Stubborn, insulting and reckless, the teen protagonist, Trella, is difficult to like. With no family or friends, there is no reason for her to even pretend to function in the dystopian society that holds her prisoner. But once Trella becomes involved in the political intrigue she has tried so hard to avoid, the same traits that the reader dislikes are exactly what makes her a great leader – and possible savior – of her people. The author deftly examines Trella’s transformation as she goes from immature girl to confident woman ready to take on the evil around her. While Trella is a complex and realistic character, the setting of the novel is the real star. The tight spaces in the ‘inside’ capture the reader’s imagination as we climb through the forbidden airshafts along with Trella. The claustrophobic feeling that permeates this world is perfectly conveyed in this unforgettable novel. A must read for both teens and adults!

Trella has no last name and no identity to separate her from the other thousands of scrubs she lives with on the ‘inside’. Forced to live in overcrowded public spaces, without hope or comfort, the scrubs spend all day working and cleaning. Miserable in the crowds, Trella separates herself by spending her time sneaking thorough the maze of pipes that divides the lower levels from the forbidden upper world. On one such trip, Trella stumbles onto the secret that can help the scrubs escape from their harsh existence. With this knowledge Trella suddenly finds herself leading the way to freedom. (HARLQUIN TEEN, April, 315 pp., $9.99)

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Reviewed by: 
Morgan Doremus