This anticipated sequel to Edwards’ highly successful debut YA science fiction Earth Girl, recently hit the bookshelves and I scooped up a Kindle copy. Would it live up to the high standard set by the first book in this entertaining and original series?
Eighteen-year-old Jarra has a lot to prove. After being awarded one of the military’s highest honours for her role in a daring rescue attempt, Jarra finds herself – and her Ape status – in the spotlight. Jarra is one of the unlucky few born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Derided as an ‘ape’ – a ‘throwback’ – by the rest of the universe, Jarra is on a mission to prove that Earth Girls are just as good as everyone else. Except now the planet she loves is under threat by what could be humanity’s first ever alien contact. Jarra’s bravery – and specialist knowledge – will once again be at the centre of the maelstrom, but will the rest of the universe consider Earth worth fighting for?
This interesting concept is braided into the idea that Earth is now a backwater, largely inhabited by those unable to survive on other planets, and large tracts are now deserted and falling into ruin. But as a great deal of knowledge has also been lost in the social upheaval engendered by the flight to new planets, archaeologists from all the colony worlds congregate in the race to discover some of the scientific advancements now denied to humanity. It’s a cool twist – the world that comes closest to this idea is Eric Brown’s fabulous depiction of Paris in Engineman, which I think is one of the best slices of world-building I’ve ever read…
In addition, the story in Earth Star is pacy, event-filled and engrossing such that I didn’t put the book down until I’d finished. Jarra’s adventures in Earth Girl were exciting enough – but everything moves up a gear in this second book, when an alien spaceship appears. This being Edwards, of course, this often-covered science fiction plot device doesn’t settle into any sort of generic tale, but is given an extra twist. Jarra is pitchforked right into the middle of the action, along with her boyfriend. And before you roll your eyes at the notion of a teenage girl finding herself right in the middle of a major flap about an incipient alien invasion – there is a solid reason why she is there. And it works, in my opinion.
In amongst all the non-stop action, we also have Jarra’s relationship with her boyfriend deepening and her fear of commitment addressed. We meet other interesting characters – and learn a bit more about some of the main protagonists that appeared in Earth Girl. Niggles? Um. No. Not one. I just relaxed into this enjoyable, thoroughly readable book and am very much looking forward to reading the third book in the series to discover what will happen next.