Earth Girl is young adult science fiction at its best, It is set in a completely believable future about 700 years from now. Most people have left Erth and scattered to other planets, thanks to “portals” which make travel nearly instantaneous, The only people who live on Earth are those who are born genetically unable to portal. Most of these were given up by their parents at birth and raised in a system of group homes. They are well-cared for, and it’s not a bad life, but they know they are different and limited.
These people are looked down upon by those who can portal, referred to as “Handicapped.” Jarra is one of the Handicapped.
Smart, brave, and defiant, Jarra wants to prove she is as good or better than anyone else. She manages to gain acceptance to a course which involves archaeological study of ancient New York, the first Earth student to do so, and creates an elaborate masquerade to hide her difference from her classmates,
All goes well until Jarra begins to really like those she has thought of as enemies and want her fantasy life to be real, Now what will she do?
What makes this book so special is the wealth of fascinating detail about this future, which, aside from prejudice between those who live off-world and those who cannot, is nearly Utopian. There is no war, poverty, or famine. Education is available to all, although career opportunities are limited for the Handicapped, who cannot, for instance, be military.
Every detail of the technology and social structure of Janna’s world is carefully thought out. The archaeology is fascinating, as is the blend of different cultures and beliefs among Jarra’s classmates from different planets and the details of her own upbringing. The reader will be interested and able to believe in this future.
The book may be too detailed and slow moving for some readers. The plot itself is not terribly original, and sometimes Jarra is just a little too good at everything. But the world building is phenomenal and reason enough to get this book. Most science fiction fans, young adult and older, will thoroughly enjoy this impressive debut novel.