Summary: 2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an “ape,” a “throwback,” but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.
Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they’ve been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn’t expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.
I was so annoyed when I opened this book and saw the incredibly small print. Seriously, who publishes a book in size 8 font?! But, once I started to read, I forgot about the small font and became immersed in the story.
And what a story! By the year 2788, most of humanity has settled on other planets, and the only ones left on Earth are those who cannot survive elsewhere. They’re labeled “Handicapped” and are alternately treated badly but given certain privileges like free schooling and stipends. Earth has become like those fire stations and hospitals where parents can leave their children if they don’t want them. And most of the abandoned children on Earth have no contact with their birth parents.
Jarra, to prove to “exos” (those who left during the exodus to other worlds) that she’s just as good as them, enrolls in a history course on Earth through an off-world university. She makes up a story about having a military background and immediately amazes her instructor and fellow students with her knowledge and skill.
There’s plenty of action in this story since there’s a lot of digging through New York City to find Stasis boxes. More than once, someone gets buried in the rubble. And more than once Jarra comes to the rescue.
This coming-of-age story was a really intriguing read. I loved the characters, even the ones I hated. Some of the off-worlds reminded me a little of the new Battlestar Galactica tv show. Good read.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars