When I first saw this book, I didn't think too much of it. it's not that there was anything WRONG with it, but it just didn't grab me. There's so much dystopia saturating the YA market right now, it's hard to discern the good from the bad. However, I started reading a lot of favorable reviews for this book from blogs that I really love. There were enough to change my mind, and quite frankly, I'm glad I did.
I'm not familiar with Snyder's writing; I've never read any of her other series. With that said, this was my first taste of her writing, and I have to say, I'm happy with it. I liked the first-person POV and enjoyed Trella's voice. While she's a very cynical character who was very capable of taking care of herself, I didn't feel like she ever fell into that "kick-ass heroine" trope (which I'm really picky about; I love strong female characters, but I find the "kick-ass" variety to be kind of irritating if not done right.)
The setting was pretty well developed, even if it isn't something that's wholly original (I found it somewhat similar to the movie The Island) and I have to say that the true nature of "Outside" surprised me (in a good way.) After I digested it and thought it through a bit, it made a whole lot sense, but as I'm fairly unfamiliar with the SF genre, it wasn't something that was obvious or apparent to me while reading.
Another aspect I really appreciated of the novel was the relationship one: I found that Trella and Riley's relationship developed at a nice pace, and never did they express feelings of being in love with one another and absolutely needing each other which YA romances tend to do all too much. There's obviously romantic feelings between them, but they don't immediately jump to a desperate and obsessive kind of romantic interest. Snyder also stayed away from the dreaded love triangle that's also rampant in YA fiction recently. I was afraid that she was going to present Riley AND Cog as romantic interests, but thankfully she kept Cog as the older-brother figure. With that being said, I really enjoyed Cog and Trella's relationship as well. Their sibling-like relationship was well-realized.
The main plot is wrapped up well in this novel, but it leaves plenty of room for a sequel, and there is one planned: Outside In which is due to be released sometime this year. The ending left me with feelings of "Really? How are they going to pull THAT off?", so it'll be interesting to see how the sequel plays out. :)
Final Verdict: I definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of dystopia fiction and young adult. I don't know how this compares to Snyder's other works, so I can't say if I would recommend this to her fans, but as a first-timer, I enjoyed it quite a bit and am interested in checking out her other fantasy series. It's a read that's a bit on the lighter side, but I don't mean this in a bad or derogatory way; it's just a lot of fun and does a lot of things right. I'll definitely be checking out the sequel, Outside In, when it comes out sometime this year.