“Saying I missed you doesn’t come close. I require you.”
I’ve put off reading Inside Out for the longest time. I can give you a thousand reasons about tour and ARC review obligations but they wouldn’t be completely true. I’ve read filler books in between and I had plenty of chances to read Inside Out.
My one and only reason for not reading Inside Out? I was scared.
Scared to death about letting Talia and Bran go. Scared to death about Lia Riley not being able to deliver an ending I’d be content with. Scared because these characters were almost home to me and Lia Riley is undoubtedly one of my favorite authors.
But I finally decided to take the plunge. And while I still stand by every fear that I had before reading this book, I can also happily say that Inside Out was just exactly what I’d hoped it would be and Lia Riley still stands as one of my favorite authors.
Sideswiped ended with Bran going out to work with Sea Alliance whereas Talia joined the Peace Corps in South Africa. And just four months later, what she contracts isn’t just stomach flu. It’s worse. It’s deadlier.
Inside Out is by far the most aptly named book in the series. All the book names have their merits, no doubt, but this book was literally the point in Talia and Bran’s story where they both had to stoop and bend and crouch and turn their lives inside out for each other.
I loved Talia in this book. I’ve loved her throughout, actually, but in Inside Out she’s outgrown who she used to be by far. She’s strong and determined yes, she’s also insecure and sick, but she’s Natalia Stolfi and throughout this series, she’s proved that all Stolfis overcome whatever life throws at them. As a third person looking at her life from the outside, I think Talia owned this book. It was all her and her growth and her love for Bran that I’m sure was tangible to him.
But that’s not to say that Bran was far behind when it came to growth as a person. This is the same boy we’re talking about who called himself the tin man, a man without a heart. The same boy who wouldn’t support Talia when she wanted to pursue her dreams overseas. And the very same man who sticks by his woman, even though she pushes him away.
Together, Talia and Bran struggled through a lot of circumstances other couples wouldn’t face. For starters, Talia’s OCD. Bran’s shitty non-relationship with his family. Talia’s shitty non-relationship with her mother. Her sister’s death and the ensuing guilt. His one mistake at Sea Alliance that almost cost a woman her life.
But not once, not even once, did they run. They faced their problems head on and together, which is precisely why they’ll probably always be one of my favorite couples in New Adult history.
Another thing I loved? The other characters that were an equally huge part of the story. Scott Stolfi. Jessie. Wyatt. Z. Chester. Loved them all ❤
Saying goodbye isn’t easy, I realize that. And to a book series? Hell no. It makes everyone sad and kind of bummed out. And I already ranted on Twitter a lot the day that I finished Inside Out. So I’m mostly over being sad. Instead I’m being hopeful that the next series Lia Riley writes brings us readers as much, if not more, joy than Off The map bought.
Here’s to you two, Talia and Bran. You made it, guys.
Thank you SO MUCH for doing an author interview with Rhea’s Neon Journal. I’m sending you plenty of happy boob gropes and red velvet cupcakes 🙂
Aw, thank you, Rhea! You sure know how to treat a girl right xoxo
- What is your favorite thing about Talia, Bran and both of them together?
Hmmm. Let me think… Talia is quietly courageous, Bran has a huge heart, and they each see that quality in the other, when no one else can.
- Many novels begin with just a sentence, a lyric, a picture. Was there anything of the sort that led to Upside Down?
What a wonderful question! I’ve never been asked this before. The short answer is…yes. I was sitting in my car on a rare California rainy day, mulling how to open Upside Down. The windows were fogged up and I wiped a small hole to peer outside. Immediately I got the image of Talia doing the same thing to her bedroom window and things went from there. 🙂
- What is the most unexpected thing you learned from your story?
For me, at it’s heart, this series is about getting out of your own way to achieve personal fulfillment and happiness. I was nervous drafting these books (my first) and in many ways, harbored just as many fears and self-doubts as my characters. Finishing Off the Map taught me that I could do something scary (wing a three-part series with interconnected characters), and that’s bolstered my own writing confidence.
- What was your favorite scene of all, in the entire trilogy? Share a teaser?
Each book has a few scenes that made me really happy to write (although I get oddly happy writing sad scenes, so don’t mind me). But the one that really felt like a gift came in Inside Out. It’s rare, R-A-R-E I tell you, that I draft a scene in a single take. But the moment Talia finds Bran, ahem, in the shower was one. I really love this scene because it was a successful bout of trance-like writing and it (to me) captures the essence of Talia and Bran in their love and vulnerability.
Here’s a snippet:
His irises are an impossible green, like a thermal pool, hot, dangerous. You know you shouldn’t touch, what will happen if you do. It will scald. You won’t even be left with skin. But this is the kind of look that overrides good judgment, despite, or maybe even due to, the danger. Even though I was the original architect of this safety fence, I’m tempted to jump the rail and burn.
His top teeth jut out, far enough to catch his lower lip and bite down. Yearning compresses my capillaries. Slit my wrists and rubies will spill forth.
He increases the pace, his heavy-lidded gaze one part desire and one part amused. His mouth crooks in a slow, wicked smile.
He knows exactly what he’s doing.
He doesn’t ask me to join. He doesn’t ask me to leave. His eyes don’t swerve from mine. “I love you.” A low huskiness threads his words.
- What’s on your Summer 2015 to-be-read list?
My most anticipated 2015 read isn’t coming out in Summer. I’m dyyyyyying to read Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On (out in October). Fangirl isn’t marketed as New Adult but pshaw, it totally is, and is my favorite and I need Simon and Baz’s story like I need air. Other than that, I’m a fickle and impulsive reader so predicting what I’ll read months from now is too hard, Rhea. I play Russian Roulette with my Kindle…buy lots and then always a varied choice depending on my mood.
Thank you so much for hosting me!!! And thank you for reading/reviewing the Off the Map series. So appreciated ❤
Blogger’s Note: Are you frikkin’ kidding me, Lia Riley? I’m debating keeping you here in my blog’s “cyber space” and never, ever letting you go 🙂
A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound pretty sweet.