This far-future science-fiction sequel skips tired genre tropes to offer a fresh and thrilling adventure about hazardous archaeological excavation, a mystery in the sky and a potential threat to all of humanity.
It’s 2789. People portal between planets in seconds, often many times per day—except the Handicapped, like Jarra, whose immune systems can survive only on Earth. After her recent life-threatening work helping rescue the crew of a crashed spacecraft (Earth Girl, 2013), she plans to continue studying prehistory by excavating sites of long-dead cities. But before the next dig begins, Jarra and boyfriend Fian are whisked off to a military base and inexplicably sworn in as officers. An unidentified alien sphere is hovering above Africa. Are the aliens hostile? Is their technology superior or archaic? Jarra’s skills, intelligence and courage are both exciting and believable. She evacuates Earth’s Handicapped residents to underground caverns; she solves puzzles about the sphere; she grapples with layers of anti-Handicapped hatefulness; and she becomes a hero again—all due to smarts and hard work, not destiny. Explosions, serious injuries, death and suspense mesh with fizzy romance that includes some sparkling gender-role reversal. Nitty-gritty archaeology details are vivid, and easy slang creates color (“Twoing” is dating; “amaz” means amazing). Edwards shows that speculative fiction needn’t be dystopic, conspiracy-filled or love-triangled to be riveting and satisfying.
Amaz—simply amaz. (Science fiction. 11-16)