YA Weekend: Earth Flight by Janet Edwards
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Series: Book 3 of Earth Girl
Publisher: Pyr (US: 9/8/15)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
If you ask me, this trilogy couldn’t have ended more perfectly. Earth Flight is a great example of a feel-good conclusion, a bright beacon in the darkness illuminating a path of hope for the disadvantaged and forgotten. It may be an imperfect galaxy, but this story still makes me want to celebrate progress and cheer for the future of humanity. I’m so glad I got to finish this journey, because I’ve been in love with this series ever since reading the first book.
After all, who could forget Earth Girl especially if you picked up the US version and the first thing you saw was that gorgeous cover? In case you haven’t seen it, the image shows a striking image of a girl embracing the world, a world that is also on a chain shackled to her ankle. Because for a girl like Jarra, that’s what the Earth is – her home, but also her prison.
Even in this far-flung future, children can be born with hereditary diseases and genetic conditions. Novak-Nadal Syndrome is an immune disorder that confines those it affects to Earth, and Jarra has it. Humans have developed portal technology at this point; with a few easy steps, you can find yourself in any of the many worlds they have colonized, except Jarra can’t visit any of them. If she traveled anywhere beyond Earth’s atmosphere, she would go into anaphylactic shock and die in seconds.
Unsurprisingly, everyone who could leave Earth has already done so, hundreds of years ago. It is now mostly home to those “Handicapped” with Novak-Nadal, though worse terms have sprung up over time to describe those with the syndrome: Ape, Neanderthal, Throwback…as an Earth girl, Jarra has heard it all. Earth and its citizens have mostly been forgotten, discriminated against and left behind. About a year ago though, Jarra changed it all when she joined an off-world university archaeology program that was doing its excavations on Earth. That decision has led to where she is today, showing first her class and then the entire galaxy that the Handicapped aren’t ugly, smelly, or any of the other horrible things that have been said about them. But for the condition that keeps her Earth-bound, she’s just like everyone else. Human.
By the start of this third book, Jarra has already affected much political and social change for the Handicapped and for Earth. But there are still those who reject her humanity and despise everything she stands for. They hate the fact she’s dating her boyfriend Fian, a norm. They hate that she’s been awarded with medals for all her accomplishments. They hate her for being part of the program preparing for humanity’s first ever contact with an alien civilization. Now Jarra’s life is in danger because these factions have already proven they are willing to do anything to silence her.
I enjoy science fiction with powerful social messages, and I love that the one in the Earth Girl trilogy is prominent but at the same time not beating-it-into-your-face-with-a-sledgehammer about it. It is first and foremost concerned with telling a story, one which has also gotten a lot less predictable since book one. So much has happened since then; among these events is Jarra learning more about her ancestry and a freakin’ alien sphere at showing up on Earth’s doorstep. Anything can happen. For a Young Adult series, it is also refreshingly free of the familiar tropes and clichés of the genre. The first book breathed new life into YA for me, and Earth Flight continued to do so.
My one regret is seeing less archaeology play into the plot of this book. But I’m an archaeology nerd, so don’t mind me. It was, however, another reason I immediately got sucked into these books, because it amuses me to imagine researchers almost a thousand years from now happily digging up and studying our trash. But while its themes are mostly centered around the far off future and beyond, this sci-fi series is unique in that it also shows a love for human history and respects the lessons we learn from it.
In the Earth Girl trilogy, Janet Edwards has created a stunning futuristic world with realistic and loveable characters. I absolutely adore it. In fact, I’m a little sad that it has ended. If this gives rise to a spin-off series, I certainly wouldn’t complain; there are lots of characters I’d like to meet again, especially in Team 1 – Playdon, Dalmora, Krath, Amalie – but really, I would be thrilled to see anything, as long as we get to return to this universe.
Bottom line? This third installment Earth Flight is fantastic, a beautiful and heartwarming conclusion to a trilogy that is deserving of so much love and attention. If the premise sounds interesting to you, be sure to check it out, and I hope it will enthrall and move you as much as it did me.