Monday, February 17, 2014
Review: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
Earth Girl by Janet Edwards is touted as a dystopian tale set 750+ years in the future. Most reviewers, however, are quick to point out that if a reader is looking for a dystopian novel where the world is awful and the protagonist has to overcome fearful circumstances, as in Hunger Games or Divergent, this is not it. In fact, those books make this book look downright Utopian in contrast.
The protagonist, Jarra, is stuck on Earth because of some genetic handicap which makes it impossible for her to travel or live on other worlds. Only other such handicapped people are stuck on Hospital Earth. They are even called names like "ape" by other humans who aren't handicapped and stuck on planet Earth. When Jarra graduates from school she applies to take a history course with exos from other planets pretending that she is from a military family rather than divulging that she is handicapped. She knows if she does reveal this information to her classmates she will be ostracized and ridiculed by them and she just wants a chance to prove that she is smart and capable. Jarra does show her classmates how capable she is and even ends up with a love interest, though there are no steamy love scenes.
Edwards writing is strong. Her world-building is interesting and creative. Her characters are a bit one-dimensional but likable, for the most part. In a lot of ways the drama and conflict in the book comes across as a bit milquetoast, just a bit bland. There are no hold-your-breath moments in this book. However, generally speaking I liked the book fine. But my beef with the book isn't so much with the story as it is with the actual published book. Prometheus Books, the American publisher of Earth Girl, made a publishing decision that nearly wrecked the book for me. They printed the book using a too small font for easy reading. They used 10 point font, I think, or used a font that looks really little. The book has the normal trim of most YA books at 8 1/2" by 5 1/4". The book is only 262 pages. It is font size that is the bug-a-boo. I thought of it all the time as I read. Everyone that looked at it said, "Wow, that font is tiny." With normal YA eyes maybe it wouldn't be so difficult to read as I found it to be with my old eyes. This is about the size font one would expect to find in a mass produced paperback, not a regular-sized hardcover YA book. I am guessing that the publisher attempted to keep the page-length of the book down by decreasing font size rather than encouraging the author to edit out some of the lengthy descriptions of the world.
My recommendation to the publishers is to choose a larger font for the paperback version of the book. To readers, since the book is still not available in paperback, select e-book or audiobook, if it is available in this format, or purchase a page-magnifier.
I warned you that this review wouldn't be what you expected. Well, here it is. Publishing decisions really do affect the readability of books. From now on I am opening up books to have a look at the font before I decide to read the book or not. Hope this helps you make an informed decision, too.