Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (16 Aug 2012)
"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.
I usually don't read YA novels. It's not because I am opinionated about them (I hope I'm not), it's simply because there are too many books to read and I end up being picky about what book I choose from the tall pile standing in my study (or from the virtual pile of e-books). However, if I have, in my hands, a book by an author whom I'm not familiar with, I quickly read a chapter or two to get a feel for her style and her story.
Earth Girl is told in the first person, through the eyes of Jarra, its teenage protagonist. It's late 28th century and portal technology has been around for more than six centuries. Since mankind stepped onto another planet a century after the discovery of the technology, babies incapable of supporting interplanetary portal travel have been condemned to live on earth abandoned by their parents. They are considered handicapped and labelled as "ape"s because of their genetic differences. By the 28th century, this makes Earth a planet nobody cares about and inhabited by people who cannot do otherwise.
This gives the author a very good way of introducing the setting to the reader. Because people are uninterested to know about life on Earth and the conditions of its inhabitants, the fact that Jarra goes through some of the details of life on Earth becomes natural. She even makes the reader feel guilty of not knowing such details.
All Jarra wants is to feel normal and travel to any planet just like the "norm"s (or "exo"s) do. As she is of age to decide what she's going to study at university, she tells her ProMum about her plan to take a course run by an off-world university.
Even though I've only read a couple of pages, Earth Girl strikes me as a book that I would like to read more. I simply would like to hear more about Jarra. I also think that Janet Edwards created a very interesting setting which contributes to my curiosity.