Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (NY: Harlequin Teen, 2010).
Seventeen-year-old Trella is a scrub, aka a lower, which means she spends her ten-hour shifts cleaning the pipes and ducts of all four levels of the insular world she inhabits. She hates the crowded space allotted to scrubs on the lower two levels of Inside, so she's the "Queen of the Pipes," and spends most of her time, including her off-hours, crawling around the shafts. She's skeptical when her only friend, Cog, takes her to listen to yet another prophet proclaiming there's a better place Outside. But then Trella gets involved in locating some disks the prophet has hidden in the ducts above his room in his upper level dwelling before he was beaten and paralyzed by the Pop Cops and dumped in the lower levels. Trella starts out thinking she'll disprove the prophet, but ends up leading a rebellion that involves all the scrubs fighting against the ruthless uppers and their domination of the lower levels through brute force and propaganda.
Snyder has fashioned a fascinating dystopia, and Trella is a great character. While it lacks the outlandish displays of power that make Hunger Games so memorable, Inside Out has plenty of action that keeps the plot moving along. Trella has to grow as a character and learn to trust others. She also has to overcome her resistance to the leadership role that has been thrust upon her. There's a bit of romance, as Trella becomes involved with an upper named Riley, but it's fairly muted, so the novel will appeal to both boys and girls. Recommended for ages 12 & up.
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