Khanh the Killjoy

Earth Girl

Earth Girl - Janet  Edwards Actual rating: 4.5I started reading this book with less than stellar (I am completely incapable of writing a review without at least one bad pun) expectations.Really? I mean Earth Girl as a title? I know, prejudice against the title...Khanh, you stupid, immature little girl. I have my reasons, though. There have been few pieces of YA sci-fi fiction based on interplanetary plots that have been worth the time they took to read. The other reason was because the title brought to mind the kitschy movie Earth Girls are Easy, and so I just wanted to laugh at the title of this book.Despite my reservations, this book is so, so much better than I expected. I came in with a lot of terrible expectations about this book, I started reading Earth Girl just hoping for a good laugh at best, and truly expecting the worst. I told myself, hey, at least if the book turned out really badly, I could use that as an excuse to get a drink as I continued on. Or 5. There's a silver lining behind every cloud (that comes from the foil-wrapped seal of my preferred brand of liquor). I do kid, I'm not an alcoholic despite my multiple references to drinking, I swear. Really!Initially, it was a little jarring, as future slang and terminology and the history of the Earth and the colonies are thrown at us. Don't let the first few pages of the book turn you off, as it did for me. Our main character, Jarra, uses a lot of slang, a lot of her world's terminology, and it really can throw you off. Teenagers everywhere always have their own little popular vocabulary, and Jarra is no different, "Zan!" "Amaz!" "Nardle" etc, are thrown at us, and I admit to rolling my eyes so far back into my forehead after reading those phrases that I might have appeared possessed by an evil spirit to an unsuspecting bystander. The names also took quite a lot of getting used to, since they are not common names typically used today at all, but they are not vanity Mary Sue/Gary Stu names either. There is no Pagan, no Xander, no Destiny, no Nevaeh, none of that stupid shit here."My immune system can't survive anywhere other than Earth. I'm in prison, and it's a life sentence."Jarra was a wonderful character. She's so full of self-righteous anger, and who can blame her, really? She's an "ape," a slang for those who are unable to survive outside of the immediate environment of Earth, and thus like others of her kind, considered disabled. People with this condition are highly looked down upon, they're viewed as mentally incapable, weak, with poor mental capacity.To be crude, having a "nean" or an "ape" child in the future is like having a disabled child in the past, when we were so much less accepting of anything or anyone who is different. For the parents, it brings up all sorts of issues, there's blaming. Whose fault is it that their child is born an ape? Is it the mother's gene pool? The father's gene pool? Is it something that the mother does wrong during pregnancy? Did she travel somewhere and contract something? Did she eat a certain food (Karanth jelly)? There is blaming all around, and the result is not good. The majority of parents who end up having a child with this disorder end up divorced, and most choose to give up the child, who is then brought down to Earth, assigned a ProMum and ProDad for parenting duties a few hours every week, and generally forgotten.Jarra grows up in this environment and equipped with this knowledge. She is inferior. People don't say it to their face, but it is implied that she is weak, that she is stupid, that she is not worthy. She knows that her kind are called names, "nean" and "ape" being highly reprehensible slang for those with the disorder, akin to calling someone a r*t*rd or a f*g. Jarra is angry. She knows she is better than that. She herself is prejudiced against those who are normal. As she reaches college age, Jarra sets out to prove them wrong. She applies to study in a college course on earth with other humans, normal ones, from other planets.Her plan is a pretty immature one, but not uncommon and not out of character, considering the prejudice she has faced. She plans to infiltrate the group of foreign students, pose as one of them, albeit a Military kid, and at the end, after she has dazzled and fooled everyone with her disguise, Jarra pretty much plans to reveal the truth, point her finger at them and laugh. "Haw-haw!" Nelson Muntz-style. Ok, that last bit was my own addition, but you get the drift.Well, things don't exactly work out as planned. Jarra joins the course, her instructor is not allowed to tell anyone of her disabled status, but he is clearly prejudiced against her for it and goes out of his way to pick on her. The other characters from other sectors threw Jarra for a loop. They are not the people she set out to hate. They are normal. They are no different than her, with weaknesses, strengths, sensitivities, hurts, and Jarra begins to realize that she is wrong. As much as Jarra experiences discrimination, she realizes that she has been discriminatory too, that normal people are in fact, no better than worse than anyone else she has ever known.Her other classmates are lovely. Initially you can see Jarra start classifying them and stereoptying them into tropes. The sexually promiscuous cousins from Beta sector. The jerkwad. The likeable boy next door. Dalmora, the popular perfect queen bee who we set out to hate."I really and truly hate to admit I'm wrong, but sometimes I have to. Dalmora Rostha, the gifted daughter of Ventrak Rostha, born to be an adored Alphan vid personality of the future, and a living embodiment of everything I envied, was nice. I'd fought the idea for as long as I could, but she really was. It was truly sickening that someone so perfect should actually be nice as well."Wrong, wrong, wrong. Take your high school tropes, toss them out the window. These people are not who they initially seem. That is the beauty of this book. Everything turns out to be so much more wonderfully complex than at first glimpse.I really loved the world-building in this one. The history of Earth and how it came to be abandoned was well-done. The history of the other planets, the Sectors, were well-developed and well-described. The first-person narrative is not annoying at all, and I loved the insight into Jarra's thoughts as she gradually comes to term with her own prejudice and her preconceptions. I love her self-flagellation and grudging acceptance of her classmates, as well as her acknowledgement that she herself is imperfect, and her descent from hubris is a joy to read."The class might be exos, but they weren't a bad bunch. I’d taken an instant dislike to the Betans, but now they’d turned out to be being pretty noble in their way.I’d come to terms with the rest of the class being exos. The question was, could they come to terms with me being Handicapped?"I do have one problem with this book that made it slow reading for me past the 50% mark. Jarra is TOO perfect, at times. I'm not talking about her personality, I am talking about her skills. She is smart, undoubtedly, but she is ultimately TOO COMPETENT in everything she does. She knows the history of the world and the sectors inside and out, she can operate complicated machinery, use rarified equipment, there is nothing she can't do it, seems. Ultimately, it bothered me, but did not majorly hurt my enjoyment of the book. I also love the relationship she develops with Fian. He is such a strong, loyal character, and I appreciate the fact that they didn't fall into insta-love. Jarra ain't got no time for that, y'all. She's a girl on a mission.Highly recommended, and I greatly anticipate the next book in this series.Thanks to my girl Faye for her beautifully persuasive review that finally convinced me to read this book =)