It is 2788 and roughly six hundred years earlier most of humanity portalled off to different worlds in a mass exodus. The only people left behind were those whose immune systems rendered them incapable of leaving Earth. Now Earth is home to what most people refer to as “apes”, that small percentage of unfortunate throwbacks who cannot live on other planets. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is one of the handicapped confined to Earth who chaffs at and bitterly resents being treated as less then human. Jarra initiates a clever plan to join an off-world university class studying history on Earth, starting with an archeological dig at the enormous New York site. After Jarra becomes an accepted, intelligent member of the class she plans to reveal her secret and denounce them all as prejudiced exos.
Jarra’s secret is nearly exposed several times as her manufactured past blends with genuine experiences, a situation that became increasingly complicated as she realized most of her classmates are decent people. Not only are bonds of friendship being forged but Jarra has a chance at love as well but how can she reveal her false identity without losing everything?
This top-notch young adult tale will appeal to readers of all ages as it deals with prejudice on an impressive, believable scale. Although humanity has scattered across the stars, prejudice remains and even as Jarra is denouncing it, her view of exos is every bit as prejudiced as those who would call her an ape and think of her as less then human. The world and character building are imaginative, the storyline inventive and the action will hold your attention to the last page. There is a notable exception to character consistency when Jarra blurs the lines between reality and fiction because she seems too intelligent and levelheaded for that. Especially nice is how the tale feels complete yet leaves plenty of room for further development, unusual when authors seem more intent on creating tiresome series then telling a complete story.