Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
Release Date ~ August 16, 2012
Harper Voyager ~ HarperCollins Canada
ARC received from publisher for review
**Also published by Pyr (Prometheus Books) in March 2013
2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.
Jarra invents a fake background for herself – as a normal child of Military parents – and joins a class of norms that is on Earth to excavate the ruins of the old cities. When an ancient skyscraper collapses, burying another research team, Jarra’s role in their rescue puts her in the spotlight. No hiding at back of class now. To make life more complicated, she finds herself falling in love with one of her classmates – a norm from another planet. Somehow, she has to keep the deception going.
A freak solar storm strikes the atmosphere, and the class is ordered to portal off-world for safety – no problem for a real child of military parents, but fatal for Jarra. The storm is so bad that the crews of the orbiting solar arrays have to escape to planet below: the first landing from space in 600 years. And one is on collision course with their shelter.
The description for Earth Girl just SOUNDS so cool and science fiction-y. I love cool sci fi and I had heard a little buzz for this one so I was excited and decided to give it a try. When I finally did pick it up, I was curious enough and in the perfect mood for a good futuristic read but I wasn’t really sure what to expect either. It sounds a bit odd, right? I found the idea of the futuristic “handicapped” living on Earth to be interesting, but unfamiliar. So I was completely surprised when I was reading Earth Girl.
Earth Girls is noteworthy for its unique and moving storyline, a well-developed world full of its own history and culture that stands out, and a character so different from any others I’ve read before.
- Jarra is this daring, geeky sort of girl:
And because of that she’s totally relatable. She dares to try and move past her biological and societal limits – she challenges them and isn’t afraid too afraid to fail that it holds her back. She’s bitter at first, but understandably so. And that is a huge part of her transformation throughout the book. And I loved how geeky she was when it came to history! I feel the same way and have my own little geeky quirks when it comes to interests I am PASSIONATE about! (Like books! And politics! And the law! And history!)
- Suspenseful moments that’ll have your heart pounding:
These aren’t your typical sort of suspenseful moments with the good characters running from the bad guys. It’s done in the semi-mundane practice of research and archeology. And that made it better in a sense, because it made you aware of just how brave and passionate you have to be to do the type of work Jarra hopes to do as a historian. There’s nothing boring about this – it feels very real and exciting. And there is some crazy weather going on, which is scary but exciting in the way some of our real weather can be. And people die in familiar ways too. So for a world set so far in the distant future (hundreds of years past beyond us) it feels remarkably familiar.
- A real sense and thoughtful consideration of the importance of treating others well:
The very idea that only those “handicapped” live on Earth sounds weird. It’s a special immune system that means Jarra and her friends will literally die on any other planet – and this is in a world where that’s what everyone else is able to do. You get a very thoughtful insider’s perspective of what it means to be different from the norm, and treated inferior in many instances. I’ve never had any kind of a disability that held me back in any way, but I know what it feels like to stand out from the crowd and be unique. It isn’t always easy, and the way people act towards you can be extremely painful. And Earth Girl totally made me rethink how I perceive disabilities or unique traits (in a good way). I had to seriously reconsider whether that is such a bad thing, or whether it’s just different from me.
- A heartbreaking, moving tale:
I was rooting so hard for Jarra, and I desperately wanted the situation to be different. There are some incredible, life-changing discoveries made during the story and some of it works out well and some of it just falls apart. That pain Jarra felt was described so well that it was raw and truly resonated with me as a reader. I was in awe of how touching Jarra’s story was, and for this reason alone I’d recommend it to many, many readers.
Jarra’s development is remarkable, but at one point it struck me as very odd. I don’t want to spoil anything but I’ll just say that it was the one part of the book that didn’t work for me because of how it was presented. It felt a little too out of left field and bizarre, not that she would act in such a way, but the way it was written and included in the story failed to persuade me and suspend my disbelief. I love reading imaginary, creative stories but the authors needs to be able to convince me that they’re real within the book. Jarra’s actions towards the latter half of the novel stood out to me from the rest of it because it didn’t mesh as well with her character or the plot as everything else did. And it was such a pivotal moment that I can’t brush it off or ignore it.
But in light of the book as a whole, it is fairly minor and didn’t overly detract from my experience reading it. Earth Girl is still one of the most remarkable YA books I’ve read, and I thought it was very well done.