(A brief aside before I begin: Regardless of the author’s intent in writing this book, and her subsequent arguments defending it, there’s a whole lotta racism going on in here. Smarter people than me have already blogged that issue to death, so I’m not going to touch it. If you are dying to know about it, go here and read the first dozen reviews: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12393909-revealing-eden)
So, I finally figured out why my review of “Revealing Eden” was taking so long; I was approaching it in the wrong way. For some reason, I was treating it like an academic essay (thesis, arguments, conclusion, etc.).
I hate academic essays.
I’m just going to review it the way I would if I were talking to a friend (and since you’re reading my blog, I’m assuming we’re friends…=') )
I’ll start with a very basic synopsis:
Revealing Eden, a future dystopia that’s meant to “turn racism on its head”, is the story of Eden Newman, a young white girl living in a post-cataclysm world where black people rule and white people are oppressed. In her quest to find a mate (and help her genius-scientist father save the human race), she falls in love with her black employer.
If that sounds dull, uninspired and uninteresting, that’s because it is. The problem with “Revealing Eden” is that the writing is so lazy – oftentimes sloppy – that the characters and settings are woefully underdeveloped and the book is rife with inconsistencies to its own internal logic.
The world is ruled by black people, yet the one person smart enough to “save” everyone is a white guy (Eden’s father).
The names given to the different races are referred to as “slurs” yet only the one for black people is an actual insult (both in the book and in real life).
The surface of the planet is supposed to have been ravaged and rendered unlivable by the “Great Meltdown”, yet there’s a section of the Amazon Rainforest that not only survived intact, but is also peopled by the “mysterious” Huaorani tribe (who, by the way, do actually exist, in Ecuador, but who do not speak Spanish, contrary to what the book portrays).
The white people are supposed to wear a dark skin coating to protect them from the deadly rays of the sun, yet Eden traipses around the Amazon – free of her coating – and doesn’t get so much as a tan.
Speaking of Eden (the girl who’s going to help save humankind is named Eden…New…Man – not gonna touch that one), though she’s supposed to be smart and capable, her actions reveal her to be shallow, superficial and naïve.
She figures out her father’s secret world-saving plan – that’s supposed to be kept a secret – and uses it to impress a black guy she’s trying to bed. He, of course, betrays her and uses the information in a bid to seize power so he can kill off all the white people.
Also, she constantly spouts off the scientific names of plants and animals because…well, I’m not sure why she does this. She does it at the most random intervals but it’s never explained why. Maybe it’s meant to show her intelligence? If that’s the case, it doesn’t work. It becomes tedious and distracting and makes her seem less intelligent, rather than more.
Okay, I’m done with this; it’s time to shift gears here. While I was reading the book, I made copious notes to help with the review. I’m just going to include the relevant ones here, because they’re illustrative and will easily make my point for me…also, thinking about this book is starting to give me a headache and I have stuff of my own I need to be writing.
If you don’t feel like reading the notes, that’s fine. I’ll just say, as an ending note: This author took a potentially interesting idea and did a terrible job at executing it. Apparently, the idea was done right in Malorie Blackman’s “Noughts and Crosses” Check that out instead.
“They must not see” (p. 10 – first page of story, 2nd sentence. I get the need to other the “bad guys”, but given the history of the US, and the nature of this story, referring to black people as “them” is probably not the wisest decision. she does this a lot)
(what’s w/ all the scientific names? – distracting)
(who names a character “Peach”, like actual name instead of nickname?)
“Experience something pleasant” (p. 11 – shouldn’t that be think of something pleasant?)
“Pearls, the racist term for whites” (p. 12)
“Images of Pearls in natural coloring were forbidden. If they caught Eden looking, she would be punished” (p. 13 – if the images are forbidden, why does she have such easy access to them?)
“…according to the antique Beauty Map…” (p. 13 – what the hell is a beauty map?)
“Me? Eden Newman?” (p. 13 – Eden Newman…Eden…New Man…subtlety this is not…)
“She was a lowly Pearl, worth nothing (emph mine) in a world ruled by dark skinned Coals” (p. 13 – because pearls are worthless…???)
