Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Earth Star ever since I finished Earth Girl, and I enjoyed this second book of the series just as much as the first. I love the setting, which is several hundred years in the future when most of humanity is living in off-planet colonies, and I love all the details about the different cultures of those colonies and their thoroughly thought out histories. Like the first, this second book is a few notches down from perfect and that keeps me from recommending it unreservedly--for one thing the main character is a bit of a knows everything and is good at everything Mary Sue type who giggles a lot--but both books held me enthralled and both times I couldn’t help loving the overly talented Jarra because she’s full of enthusiasm and good intentions, and she has some very big challenges. For me Jarra’s Mary Sue qualities are mitigated because the story is wonderful and told in the first person. The reader hears Jarra’s insecurities in her own voice, and she doesn’t brag or see herself as exceptional. On the contrary.
Since most humans now reside in one of the many off-planet colonies connected by easily traversed portals, people like Jarra with an immune system that only allows them to live on Earth are considered handicapped, and rudely referred to as “apes”. Growing up Jarra hadn’t had much contact with “normals” but in the last book she got herself into the first year Earth-based program of a university from Gamma colony by hiding her identity and “condition” from her classmates. It’s a history program and the off-planet students have come to Earth to study what remains of its abandoned settlements. Jarra has already had some experience in the dangerous dig sites of New York City’s ruins so compared to her classmates she’s a superstar. While she had expected to be enemies with her fellow students, assuming they would despise her for her disability, she ends up making friends, falling in love, and is largely (but not completely) accepted by her peers when her unfitness for off planet travel is revealed.
In this second book Jarra and her class are excavating the ruins of what was once the most advanced city on Earth, Eden in Africa. Constructed just before most of humanity fled the planet Eden had advanced technologies humans no longer understand so it’s thrilling work, but the students have barely gotten started when Jarra and her boyfriend are abruptly and secretly drafted into the military and put in charge of a new history division created to research possible past contact with intelligent alien life. That new division is needed because an alien probe has been spotted--not in one of humanity’s faraway colonies, but hovering just above Earth--and the powers that be don’t yet know what to make of it.
Jarra has Earth-bound experiences and a military family background that make it a little less absurd that bigwigs high up the chain of command turn to her for leadership and advice. We learn more about Jarra’s family in this book, which is both interesting and moving, and seeing the future Earth from Jarra’s lively perspective is definitely fun--at one point the whole planet is temporarily evacuated into a huge network of caverns carved under Australia where they proceed to party like it’s the end of the world (and it just might be.)
Earth Star is the middle book of a trilogy and as sometimes happens with that placement its conclusion in my opinion is not strong, but that didn’t much affect my pleasure while reading and I can’t wait to get my hands on the conclusion of the series.