Book Review: Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

I actually read Maria V. Snyder‘s Outside In (Young Adult Fantasy 326 pages) last weekend but things elsewhere in my life kind of got carried away and I didn’t write up my review. So here it is now.

Overall, I really like the story here. My one biggest concern is that I think I (as the reader) am expected to do math in order to really grasp the whole potential of the story. The very first page starts with the world broken down into weeks. Hundreds of thousands of weeks. I fully admit that there was some small part of me (and there still is that small part of me) that wants to break out a calculator and figure out how many years 147,019 or 852,981 weeks would be. But I don’t like math that much. So my brain decided that those really big numbers meant that the people in the story had been travelling for a long, long time, and that they have even longer left to go. That small part of me is being curious as to whether Trella’s generation will be the ones to actually reach their destination,  but even the idea of having to do simple math makes it more likely that I will just brush those small details back somewhere into my head and not worry too much about it.

One of the really interesting parts of this story and the part that appeals to me the most is the idea of the imperfect relationship. Trella and Riley don’t have a magical relationship where everything is perfect and they are wonderful and happy with each other all the time. Sometimes, you treat those you love the worst.

It amuses me a bit that my actual beliefs and the things I chose to read in my free time are often on opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t think I actually believe that there is even the potential for a happy ending for me in my life, but I persist in reading stories where everything works out, those who love are willing to forgive each other and move forward, and the good guys win in the end. I don’t think that my life is actually like that. Those I have loved have not forgiven me and flat-out left my life. My world is filled with unfairness and injustice, where people who do amazing things can’t be properly rewarded and those who are less-than-ethically sound and have no care for those that work for them win the day while those who try to do the right thing are often punished and wind up losing heart. I guess that’s why I read so many stories where the couple winds up with a happy enough for now ending and you feel as though justice has been served.

Just like what happened with Outside In. I have to admit that the idea of being on a spaceship for an extended period of time and not even knowing you’re on a spaceship would be rather unnerving. Especially if you had no concept as to what space really is. If you were the original people who sent the ship into space, fully knowing that it would be a trip that would take generations to accomplish, what would you do? How would you govern things? Would you adopt a policy of fierce reproductive rights to ensure that your limited resources would last? Would a democracy fit that model better or something like a dictatorship? How would you protect and back up the information that the population would actually need once they arrived at their destination? All these questions are valid ones brought up during the course of this book.

Even more interesting is that you can see that their system is broken, but you can also see that just about every system would break down over time. There is no perfect way to run any society, let alone a society trapped in a space ship on a trip to another galaxy, life, or planet. It really makes you think about whether or not the original people who sent the ship out or who boarded the ship to begin the journey were the only ones or if the creators and designers figured that there would be problems and so they sent out multiple ships. And wouldn’t that be some sort of fascinating social experiment. Send out a variety of ships with a variety of people on a journey that would take generations to complete and then see where each ship evolves or where each ship fails.

Overall, this is a very intriguing story line and I will likely continue to follow it, as it makes my brain nice and filled with all sorts of interesting questions and thoughts.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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