18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original fast paced sci-fi for teens (or adults!)
Earth Girl is Janet Edwards debut novel. If I hadn't read that in the publisher's blurb, I certainly wouldn't have realised. It's polished fiction, with a confident pace that keeps the reader hooked, and critically for sci-fi, she built the essence of an original setting in the first few pages, in a way that implied that there was much more depth and content to...
Published on 25 April 2012 by S. Diment
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What an irritating heroine!
Earth Girls sounds like such a brilliant concept, and it was, but it had some pretty major flaws.
I was excited to read a book set so far in the future, 2788, where Earth is only inhabited by "the handicapped" or "apes" as they're more often called. The handicapped are infact humans who do not possess the immune system to survive on other...
Published 23 months ago by N. J. H.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original fast paced sci-fi for teens (or adults!),
Earth Girl is Janet Edwards debut novel. If I hadn't read that in the publisher's blurb, I certainly wouldn't have realised. It's polished fiction, with a confident pace that keeps the reader hooked, and critically for sci-fi, she built the essence of an original setting in the first few pages, in a way that implied that there was much more depth and content to come.
Jarra is an eighteen year old, living on earth in the year 2788. She and her friends are about to go to university. Earth colonised other planets some four hundred years ago, and the majority of humans now live on one or other of the colony worlds. Unfortunately, Jarra and her friends are labelled "handicapped", because they are some of a small proportion of humanity who can't travel to other colonies. If they do, they suffer a mysterious allergic reaction, as their immune system can't cope, and unless they return to earth immediately via the nearest space portal, they die. Earth has become famous for three things, hospitals (as medical technology trying to overcome the handicap has been a focus), history (as the planet where all humans originated, with the oldest pre-historic archaelogical sites) and the handicapped - the triple H. Earth has become a dumping ground for unwanted handicapped babies, because parents on colony worlds can still have children who are born handicapped, and have to be transported to earth via an emergency space portal. Jarra and her friends are therefore orphans, brought up in residential schools and nurseries, with adoptive parents they share and see for only a couple of hours a week. Most of them have no contact with their real parents, and prejudice has grown up between the colonists and the handicapped on earth. Jarra is a rebellious girl, and plans to exact her own revenge on the colonists and their perceived prejudice against her and her friends, by fooling a group of them into thinking she is one of them.
Edwards describes all this in the first few pages, setting the scene for the story that follows. Jarra becomes a history student, excavating the ruins of New York City with a group of colonist students who think she is the daughter of a military couple, and therefore one of the many varieties of colonist like themselves. Edwards thus picks a setting guaranteed to help her book appeal to an American audience. It also adds a deeper level of meaning, as the students excavate skyscraper ruins using heavy lifting gear and wearing impact suits, in scenes reminiscent of Lower Manhattan after 9/11. It's an evocative setting for a book where the main theme is prejudice, and the differences between people from many different worlds. It's also dangerous work, as collapsing buildings are a constant threat, so Jarra is soon at risk, and forced to trust some of her fellow students, despite her prejudice. At this point the pace of the novel picks up, and events soon start to spiral out of Jarra's control. By this time the reader is hooked, and the book becomes very hard to put down. It's a great story, with a central character who is enough of a heroine to appeal to both male and female readers, and some interesting characters amongst the other students as well. The ending concludes the book nicely, without being either too drawn out, or too much of a surprise. The other bonus is that this is a stand alone book, and doesn't leave you hanging waiting for the sequel, although the author could easily choose to write another novel set in the world she has created, perhaps on one of the new colonies. Overall, it's a great piece of teen sci-fi, worthy of being read by adults too. This is debut fiction at it's rare best - if her first novel is this good, I can't wait to read whatever she writes next.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stuck on Earth and considered a 'throw back',
I would categorise Earth Girl under the umbrella term Speculative fiction. In essence this book straddles both young adult and adult science fiction. The setting of this novel or `mise-en-scene' is the concept that Earth is no longer our primary location by 2788 peoples of Earth have moved off world and now live across the Cosmos. The author Ms Edwards creates and develops a really creative new social order and historical pretext for our society to grow within. I rather liked learning about the different planets and what each one was known for. That said, the majority of the novel takes place on Earth.
This book had emphasis on a continued history throughout. We get a picture through a steady exposure to what has happened from the present day - the year 2788. We look back through years and learn what humanity did wrong. This is an interesting outlook of looking back on things that haven't happened yet, might be just the thing needed to keep us from making some horrible mistakes in our future?