“Because of his high intelligence scores, they had overlooked his race and given him the position of lead scientist” (p. 14 – on her scientist father getting a lead research position. no one else – no one else – in the entire society is smarter than this one “Pearl”…)
“Since their numbers hadn’t been decimated in The Great Meltdown, as the other races’ had, they now ruled the planet” (p. 15 – because having greater numbers always determines who rules…)
“Only Cottons, the derogatory word for albinos, were lower, and they were extinct.” (p. 15 – because albinism denotes a separate “race” and not a genetic trait)
“If Eden wasn’t mated in six months when she turned eighteen – the deadline for girls – she’d be cut off from Basic Resources, and left outside to die.” (p. 15)
“Eden flinched. One of them was touching her. White-hot light exploded in her head. Before she knew it, she blurted out an incendiary racial slur.
‘Get your hands off of me, you damn Coal!’ ” (p. 15)
“The girl lunged for her, but Eden jumped out of reach.
“She pushed me!” Ashina cried, falling to the floor.” (p. 15 – how can you “push” someone towards you?)
“Even those whom she thought tolerated her presence hurled racial epithets.
‘White death!’ ”(p. 15)
“…skin the color of storm clouds…” (p. 17 – aren’t storm clouds usually various shades of gray – from light to dark? …mmmaybe, 50 shades of gray?)
“…a mixed Asian, or Amber, as the racist term went…” (p. 18)
“…why not pick a Tiger’s Eye, or Latino? They ranked higher in the race wars than Ambers, who stood above Pearls.” (p. 19)
(she refers – repeatedly in the story – to Jamal, the head of security, as her Dark Prince.) p. 19
“Only a cold bastard like Bramford could resist Jamal’s charm. His expression remained impassive, as closed off as his past.” (p. 20 – if this is meant to be foreshadowing, it is really clumsy. if not, what purpose does it serve? in the next pp she talks of “researching” him – why/how would a “lowly Pearl” get access to such information?)
“Eden found the custom gold ring, which held a large onyx stone, as pretentious as its owner.” (p. 20 – custom gold ring w/ a large onyx (obviously the author is aware of its worth) – yet the black people are referred to as Coals…???)
(random and recurring mentions of genetics/genomes. why? to add “feeling” of being scientific/intellectual?) p. 21
(the main character vacillates between haughtily condescending and ridiculously naïve – is that meant to represent a typical teenager? but she grew up in a “post-apoc wasteland” so she’s not a typical teenager) p.21
“Even here she couldn’t escape Bramford’s colossal ego. Like an animal, he had marked his territory by carving a ridiculously large initial “B” onto each unit door. His audacious company logo – a snow-capped black mountain against a red desert background that offered a false hope in a parched land – glowed at intervals along the walls. As if he owned everything, including her” (p.22 – uh…what CEO doesn’t tag everything with their brand?)
“…happiness had gone the way of the dolphins.” (p. 23 – what a strange thing to say)
“…she flashed on the date: the 29th of May, her half birthday. For Earth’s sake, how could she have forgotten?” (p. 24 – she didn’t forget. see note from page 15)
“…her lingering anger over Bramford’s lies…” (p. 25 – what lies has he told?)
“A Pink Pearl [Eden’s mother] was fairer than Eden, and therefore even more susceptible to the Heat. But she’d been lax about coating. Minor rebellions keep the heart alive, she would say.” (p. 27 – so, is this “coating”, this Midnight Luster, is it mandatory so the Coals don’t get offended by the sight of Pearls, or is it some kind of preventative/prophylactic/”sunblock” that the Pearls need for enviro protection?)
“Eden switched on Austin’s nutrient teat, and he began to suck hungrily on it.” (p. 27 – in a future of limited resources where Pearls are at the bottom of the ladder, why would a Pearl have not only the luxury of owning a dog, but also a dog-feeding system built in to her home?)
“…his powerful body dominating the small space like a mountain in a cave…” (p. 67 – who writes like this? what does it mean?)
“Nearly two decades of oxy drips had…”(p. 108 – she’s 17½ and started oxy when she was 5 – that’s NOT nearly two decades, that’s just over one decade)
Was it because Eden now lacked a shed of dark coating? (p. 111 – where is the editor???)
“The name had struck a nerve in him. If she said it again, he might make her pay. He might grab her with those big, rough hands and pin her down.” (p. 113 – ok, this reads like really bad porn-lite. and, of course, the black guy with “those big, rough hands”…)
“Luckily, she recalled a few Spanish words she had learned whenever her sensors had translated.” (p. 116 – what does this mean? when had her sensors translated Spanish?)
“She slipped on a pile of Brazil nuts and fell onto a log.” (p. 125 – wha? huh? why?)
“It’s evident that you have a talent for aggravating him. A common female tactic to attract the male’s attention.” (p. 133 – this is her father talking to her. I suppose being a “brilliant scientist” does not preclude being a sexist d-bag)
“Eden knew the woman meant well. But then, the road to Earth’s destruction had also been paved with good intentions.” (p. 137 – on the “native woman” putting a poultice on her father’s wound…what the f**k!!!)
“Maria gave her a warning look. ‘Bejuco de oro muy fuerte.’ ”(p. 138 – <== that is not a sentence!!!!!)
“In fact, the Huorani met the most trivial events with a happiness that puzzled Eden. Maybe they didn’t know how boring their lives were.” (p. 140 – what an awful person she is)
“If only Austin were there to protect her. If only she had paid attention to his warnings.” (p. 146 – …Austin was her dog…)
(The amount of “convenient” knowledge she possesses is simply ridiculous) p. 151
(This girl is giving a nature lecture as she’s about to be killed by a giant snake) p. 156
“…Eden peered inside at an unappetizing dark brown watery soup, surprisingly odorless.” (p. 173 – her sentence constructions are awful)
“…he seemed as far away from her as the world was from their lonely encampment.” (p. 174 – this turn of phrase does not work for a post-apoc planet where most live underground and these two are in the ‘last bit of green’ anywhere.)
“To her surprise, Bramford squeezed her hands, as if he were trying to communicate.” (p. 174 – they then go on to have a 2-3 page conversation…so he didn’t need to try…)
(having a “let’s-reveal-all-of-one-character’s-secrets-while-he’s-in-a-drug-induced-stupor” conversation is so lazy!!!) p. 179
“Love? If it did exist, it hurt like Bleeding Earth.” (p. 181 – what the heck does this mean?)
“It never occurred to Eden that various parts of a plant contained different remedies – it was just a plant.” (p. 201 – she was assistant to her father – the most brill scientist EVAR – and smart enough to piece together his “plan” and can’t go 5 sentences w/o dropping some scientific nomenclature, but this shit about plants never occurred to her?)
“…the tube-lipped nectar bat, Anoura fistulata, so necessary for pollination in the rain forest…”(p. 202 – yet the plant info never occurred to her)
“What deep dark secret could cause the girls’ irrepressible spirits to wilt? Even Maria’s shoulders sagged. It had to be some superstitious Huaorani belief, perhaps because of his mixed race.” (p. 202 – cos dem brown people’s got some krazeeee ideas about shit!!!)
(this girl is RIDICULOUS!!! she keeps jumping to crazy conclusions based on the skimpiest of “evidence” and then makes decisions based on them!!) p. 202
(This author doesn’t telegraph her punches, she takes out full-page newspaper ads!!!) p. 177/204
“ ‘Are you all right, Daught?’ her father said, his voice shaky. Even now, as his energy drained away, he only showed concern for her. For once the dreaded nickname comforted Eden.” (p. 205 – this makes no sense!!! he’s basically shut her out since her mother’s death and she’s been bitching for the entire book about how he never pays attention to her.)
“Using her finely developed researcher’s skills, she memorized the leaf Maria had given her…”(p. 211 – this book has got to be a joke…it simply has to be…)
(in – what? 3, 4 days TOPS – she’s all of a sudden Sheena, Queen of the Jungle?) p. 211
(she’s seriously – SERIOUSLY – riding him like he’s an actual beast. This book is f*cked up) p. 213
“A delicate rainbow arced high in the glistening air like a stairway to heaven.” (p. 214 – when has a rainbow ever approximated a stairway? maybe a pathway…and, seriously, stairway to heaven? as they head towards Heaven’s Gate?)
“Eden realized that her father probably would be the first non-native to take its medicine. “We could call it Newman’s Cure,” she said, hopefully” (p. 221 – my god!!! how arrogant and selfish is this girl???)
“What on Blessed Earth would it take for Bramford to trust her?” (p. 229 – she has done NOTHING in the entire novel to make anyone trust her.)
She lifted her head to find Austin sprawled on top of Jamal’s face. (p. 234 – what????)
An indirect approach was best, she decided. (p. 241 – that’s all she’s done for the whole book!!!!)