RogerBW's Blog

Earth Star, Janet Edwards 25 January 2016

2013 young adult science fiction, sequel to Earth Girl. Jarra is Handicapped, unable to leave Earth for any of the colony worlds where most of society now happens, but after a daring rescue she's a hero. Now her archaeological and historical skills will be tested in an entirely new field.

Obviously there continues to be a strong disability metaphor here, as various "normal" people regard Jarra as a "dirty ape", her boyfriend's parents object to his lumbering himself with her, and so on, while she continues to make the best of life. It's pretty well set up: yes, there are huge and genuine disadvantages to Jarra's status, but it very obviously doesn't make her stupid or incompetent.

On the other hand in this book it does sometimes feel as though everything good falls into Jarra's hands without much effort. She's drafted into the Military, her dream job ever since she found about her family background, and quickly promoted to senior officer even though she's still a teenager who's never even had basic training. The extended family she came from wants to adopt her into it. She has a hugely famous ancestor. Her boyfriend Fian puts up with all her fantods, and never has any of his own. The only people who make any fuss about her being Handicapped are clearly Bad People and are quickly recognised as such by everyone else. She comes up with an out-of-the-blue solution to one of the main problems confronting Earth, which turns out to be correct, and so ends up in charge of dealing with that problem.

So yes, she's unreasonably lucky, and the writer is visibly on her side. On the other hand that's almost background to the important stuff, as Jarra's main challenges are internal: post-traumatic fears, and an inability to discuss problems even though everyone in the world wants to help her. In the first she went a bit mad, and that was very well-drawn; here she overcomes a crippling fear by wishing really really hard that it won't be a problem. Um. Well. OK, I suppose.

It's still not a bad book, because Edwards writes extremely well, and the world-building is distinctly interesting. But this was for me a bit of a step down from the first one.

Recommended by Colin Fine. Followed by Earth Flight.

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