“All scrubs had the same schedule. Ten hours off, ten hour on, with a break every five hours. There no such things as vacations or holidays. Since one week equaled one hundred hours, we worked five shifts per week equaled one hundred hours, we worked five shifts per week. Everything in Inside could be divided by the number ten. It made life simple so even the scrubs could understand.”
That is monologue of Tella, the novel’s heroine and one of “scrubs”, in Inside Out written by Maria V. Snyder. If something hit you in your mind when you read the author’s name, you may read my previous blog article. Yes, Inside Out was written after her “Study” series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study ) and just published this summer. I bought this one because I really like those three books.
Now, you must be curious about “scrubs”. Well, before explaining about it, I’ll tell you about the setting where Tella is in. In the story, people live in a building structure called Inside. It has no window or door. You never be able to see or go “outside”. The temperature, air, light, everything is controlled by the computer. All of vegetables are hydroponically cultivated in the lowest floor. And everything is recycled. Kitchen scrapes and human waste become fertilizer. When people die there, they don’t go to the graveyard. They are sent to a big pulverizer named “Chomper” and changed to fertilizer! So, in this place, they call death “Recycling”…
So, what is scrub? They are kind of slaves to work for tiny percentage of upper people. Scrubs have no family. Children are separated from their biological mothers as soon as they are born and sent to “Care Mother (CM)”. “One CM for every ten children. Ten weeks equaled a deciweek, and a hundred weeks was called a centiweek. And so on.”
“ The work shifts were also staggered so only half the scrubs worked at one time. It saved room in the barracks. I shared my bunk with another scrub I never saw.” “Imagine every space in this room filled with people. Constantly being jostled and pushed. In the lower levels there is no quiet place. No peace.” That is, they are kind of farm animals…They are raised for becoming useful scrubs.
One day, Tella gets involved in a trouble. She finds herself becoming the dissident leader. There has been a rumor since long time ago: Gateway is somewhere. People believe if they find Gateway, they can run away from there and live freely. Anyone who disobeys orders or does something different from the schedule or their task is sent to “Chomper” and “Recycled” by the police called Pop Cops. Tella’s adventure for finding Gateway getting through lots of difficulties just begins!
Inside Out is a SF fantasy adventure book, not a romantic story at all…In spite of that, this book is published from Harlequin Teen… As Ms. Yukari Watanabe, the book reviewer, also wrote on her blog page, probably most boys don’t pick this book up because of the publisher. What a shame! Inside Out must captive boys if they start to read…Although I prefer the author’s previous “Study” series of books, I enjoyed this one, too. The sequel “Outside In” is coming next year!