Edward’s debut novel Earth Girl shines; it’s a refreshing and often humorous sci-fi YA about normalcy, being the odd one out, discovery, and second chances.
From the sassy voice of the first page to the sweet tones of the last line, this book had me smiling. (I also gripped the book at times, cried out warnings no one would hear, and fought back tears).
Edwards transports us to a future where “apes” (those resigned to Earth because they will literally die if they attempt any other intergalactic environment) and “exos” (those who fled in the great exodus from Earth to better planets and who travel at will) make up the hierarchy of the human race and Jarra (the voice of our story) decides to fool the ones who live beyond the stars by sneaking into their circles on her home turf and humiliating them, thereby dispensing her anger at the injustice of her place, proving her worth to herself, and then resuming the life all apes have to forebear quietly, and without further incident.
Nothing goes according to plan. Yes, Jarra successfully infiltrates a university class that only “the normal ones” would dream of attending; she manufacturers a background and identity out of whole cloth and dupes everyone into believing it’s real—even herself, after a time; and despite her “ape” status, she swiftly becomes the top of the class.
However, all her life, Jarra has been exposed to a collective sense of what exos are like, what they feel, and how they treat the lesser species of humanity. No one in her class fits this mold, much to her chagrin. How can she retaliate against people who don’t appear to deserve it, and who against all odds have become her friends? So the perfect plan begins to unravel as the heart of her sweet revenge is fractured.
Then there’s Fian, the boy who gently carves out a place in her life; the way their relationship develops highlights the “sweet” in this sweet romance.
As the line between reality and lies blurs, a series of events flips the switch in Jarra’s world and she becomes someone quite different to the girl who started out on her crazy scheme. Will she recover herself in time, or will her house of straws built on illusions finally come crashing down?
I only had one problem with the book, and I’m not 100% sure it’s valid, but I was bothered by the premise that “exos” and “apes” alike were raised in environments specifically lacking certain “inhospitable” qualities and yet could coexist without any problem whatsoever. I would have expected sudden exposure to radical environments (with which immune systems had no chance to adapt) to result in illness.
Regardless, I adored Earth Girl. It’s a book I will definitely read again. It gave me comfort on bad days, offered something to look forward to at the end of long ones, and left me with a lot to percolate on, in an easygoing, entertaining way.