"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

20 November 2012

Review: Earth Girl - Janet Edwards

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.
My Review of Earth Girl (5/5 stars):
This book just blew me away. Captivating, original and compelling, Earth Girl is an intelligent science fiction novel full of emotion and drama. I absolutely loved this book. I was instantly drawn into Jarra’s world, a futuristic and abandoned Earth inhabited only by those whose immune system cannot survive off world. Deemed an ape, Jarra embarks on a journey to prove a point to the exos (derogatory word for off planet inhabitants), that slowly becomes a journey of self-discovery, acceptance and equality in a seemingly unequal world.

The narrative was so fluid and the prose so realistic, as I was instantly transported into Jarra’s world, sharing in the excitement of the digs, sharing in her confusion and her infectious passion for history. Jarra’s narrative was so personal as if she was talking directly to the reader, creating an instant emotional attachment and strong bond. Despite the futuristic setting, technological and scientific advancements and the expansion of humanity to other worlds, the world still seemed realistic and relatable. The teenagers within the novel seemed like teenagers from our times, interested in fashion, music, television, celebrities, their appearance etc.

The story is full of on the edge of your seat, nail biting drama and it is also full of emotion. The story shocked and surprised me. I found myself getting all teary-eyed during the more emotive scenes in the novel. The story deals with loss, love and acceptance but it is also a kind of bildungsroman novel, where Jarra grows as a character as the story progresses. She comes to learn that things aren’t always as they seem, people are different than what she previously thought and she is much more than just an orphaned earth girl. Tension and problems arise when Jarra beings to realise that the exos are just human and not as bad as she previously thought resulting in her plan backfiring slightly and causing her to re-think her plan to shame and humiliate those around her.

The protagonist, Jarra was a wonderfully passionate character full of enthusiasm, confidence and determination. Intelligent and eager to learn, I loved her character despite being a little frustrated by her actions at times. Her passion for knowledge and history was inspirational as was her goals for life despite her ‘handicap’. She has to deal with so much both physical and emotional and I just loved her determination to carry on despite the obstacles that were thrown in her way. Her confidence and cockiness sometimes made her come across as a little arrogant and full of herself but I believe its just evidence of her passion, enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. She was a character that I could easily relate with and empathise with mainly because of her interest in history and her passion for the past was instantly infectious; I wanted to be her friend, listen to her historical facts and work with her on an ancient dig site.

My favourite part of the whole story was the archaeological and historical aspects of the novel. I absolutely adored the archaeology within the novel and found them the most interesting part by far. The uncovering of the past and the discovery of long forgotten buildings and items was so exciting and I loved seeing the work that went into unearthing such things as if they were rich treasures and gems. The rich detail was amazing and I loved hearing all of the things that went into exposing such hidden treasures. The dig site of New York city seemed almost otherworldly and magical as the team work in the ruined streets of the city, in the rubble of a world long forgotten, slowly crumbling to dust. I just loved the setting. The mixture of the past and the future mixed together was just fascinating and made the story jump out of the page, making a more realistic and relatable world.

The expansion of humanity throughout the galaxy and the foundation of numerous new planets was a fascinating aspect of the novel that I found inspiring. The idea of portals was so brilliant and exciting, with individuals being able to portal from place to place, planet to planet within seconds. I also loved the fact that Earth is described as uninhabitable because of its solar storms and extreme weather. I found this aspect amusing seeing as Earth is the mother planet of all the new colonised planets and it’s deemed as much of an ape as its inhabitants, with its history being deemed unimportant by some.

There is just one small thing that threw me off balance a bit and left me a little confused by what was happening. I can’t really say what happened without ruining most of the story but the change in the story and Jarra’s character just didn’t sit well with me and left me quite bewildered. As I slowly came to the realisation of what was going on I became aware of how much of a brilliant plot device it was despite it playing around with the reader a little. As readers we are left in the dark, in a similar situation to the other characters. I thought the whole plot device was evidence of great characterisation and a surprising, intriguing narrative.

I loved this book. It was so exciting; full of twists and turns that never failed to surprise me, interesting characters full of depth and realism and a plot that kept me turning each page in anticipation. The story was completely compelling and I loved the whole journey and experience and I can’t wait for the next book. 

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