As a whole, Outside In felt extremely rushed, as if Snyder realised she had dragged to the middle of the book and then needed to conclude the book in a certain time frame or page count.
Gone was the expert storytelling and weaving in of clues to be found in Inside Out or Poison Study from Snyder's Study Series. Instead, the reader was simply told of the constant betrayals and mutating loyalties of the characters in the book. Ultimately, the reader was left not knowing who to believe or, indeed, what the truth actually was. This was certainly complicated by the shallow characterisation in the book. It was impossible to gleam the characters' true motives or intentions as no real depth or purpose was written into their actions.
As the book rushes towards its end, the great battle, resolution and conclusion take about 15 pages and it seems like few of the great questions are really answered. It is frustrating to say the least and it is hard to ascertain whether Snyder is setting the reader up for another book in the series or whether the answers were altogether too vague and insubstantial to leave an impression.
As impressive as it is that Snyder has managed to produce eight novels in six years, it is important that Snyder focus on quality as opposed to quantity. Poison Study and Inside Out were fantastic novels introducing rich and wonderful worlds full of detail, imagination and innovation. Perhaps this level of disappointment would not be possible with a less talented author but Maria V. Snyder is talented and I hope that she slows down somewhat and focuses again on weaving exciting and complex stories.
Outside In is not a stand-alone novel and it would be hard to follow the events if the reader had not read Inside Out first. However, the reader could certainly get away with enjoying the first novel and leaving out the sequel altogether. I give Outside In two out of five stars and would possibly hesitate before reading a third novel in this series.