Our heroine Jarra is born off world, but her parents have abandon her on Earth, because she can only survive on the `home world', as her immune system cannot cope on other worlds. Jarra is not alone there other abounded children/people who live on Earth, they are considered by the rest of Humanity as throw backs or `apes'. Jarra is angry and believes she is good as these off world people and decides to pretend to be one of them and joins a historical dig in what was once New York City, here in the problems begins for our protagonist.
In addition to the history, Earth Girl' is a complex narrative and unique plot is fascinating. Especially if you consider when we see Jarra change, devolve and evolve as the story progresses. This novel has some unique and interesting ideas worth exploring. However, for me the character development wasn't as thorough as it could have been.
5.0 out of 5 stars Teen Isaac Asimov,
I really didn't know much about this book when I started reading it, so I was quite surprised when I found it wasn't like every other teen sci-fi book being published at the moment. I would describe it as a younger, faster-paced version of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (with the addition of female characters). Much of the book is cerebral history/archaeology and explanations of how the world of the book - particularly portal technology - came about. However, it also includes a lot of action and heroics on the part of the main character, Jarra. The military aspect smacked of Battlestar Galactica.
I loved this book because it was so different from most teen sci-fi. For one thing, it's not a dystopia (although I love dystopias, I'm getting sick of how writers are using them just to provide an obstacle to the main characters' eternal love, like they're all working from the same outline as Hunger Games, but without any effort being put into the actual science fiction). I liked how the author utilized the first-person narrative for something other than immediacy - which you'll notice about half-way through the book. I liked that it is heavy on the sci-fi and action, and not so heavy on romance. Who doesn't love a school-based book about someone who's better than everyone else without trying, who produces impressed and surprised looks in everyone she encounters, from her prof to a military colonel?
The romance aspect of this book is actually the one place where I'd say the author could have been more original. I think if she'd gone another direction, it could have taken the story from "intriguing" to "epic." Jarra loves the looks of an actor called "Arrack San Domex" - specifically, his butt. Jarra has self-esteem issues because there is much contempt for people who can't portal off-world without dying. In her university history class is a boy called Fian who looks just like her favourite actor, and she is quite taken by his behind. Here is a guy whose attention proves she's just as good as the "norms!" Unfortunately, Fian is an exceptionally boring character. You could take him out of the story entirely (or at least as a love interest), and very little would need to be changed to make the plot work. He seems to be drawn to her because he hasn't any personality himself, and she's got enough for two.
This may be a slight spoiler, but eventually Fian does find out Jarra is "handicapped." This is in a universe where the common procedure following the birth of a "handicapped" baby is for the parents to abandon the baby, divorce, and change their identities. A world where people will disown family members who produce a "handicapped" baby. The handicapped cannot vote and are not represented in Parliament. If Fian sticks with Jarra, he will have to live on Earth with her (which would limit his career path), he'll be a social pariah, he'll risk losing his family, and he'll have a much greater likelihood of having handicapped children of his own.
Fian takes approximately 15 seconds to overcome a lifetime of ingrained prejudice and decide he'll give up everything to stay with Jarra. This is not particularly romantic because he's only known her for maybe a couple of months, during which time they've barely talked and don't actually know much about each other. It's a very unrealistic and idealized relationship, and very boring. Clearly Jarra is interested in him because of his Arrack San Domex butt and his "norm" status. It would have been more meaningful if Jarra realized at some point that she didn't need a "norm" guy to prove her worth, and got rid of him. Being unalterably committed to the first guy she's ever really liked? Boring, boring, boring, especially when he's such a boring guy.
I was actually hoping she and her prof, Lecturer Playdon, would develop something (he's only supposed to be about 30). Even if Jarra were initially attracted to Fian because he was the poster boy for normalcy, once she settled that one with her subconscious, it would have been much more interesting if it were Playdon she ended up having some kind of relationship with. Even if it were only Playdon who liked her, but didn't do anything about it, it would have been way more interesting.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Earth Girl,
I've just finished reading Earth Girl and I quite enjoyed it. I found it hard to get into at first and I think this was partly to do with some of the language differences such as 'zan' and 'amaz' but I am a firm believer of sticking it out until at least the third chapter before making my mind up and I'm glad I did as the book had sucked me in by that point.
The book as you will probably gather from the other reviews is set in the future where most humans now live off world on other planets and where the majority of humans remaining on the planet only do so as they are 'handicapped' and can't use the portals to travel off world because of something in their bodies preventing them from doing so. No cure has been found to this 'handicap' and many parents will abandon their children to be looked after by institutions on earth when they find out their child is 'handicapped'.
Our main character Jarra is one such 'handicapped' child who decides to infiltrate an off world university course based on earth about history in the guise that she is just like them (able to portal) and then in a big show reveal that she is in fact one of the 'handicapped'. Jarra is so angry with 'normal' people that she believe's by taking part in this big masquerade she will manage to teach all the normal children some big lesson but as with most things in life not everything goes to plan.
I enjoyed this book and the author has really gone into depth about the future and what it will be like and more interestingly how they may be looking back at history and how they will perceive it when they do. Add to the history and future elements a good storyline and a rescue situation it was a really enjoyable read, I certainly wouldn't have guessed it was the author's debut book without being told - I'll have to keep an eye out for future books.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Promisng first work. A real joy to read,
You know how you can be glad you acted on a whim. That and an excellent review by another Vine reviewer drew me to this first book by Janet Edwards.
Set in the year 2788 on Earth in an era when most of Humanity has made it to the stars by means of portals; first originality I liked, these portals have been invented by Humanity itself and not found left behind by someone mysterious race, that's different! This has come with a price there are those who because of a genetic defect cannot survive arrival on the alien worlds. When a baby is born on another world with this defect they are packed off quickly to Earth to be brought up in effective but benevolent orphanages. For those consigned to Earth the politically correct term is `Handicapped', the common term of abuse `apes', although to be fair to Humanity in this particular future the administrations or governments are fairly benign allowing these folk a lot of leeway upon Earth, where one of the main activities is archaeology, of what is termed `Pre-History', before the great Exodus from Earth through the portals.
It is to this profession that Jarra the hero and narrator of the book is drawn. She is a determined, intelligent and very driven 18 year old, who intending to get the best education and prove she is as good as `exos' (a `Handicapped' term of abuse for those from other worlds-derived from Exodus) masquerades as an `exo; by fabricating a family history of The Military, whose personnel are basically involved in scouting new and often hostile worlds.
Against this backdrop Janet Edwards weaves a tale of one young person's personal journey through the dangers of ancient parts of New York which might collapse at any moment and the tangles of keeping up a façade. The varieties of human cultures which have evolved are skilfully portrayed through the comments, habits and social mores of the various members of the Jarra's class. There is another good device to explain the history and method of progress of colonisation, by having Jarra's lecturer have her explain the role of the Military to the class; this has two layers because he knows her true background but legally and morally cannot reveal this to the class and so is his own means of testing her character.
Thus this is not one theme of a person battling against a dystopian regime or in a struggle against villains bent on domination or destruction. It says much for Janet Edwards' talent than she makes what is essential an account of a very testing and practical-heavy college course entertaining and absorbing, with details of the hows and whys the excavating is done and the spells of physical dangers which arise. Jarra being the hero is adapt and a born survivor, but in case you might think just another `Alpha' female she is very vulnerable. At one stage you are suddenly noticing she has started talking as if she was genuinely military; sparked by finding out her biological parents are actually Military Personnel. This continues to the extent she has 'buried' her true personnel history and only a series of traumatic incidents shakes her back to reality; very well handled piece of writing it is too.
Despite of the many challenges Jarra does win through, and you are felt, yes she worked hard at this, the young woman deserves her rewards.
Romance does arise with the likeable and quite gallant Fian hailing from a quite strict culture; there are ups and downs but in keeping with the theme of this tale love prevails. Yes folks sex does turn up (they're 18- 20 years olds for Pity's sake!), but this is all very discreet and reveals some more fascinating cultural and legalistic developments to deal with temporary relationships.
Categorically speaking Amazon called this a work for`Children'. Please do not be put off by this, yes Janet Edwards has opted for a restrained and low-key style to tell her tale, but the narrative is easy to follow, the future she has created is believable and speaking as an SF reader of 50 years a very entertaining one to read about.
So much backdrop was created in this tale that this book begs for more tales about Jarra, or maybe the world(s) of her future.
Thanks Janet Edwards for an enjoyable read and all the best in the future.
4.0 out of 5 stars New and enjoyable,
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This review is from: Earth Girl (Kindle Edition)
This was completely refreshing for me and have no similar book to compare it to. I was hooked from the start and devoured it. It's an easy read with a main character you can relate to - who hasn't gone through some form of prejudice in their life? I really enjoyed the portal concept behind the book and the idea of different sectors and planets.
