It’s the year 2788. Through space exploration and terraforming, other worlds now have become home for many humans. Freedom to travel (“portal”) from one world to another within a cluster of settled planets, each with its own culture and distinctive life styles, have caused prejudices that are hard to overcome. For those living on Earth, it has become a world that exists for only two reasons. One is to study our past history in search of knowledge lost during wars, the Exodus, and solar storms that wiped out thousands of databases. The second is as home to those who are handicapped.
Jarra’s eighteenth year is coming up, she has just completed school and is looking forward to entering college to become an archeologist studying pre-history. Jarra, an Earthling, is one of the handicapped. She is what off-worlders call an “ape,” a throw-back. Because of her faulty immune system, leaving Earth would be a death sentence. Over the years, vids have been a window into other worlds and their inhabitants. She has learned the hard way that many “exos,” those who exited Earth for other worlds, see the handicapped as lesser beings. In turn Jarra has set up defensive walls and has difficulty overcoming her hard feelings towards the off-worlders when she has to interact with them.
Since she was eleven Jarra has worked on excavation digs, crumbling ruins of cities left behind hundreds of years ago. She has gained much knowledge and skills needed to excavate artifacts of old Earth, its history, environment , the ruins left behind. It will be sorely needed in the months to come. Jarra is tough, smart and wants to prove that she, an “ape”, is just as good as those who can move freely from one planet to another. Living and working side by side with a group of “exos” shows Jarra that seeing only one side of a person doesn’t tell the whole story. This dystopian world has friendship, romance, interplanetary exploration, action and adventure all wrapped up in a burlap sack of tolerance towards others.
Earth Girl gives us some background for this dystopian world and a smattering of what it might be like to search out and live on other worlds. It’s a coming of age sci-fi tale with characters that can get under your skin and make you wonder what you would do in a particular situation. It is an older teen book with some sexual content, not graphic, and verbal abuse, name calling mostly. Conflicts don’t just completely go away but you can see how changes might take place. There is some repetitiveness in the story but it captures teen viewpoints well and points out adults can learn, too, if they take time to talk with teens. All in all a good read for older teens and some adults.
This is the first in a trilogy, followed up by Earth Star and Earth Flight.
The author, Janet Edwards, has written several short stories about the characters in the books that you might also want to read. They are all free at her website.
Formats Available: Book (Regular Type), eBook
Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch