EARTH-SIM by Jade Kerrion is a short book with grand ideas. This review is most likely going to be all over the place, because my feelings for the book are all over the place! We’ll start by saying I generally quite enjoyed the majority of EARTH-SIM – the concept is fantastic and the writing engaging. But I almost felt like I was reading an excerpt from a much larger book!
The story starts fairly abruptly, with Jem settling in to her first day of SIM-709 – a university graduate class in which she is one of only two undergraduates. The other, Kir, becomes her partner for the simulation. The class, as we learn, is to use skills in all fields to create and maintain a functioning planet and society. Only this simulation deals with real people and planets (which is very cool and has great potential). I can’t help but wonder, though, if Jem is not only from another galaxy and planet (she is) but also a completely separate universe? Are they creating and maintaining planets just in different galaxies (which means the planets and the people could eventually interact with their own galaxy, planets and people) or is this a universe within a universe type deal? A minor-detail annoyance, but for a reader like myself, one I can’t help but latch on to.
The characterization and interactions are slow and quiet, but it works. Jem’s history is revealed in small pieces throughout the story and she has a completely separate plot line surrounding her – not just the one of her and Kir playing God to their sim-planet. I found her boyfriend Rio to be mostly off-stage in his interactions with Jem and you don’t get much sense of their relationship. Jem’s and Kir’s relationship is nice. It starts off as almost-enemies and evolves into steady friendship and a wish on the reader’s part for more than that (especially since Rio is almost non-existent in the narrative). Kav, Kir’s little brother, is adorable and his interactions with Jem very sweet. Unfortunately, the secondary plot that surrounds Jem isn’t really noticed until halfway through the story and is then both wrapped up and left wide open very quickly. It didn’t feel like there was even a semi-solid conclusion at all – I can only hope there is a sequel planned to deal with said plot.
The actual interactions of Jem and Kir with their sim-planet (Earth, of course) are so good. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the planet from before the dinosaurs to modern day. There are events happen that replicate moments from the Bible, and the religious aspect of the idea of God (or Gods, as Jem and Kir seem to be) influencing the planet in a very direct sort of way is nicely offset by the scientific aspect of evolution and direct manipulation of the planet from an outside source. There are a few pop culture references that jarred me out of the story that I didn’t really expect to see amongst the historical facts, but other than those, the narration of Earth’s influenced history (and how a bit of it ties into Jem’s mysterious history and plot) is very fun and engaging.
On the whole, EARTH-SIM by Jade Kerrion is a very imaginative and attention grabbing story. A quicker read, I was interested enough to read it in one sitting. Though a bit indifferent to the characters at the beginning, I was more attached by the conclusion of the story. There are some very clever moments wrapped around Earth’s basic history and an intriguing look at religious aspects of that history (and what certain events in the Bible happened because of). So while I did basically like the book, I just wish there had been more! I feel like there was so much more information and potential story that could have been presented to help flesh out what is there. ”