The only criticism I have is that I found the slang from the younger characters ('blizz', 'amaz' etc) slightly annoying but this might just be because I'm getting older!
Looking forward to reading Earth Star!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Read for a Debut Novel.,
Jerra is 18 and both she and her friends live on Earth on the year 2788, they are handicapped in a way that stops them from leaving Earth because they can not live off world like their real family's do. As soon as Jerra and the same for her friends were born they are sent through a portal to Earth or they would have died, they suffer a mysterious allergic reaction and their immune system does not work like other off world colonists.
They are brought up as orphans, and live in residential schools and nurseries. They have what you call adoptive parents that they get a few hours a week with, which are suppose to help Jerra in any way she needs.
Jerra's friends have all chosen their colleges & courses but Jerra is dragging her heels, but finally makes her decision and gets help from her adoptive Mother in getting the course she wants. Which is a course on Earth for off world Students, she wants them to think she is one of them.
The story is well written & keeps you hooked from beginning to end, the twists & turns & excitement and emotional levels, keep you engrossed from beginning to end. Love the fact the Author finishes the story completely, so is a stand alone novel.
Cant wait to read more from the Author.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging sci-fi debut,
They call her ape, nean, barely human or if they're being polite, handicapped. In reality, Jarra simply has an immune system that can't survive off-world. She is one in a thousand. When she was born she was shipped off to earth to be brought up among others of her kind. When she reaches 18, she makes the decision to pass as an exo, applying for a pre-history course run by the planet Asgard. The practical nature of pre-history means that she will never have to step off planet earth but will her classmates find out what she is before she's had her chance to prove a point?
Earth Girl is a proper science fiction novel for the young adult market. Set in 2788, most humans now live on colonised planets, travelling between them via portals. After what has become known as the exodus, earth cities were abandoned and began to decay and collapse. Unfortunately, someone didn't take care of their back-ups (good morality tale here) and vast amounts of data, including news and research was lost. Hence the need for the archaeological sites of the future and students like Jarra, moving dangerous rubble to unearth the secrets of the past. I loved that day to day items from now were suddenly seen as historically important items when they were uncovered. There is a lot of detail of their archaeological excavations and I do wonder if this might put some younger readers off. Jarra's obsession with history gives a great vehicle to world build and provides back-story whilst keeping within the plot.
Of course, there is some sort of relationship stuff going on during this but it plays second fiddle to the story of the earth. The world very much has a non sex (or anything) before marriage agenda and this seems to be adhered to by the characters. Even on planets that have different intimacy laws, they still all seem to go through a twoing ceremony first. There's a section where Jarra has some sort of post-traumatic stress episode that I wasn't quite convinced by, especially as she turned into a rather giggly girl during it.
There was one sentence that threw me off a bit. It's only mentioned in passing, but apparently they have proof that the universe was created by a deity. It seems really out of place in a science fiction novel where everything should explained by science and most of humanity are now living on different planets. If the book went a bit further to explain this miraculous proof, then fine, that's partly what science fiction allows us to do, but no, it's just left hanging. It's especially odd coming from a British author as we're pretty much on the side of evolution over here, even if you do believe in god. With that and the whole celibacy thing, I was expecting some religious dogma to be thrust at me at any moment... fortunately it never happened. Though now I'm left thinking what on earth could this proof be?
Overall it's an utterly believable world with engaging characters and a dash of humour. A great debut from Janet Edwards and I look forward to reading more from her in future (though sooner than 2788, I hope).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Earth Girl,
Set over 700 years in the future Earth is now a very different place. Thanks to the use of portals to travel great distances in a short time period humanity now inhabits hundreds of planets across space. Main character Jarra is handicapped by an immune system that doesn't allow her to leave Earth. Those who are handicapped are often called apes or throwbacks and treated as second class citizens by off worlders who can travel between planets. Jarra has faced prejudice all of her life but she is determined to get her own back by convincing a class of university students that she is one of them. Signing up for a course with an off world university would be impossible if Jarra didn't want to study history. All history courses spend the first year on Earth studying archaeology at the famous New York dig site.
