is one of those rare current young adult sci-fi novels that is not
dystopian - I've seen it described as such in reviews, but I honestly cannot see it.
The society it's set in, in the 28th century, seemed perfectly normal to me - no oppressive government, some odd-to-us rules & customs but nothing aggressively restrictive or punishable, a Military that is not just looked up to but portrayed in a positive light, unified humanity, and so on. Not perfect, no - it's not a utopia either, far from it, especially in people's attitudes (I think the blurb gives away enough to indicate what the central issue of this book concerns, for the main character) but just... normal?
Anyway. Just as the society in this book, the book itself is not perfect either. In particular, I can easily see why some readers would consider Jarra, the protagonist (and the "Earth Girl" of the title) a bit of a "Mary Sue" - she's extremely capable & accomplished, absorbs knowledge easily, masters unarmed combat in a month, people like her, what not - but I felt her (very real, very human) flaws outweighed that particular criticism, especially since I like strong, capable heroines.
There were things I wasn't entirely happy with, and for a character-driven story, I wish some of the secondary cast had been fleshed out a bit more, but ... I really enjoyed the book. The pacing - which is another thing that isn't going to work for everyone - really worked for me; I was happy enough to get some action at last towards the end of the book but I was also more than happy to have most of the book focus on the characters' normal, daily life.
Also, while I could have wished that the romance had been given a bit more time to develop, I didn't really mind that part of the book either - not the least because (a) there was no love triangle! and (b) Fian, the love interest, was actually a thoroughly nice guy, not a possessive growly alpha bad boy.
I'm definitely looking forward to the next book(s) in this series - I'm curious as to how this develops, now that some of that central conflict seems to be mostly gone (I may be wrong here, but it's how it seemed to me).