Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
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.
Jarra is bright and brave, and leaves behind an easy life to prove that she’s not truly handicapped. Her off world classmates are a variety of vibrant characters. Their interactions were engaging and brought life to the story. And Jarra’s relationship with Fian brings a bit of a romance angle as well.
This is a truly remarkable science fiction debut. It may be marketed to young adults, but like many other “YA” novels, adults will enjoy just as much. This is a true space opera – though much of Jarra’s adventures take her back to Earth as well. The drama, adventure, and character development made this novel impossible to put down. Jarra is a fascinating character whose world view is completely changed by her experiences, taking her to the brink emotionally. And Jarra makes an unforgettable impact on her classmates as well. I highly recommend this fantastic science fiction novel. Earth Girl will certainly be on my list of favorites this year.