever the optimistic and people-person, to Logan the techno genius. Characters are the meat of a novel - you can have an amazing plot, but if your characters suck, it's a total flop. But even if the plot sucks, there's still a chance at survival if your characters are captivating. Maria has nothing to worry about though, she has both the endearing characters AND the kickass dystopian plot that you'll be hard pressed to draw your ink-smudged nose away from me. Trust me, I tried, but the darn book just sucked me back in again.
There was some level of predictability, but it never stopped me from turning the pages faster and faster to see what would happen next. There was still a few shocks in store for me! And the lure of Outside was too tempting to resist. Did it really exist? Would they find it in time? If they did find it, what was really beyond the Gateway? When all was revealed, I was actually quite surprised. I wasn't expecting what was uncovered! Plus the whole characters in peril, coming uprising, ignorance between the Uppers and Lowers, danger, action and mystery were all kind of... hmm, what's the word? Addictive!
Thank the Force of Sheep I had the sequel nearby as soon as I finished!