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.
This was a great, fast paced story with engaging characters who kept me reading, wanting to know what would happen next. I loved the world building of this series – a crumbling Earth that is only inhabited full time by those who have no way to leave without dying. A universe full of other worlds and cultures with a clever system of travel interconnecting everything.
Jarra herself was a likeable lead character, she didn’t let her disadvantages phase her although she did have a chip on her shoulder about them. Despite this she was engaging and you really want to see her succeed – even when her decisions are frustrating (she makes some very bad ones) and you want to shout at her.
It was a clever set up – Earth was at once both familiar and strangely foreign. The archaeology class Jarra is part of are exploring old Earth cities and buildings that are familiar to us as the reader but have in Jarra’s time fallen into ruin. It gave plenty of scope for great action sequences as well.
All in all a fun read and I’ll definitely be reading the next in the series.
Earth Girl is available now.