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A stagnant story throughout
on 9 September 2013
Earth Star begins straight after the events of Earth Girl with Jarra being awarded the Artemis, the highest military honour, for her self-sacrificing help during a military rescue. Jarra is an 'ape', 'handicapped' because she cannot portal to other planets in the universe like the rest of the 'norms'. She is confined to Earth and many 'norms' are prejudiced against 'apes', believing them to be stupid and inferior. Jarra proved in Earth Girl that the handicapped are just as capable as norms but even though she's reached her own goals, things haven't settled down. A mysterious sphere has appeared in the Earth's atmosphere and it's intentions are unknown. It is clearly something alien, but whether hostile or friendly, noone knows. Jarra and her 'twoing' partner (i.e. boyfriend) Fian have been drafted into the military to use their knowledge of history to try and figure out where this sphere has come from, who sent it and what it wants but things aren't plain sailing because of Jarra's 'ape' status.
I was hoping that after the immense amount of time and detail dedicated to setting up this series in book one, that book two would have a much faster plot with a lot more things going on; however, this was not the case. An alien sphere is introduced at the beginning of the story and I expected many exciting things to happen but by the end of the book we still hadn't really found out anything about the sphere which was disappointing. Like in Earth Girl, there is a sort of continuous plot strand throughout the book but it moves at a steady, slow pace with no dips or bumps along the way. Small events were described in masses of detail that was really unnecessary, whilst major events were merely glanced over. The plot had much potential but unfortunately I don't think it really fulfilled it and I can't help but feel that this story could've been told with half the amount of the words.
Fian and Jarra's relationship doesn't particularly develop at all in Earth Star. The pair signed up for a 'twoing' contract in Earth Girl so I expected more romance in Earth Star, but really the pair just acted like an old married couple and I really fail to see the 'spark' in their relationship. I still don't really identify with the main character, Jarra, because her personality is hidden behind the fact that she doesn't 'do' emotions, but consequently this meant that I couldn't see in her what all the characters in the book could. Her narrative is quite interesting, but I don't particularly like her as a character or a narrator so I felt a little detached whilst reading this. Jarra was a lot sassier in Earth Girl and I quite enjoyed her snarky bitterness, but I don't think that part of her personality came with her to Earth Star which was a great shame.
The general setting of the book and the universe that these events take place in is fascinating. Janet Edwards has created a completely new world that still has some vague similarities to Earth as we know it, but there are also many differences. A great deal of detail is spent describing the planets, their customs, the tools that are being used, the different social rankings etc. which is all very interesting to read and learn about. Although portalling between planets isn't something new to the sci-fi genre, having 'handicapped' characters who are tied to planet Earth, is. In addition, these characters communicate with a whole new language and I felt a lot like an old lady trying to understand teenage slang when I first started reading this but by the end of this book I was basically fluent in it. I really love the world that Janet Edwards has created for Jarra and all the other characters and the framework that supports this novel is soso good, but unfortunately the plot let the book down.
Although you don't need to read Earth Girl to understand what's going on in Earth Star, I would certainly recommend it. Earth Girl sets up the backdrop for this series with lots of details about the new universe that Janet Edwards has created and there's a lot of new terms which you have to get to grips with in order to understand how the characters speak and act. Any references made to people or events from Earth Girl are thoroughly explained in Earth Star which does slow down the book considerably for those that have already read the first book, but if you're diving in at book two then this will do you fine.
All in all, Earth Star was a bit of a disappointment but it's still a fairly intriguing read. The world that Janet Edwards has created is absolutely superb and I've spent so much time reading her two books over the last few days that I've even adopted some of the new language used in her book, e.g. nardlebrain, but I don't think there's enough of a plot to really bring this world to life. I still have high hopes for the third book in this series which I'm praying will have a plot with a much faster pace with a lot more excitement but we'll just have to wait and see!