Earth was practically abandoned when humanity first started inhabiting other planets and is now mainly used for hospitals to research the immune system handicap, orphanages to raise the handicapped children and historical dig sites. Much of our history has been lost and it is up to the historians to carry out the dangerous work of digging through the rubble looking for missing information. Jarra has always been fascinated by history and has spent as much time as she could on the Earth dig sites so heading to New York main is like a dream come true. But can Jarra keep up her deception amongst her class mates and make them believe that she is really a military kid rather than handicapped and Earth bound? What would happen if they uncovered her secret?
I was very impressed with Janet Edwards' debut novel, she has created a detailed and believable future where humanity is spread across the universe thanks to the portal technology they have created. Each of the planetary systems have very different customs and behaviours and the author shows all kinds of prejudice amongst the students in Jarra's class. As much as Jarra has been looked down on by off worlders she is actually just as prejudiced as they are but her beliefs are challenged as she gets to know her classmates. I really liked Jarra's character, she was strong and determined to prove herself as good as any off worlder, you could understand why she felt resentment to those who looked down on her because of something that she had no control over. I did find it a little unbelievable when she suddenly started to confuse fact with fiction, I get why the author did it but it seemed to be glossed into quite quickly and then resolved a bit too easily at the end. I would have liked there to have been a bit more of an explanation and to have had Jarra talk more about why it happened.
Overall Earth Girl is a highly enjoyable novel though and one I would recommend to science fiction fans. What I liked most is the fact that the story is completely resolved by the end of the book so you aren't left on any kind of cliff hanger. Due to the depth of the world created there is plenty of scope for the author to write spin off stories either with the same characters or just in this version of the future but we won't be left hanging if she doesn't decide to turn it into a series. I'm looking forward to seeing what Janet Edwards comes up with next though, with this as her debut I'm sure she has a very promising writing career ahead of her.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Debut! A Must Read!,
Earth Girl is one of those rare gems which you come across by luck, then when you read it, it completely blows you mind. It is a stunning debut novel which keeps the reader wanting more. Even when I'd finished this book it was still at the front of my mind. This doesn't happen to me often but when it does it really shows how good a book is. The story and plot were still reeling in my mind, I was analysing the events like I was there, it was brilliant. I can easily say that I loved this book. I would even go to the point to say that it is the best book I have read this year. It is that incredible.
Earth Girl follows Jarra who was born with an immune system that doesn't allow her to portal to other planets. She is one in a thousand, she is criticised for being an ape but she wont let this stop her. She will do anything to prove that she is just like everyone else. Once she turns 18 she decides to enroll in a university from another planet, instead of sticking to a normal Earth university. The history course she picks, takes place on Earth where all the old dig sites are. Jarra's the only one from Earth so she has to make a fake background for herself and hide her handicap. After meeting her new classmates she realises that Exos (People who live on other planets) aren't that bad. On one of her missions she's put in the spotlight making everyone aware of her skills, she can no longer hide. I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil this amazing book.
Jarra is an amazing heroine. She's smart, strong and very sarcastic. She's hilarious, and so down to earth. Shes the most realistic heroine I've probably ever read. I loved her, her character was strong and we watched her crumble and regrow. She grew into her own, finding her true self and realised that not everyone is the same as the stereotypes that are forced upon them. Fian, Jarra's love interest was also funny and smart. They had amazing chemistry and were perfect together. Fian's obsession with wanting Jarra to throw him across the room was hilarious. Playdon was a great tutor, he was serious but also allowed the class to have fun, he also accepted Jarra from the very beginning.
The book is set in 2788. Janet Edwards does a brilliant job of creating new technology and science, and a believable world. It was incredibly well done, there were no faults. It was brilliant, the portals and domes. The whole environment was amazing. The science wasn't too complicated, most people would be able to understand it. We got to see the two different sides of the world, Jarra's view from someone handicapped and her classmates view from exos. We easily saw the world in its true light and some conflicting elements that came from false information that is featured in each different sector. I would love to visit this world, just to explore it all. Edwards also did a good job describing the New York Dig Sites and all the ruins left behind from when people left earth. You could see some of the old world shining through.
The story was well woven together, and all loose threads were tied up in the end. The ending was very good and summed up all threads and gave us an idea of what would happen to Jarra and the gang next. Janet Edwards is a stunning debut author and she's definitely an author you need to look out for. I'm excited to see what she has to offer next. If your a fan of Dystopian novels then this is a must have. You should definitely buy this book.
Earth Girl is an incredibly well written novel with believeable characters and an intriguing plot. It's one of the best books I've read this year and one you all need to look out for when it releases in August.
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Earth Girl by Janet Edwards