Maria V. Snyder is best known for her Study series (Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study) which are fantasy novels. However, this time Maria V. Snyder has branched out into the Young Adult Sci-Fi section and these two books were a great start.
This story focuses around a young woman named Trella who is a scrub, or someone who cleans the pipes of the Inside. Scrubs live in the Inside which is a massive superstructure with two main social classes: Scrubs and the Uppers. Scrubs perform the menial tasks while Uppers police them and do all the jobs that require technology proficient people. Like any society, the Inside is strife with conspiracy theories. At the urging of her best friend, Trella uses her skills of navigating the pipes to get answers about who is actually controlling the Inside. With each new piece of information she uncovers, the plot thickens to include several high ranking Uppers, some crafty siblings, and a very knowledgeable sheep.
Although the premise sounds really intriguing, the execution of this novel was a little shaky. It’s really hard to identify with and like a main character who dislikes everything and everyone she comes in contact with. Trella regard everyone with suspicion and it’s increasingly difficult to trust a character who is unreliable in her decisions and motivations.
I feel like Maria V. Snyder drew out all the great plot points she wanted to include and then tried to write a story around it with a half-realized romantic subplot. Sometimes the writing gets so bland the subplots so complex I wanted to flip through the book until everything slowed down and the story was actually being shown to me, not told. Everything happens so fast there’s hardly any build up so the entire story ends up exploding in your face. Some readers may like that, but occasionally it’s nice to have a little suspense and thrill when reading a novel.
Ultimately this was a valiant effort for Snyder to write outside her comfort zone. Perhaps with some time and a little more character and plot development, she will become just as amazing with this genre as she is with fantasy.