Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
Series: Earth Girl #1
Genre: Sci-fi
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2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-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 makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they’ve been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn’t expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

The fact was recited to me regularly. I was normal. I wasn't to think of myself as a reject. I was to value myself. All the irritating repetition achieved was to make me briefly try fantasizing about being born six hundred years ago. Then I remembered all the wars and famines in pre-history, decided I preferred modern civilisation, and went back to fantasizing about strangling Wallam-Crane.

This book is amazing! From first page to last, it was so much fun!

Okay, first, I love Jarra. She's stubborn and kind of prickly. She is 'Handicapped,' an 'ape,' a 'throwback,' a 'nean.' If she leaves Earth's atmosphere, she will go into anaphylaxis and die. A small percentage of the entire population of the universe is born this way, and no one knows why. It is slightly hereditary because having Handicapped parents increase the chances of the child being Handicapped - but it's no guarantee either way. What's even worse is that, to the rest of the universe, Handicapped people are less. Less human. Less intelligent. Worth less.

Well, Jarra doesn't want to take her fate lying down. She wants to prove that, even though she's Handicapped, she's just like everyone else - even smarter, in fact. And she is a very intelligent girl. She's driven and determined and gutsy. And did I mention stubborn?

What's even more amazing is that I liked the rest of the characters, too. Much like Jarra, I formed some knee-jerk opinions on the rest of the class. I totally don't mind admitting that they grew on me. Each character was different - and they didn't always get along - but they formed a wonderful team and were there for each other when things counted the most.

A good portion of the people were from different sectors. They each contain some planets and each sector has their own generalities when it comes to culture and personality. For example, the Beta sector is known for being rather promiscuous while the Gamma sector is kind of the sector that wants everyone to be comfortable and get along.

The world building is awesome. I don't want to spoil it, so there's not a lot I can say. 

Usually when I read books, speculative fiction that is pretty far removed from our modern society, I get hit with a couple moments of 'that could never happen.' Some books do it to me none stop. However, the world building of this book is so complete and well thought out that - once you accept portal travel (and considering I often read about faster than light travel, that was no problem) and the fact that one out of a thousand people have to stay on earth (why not?) - there is absolutely no moment of 'that doesn't make sense.' Ever.

There was a bit of a learning curve for me early on in the book because not only did I have to get used to the future slang, I'm pretty sure some of it was fairly current British slang. (And the rest of it seemed to be based on modern British slang.) Which was so nice to see - and this is yet another YA sci-fi book that acknowledges that North America is not the 'be all, end all.' There are still *gasp* other countries and continents in this future!

The only real issue there is that I don't know if the cast is diverse. I mean, skin tone was never mentioned - at least, I don't think it was - and only one of the characters had what was probably an ethnic name. (Keon, which was probably based on the Japanese name of Kyon. Or, now that I type it out, Keon could possible be a Korean name, I think.)