From School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-Just because Jarra is Handicapped doesn't mean she's a nardle-brain, and certainly not that ultimate insult: an "ape." Almost 700 years in the future, Earth has been largely abandoned, a huge data crash lost most of written history, and portals allow instant transportation across vast distances. Since the Exodus, most people live on other planets. Jarra and other Handicapped cannot use the portals, and for some reason (never made clear), they are considered less intelligent by the Norms, who portal here and there on a daily basis. Jarra decides to show them that she is just as good as they are and applies to an off-world college conducting an archaeology dig on the abandoned buildings of New York. Reinventing herself as Jarra Military Kid, JMK watches vids and takes combat lessons and thinks about how the Norm jaws will drop when she eventually reveals that she is Handicapped. Since she grew up on Earth and has been to the New York digs many times, her skills quickly allow her to shine, particularly when solar flares close the portal, stranding dig teams on Earth. Jarra is an independent heroine, though she giggles an awful lot. The future that Edwards constructs is creative and the dig descriptions are well thought out. The future society, with Twoing contracts before marriage and the varying sector Moral Codes, keeps things lively on the romantic level. The "person against nature" conflict with unstable dig conditions and solar flares makes a refreshing change from "person against paranormal" or "person against government" conflicts currently popular in many YA books.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TXα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Tired of bitter, angst-ridden heroines and their associated dark dystopias? Look no further than Edwards’ refreshing debut, set in the darn-near-utopian universe of 2788 and starring a confident, motormouthed, giggly 18-year-old named Jarra. She’s Handicapped (an ape if you’re rude), the one-in-a-thousand born with a condition that doesn’t allow her to portal outside of Earth. And who wants to hang around boring old Earth? Nobody, unless you’re studying prehistory. So Jarra conspires to join a first-year college archaeology course of off-world teens to prove that an ape can sift through the ruins of New York City just as well, or better, than any privileged Betan or Deltan or Gamman. Make no mistake, this is hard sf (though not painfully hard) that largely forgoes heart-pounding drama in favor of fascinating technicalities and flawless world logic. Yes, there is a romance, but it’s far from the swooning sort: Jarra comes to respect the otherworld norms she has set out to shock and soon is considering boy and girling with Fian, or even entering with him into a Twoing contract. If these patient, intelligent particulars are making your eyes glaze over, that’s because they’re all too rarely found on Planet YA. As Jarra would (loudly) say, this book is totally zan! Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus