3.5 starsAs I was reading Inside by Brenda Novak, I couldn’t help feeling angry and disdainful. I really didn’t like the characters and I rolled my eyes at some of the situations the main character Peyton Adams found herself in. But something happened on the way to writing this review. The more I thought about the book, the more I liked it.Inside is an eye-opening commentary on life in an over-crowded prison population, a place that is scarier than anything I’ve ever read before. Initially, I was repulsed by the subject matter. It felt so real: the lawlessness, the lack of hope, the corruption, and the gangs. The writing is compelling, well-paced. I was glued to this book.In Inside, an ex-con who had been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated has made a deal to be placed inside a prison to bring down the gang members of Hell’s Fury. Virgil Skinner has been hardened by years in prison. Skinner is a character that the reader can be emotionally invested in, despite his unfortunate background.Peyton Adams the Chief Deputy Warden, is in charge of Skinner’s case. She takes a special interest in his safety and is keeping an eye on him. There is an attraction between Peyton and Skinner and this is where I had my problem with this book. A relationship between a prison warden and an inmate sent to infiltrate a gang just didn’t sit right with me. First of all, Skinner’s situation seemed hopeless. The inappropriateness of their relationship bothered me too. But continue reading. The story gets exciting very fast.Aside from my reservations about the main characters, the plot was compelling. Something made me keep reading. Virgil’s mission was almost suicidal. It didn’t look like there would be a good outcome. The gang members were vicious, with no regard for human life. Peyton’s coworkers gave new meaning to corruption and betrayal. All in all, Inside is an exciting edge-of-your-seat kind of read. I’m looking forward to the next book In Seconds.