My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bookshelves: ya, sci-fi, futuristic, my-dystopia-utopia, post-apocalyptic, bad-dialogue, mary-sue-and-gary-stu
The year is 2789. Our heroine, Jarra, is a throwback, one of the small percentage of people with a genetic anomaly that renders her physically incapable of using portals to move among the planets. If she tries it, she’ll die, kind of like me and penicillin. Jarra sets out to prove a point, that “apes” and “neans” like herself are as human as everyone else; they’re just stuck on Earth, that’s all, abandoned by their parents as a source of shame, which makes Earth a dumping ground of sorts, like Australia was for the British. She enrolls in an off-planet university with a first-year history program conducted on Earth and makes up an acceptable background, with the intention of revealing her true self to the hateful “exos” only after she bests them all.
My opinion is mixed. There were things I really liked and things I didn’t like.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
1. Mary Sue alert! Another reviewer wrote that Jarra is one of Mary Sue-iest Mary Sues she’s ever read, and that nails it. It was like Ayla of the Earth’s Children series jumped forward in time from pre-historic Eurasia to futuristic sci-fi. Jarra knows everything, and I mean everything. She frequently takes over class lectures because she knows more than the teacher does. Ugh.
2. Dialogue. Most of it is unrealistic, used as infodumps, so it’s usually Jarra telling everything to everyone by way of exposition. The characters didn’t interact with each other so much as they listened while Jarra showed off.
3. The giggling. I was at 59% when I was just over reading “I giggled.” After that I wanted to slap Jarra upside the head every time she giggled. I dislike giggling, word and deed.
The world itself. It is imaginative, a blend of futuristic utopia via other developed planets and the Earth itself being rather a dystopia. I was left wanting more, though–what system of government do they have? What happened that made everyone evacuate Earth? What research has been done about the Handicapped who cannot portal? It’s hinted at that it’s genetic, but I would expect a futuristic society where people can regrow limbs to know more about it.
My biggest beef in this regard was the single sentence about scientific proof of creationism. How do you take something as ginormous as scientific evidence of the existence of God (or whatever) and leave it as a throwaway? (Update: For a sci-fi novel that is centered around proof of intelligent design, check out Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God. I loved it.)
1. Not a complete Mary Sue. I didn’t hear one word about Jarra’s extraordinary beauty or exotic accent. I have no clue what she looks like, and I appreciate that.
2. The archaeology. The ruins of New York City as a massive dig site was fun, with impact suits and hover sleds and hover belts and lasers used to clear rubble and find stasis boxes (think time capsules) buried by evacuees on their way out.
3. The science. Solar arrays scattered around the universe, planet development, the perils of solar storms, portable dome shelters, various sci-fi-ish gadgets including cell phones (“hand terminals” in the Expanse series or “communicators” from Star Trek, referred to here as “lookups”) all make their appearances.
3. The overall story. It’s a new take on bigotry and overcoming prejudice, with a nice moral. There are no physical beauty standards and sexuality is circumspect, so with the overall YA slant I recommend it for teen readers.
A decent read, overall.
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