Earth Girl - Janet Edwards
Published: August 16th, 2012
Source: Borrowed ARC
Synopsis: A sensational YA science fiction debut from an exciting new British author. Jarra is stuck on Earth while the rest of humanity portals around the universe. But can she prove to the norms that she’s more than just an Earth Girl?
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.
And okay, maybe she is a bit of a Mary Sue with her mad skillz and talent at everything she puts her mind to, but her personality is flawed so I think it balances out. And her personality flaws are realistic - I can easily understand her anger and frustration when the rest of the galaxy sees her as handicapped.
P.S. I am very surprised that there's a sequel, but I'll get it and see what it's like. Also, warning, there are quite few rude jokes. Nothing graphic though, and the futuristic slang helps disguise it. And okay, the creationism bit was stupid (when is creationism ever not?) but it was only one line, ignore it. I wish I had time to go into detail on the world-building and colonising other planets. Just trust me, it's fab.
"My immune system can't survive anywhere other than Earth. I'm in prison, and it's a life sentence." - Pretty good summary of Jarra's feelings.
''We were adults, we were free, and we were scared.'' - Ooh, soundbite. Coming of age, duh.