Thursday, September 6, 2012
Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt
Shall we start with the title? Revealing Eden itself isn't that bad. It has Biblical associations, implying something about paradise being found. But then, it's subtitled: "Save the Pearls". So right from the start, the book is saying that there's a group of people who are precious (like their namesake) and need to be saved.
Alright, I'll ignore the plot for this book review. But the fact that even a humanities student like me can see the obvious contradictions in the plot (especially the science part) means that the suspension of disbelief required for any fiction novel is near impossible to achieve.
And about the setting. Um, where's the oppression? How is there a water shortage but there's internet? There's something seriously wrong with resource allocation here. And personally, if I wanted to write a book that 'turns racism on its head', I would have done the opposite. Make the heroine dark-skinned. Of course, in that case, I'll be writing historical fiction. Hmm.... so what would I do if I couldn't do anything but write a white heroine? How about this: because of some implausible reason, the lighter-skinned people are almost wiped out. But the African Americans and others remember how they were treated and now help the new minority, treating them with respect and kindness. But of course, those that remember their days as 'superior' plot to destroy what they see as the disrespectful 'overloads'. So our (white) heroine does the courageous thing and betrays those intolerant people, ensuring the continuation of peace.
Now on to the characters. Before I start talking about Eden, let's talk about the use of stereotypes. First off, the different races and nationalities are completely ignored. I'm not a sociologist, but I'm pretty sure that Indians from India, Native Americans, Africans are all (while being dark-skinned) different from one another. So why are they all lumped in together as "Coals"? And it seems like the author cannot bear to have anything bad happen to a white-skinned person. Despite their 'oppression', they're given high-ranking positions in science (of course, they're the only people smart enough for this qualification), are healthy and hardworking (because you know, Eden keeps having to take over for the co-workers who are always ill). In short, they're model employees despite the oppression that I never see.
In addition, why are the "Indians" speaking Spanish? I was under the impression that people from India speak Hindi, Tamil or their other native languages. And why do they not have Indian names? Perhaps a more accurate term should have been used. Actually, the whole book could have been more accurate.
And now, Eden. Of course, Eden is perfect. She flip-flops in her emotions, but that's ok. Because she was merely in denial the first time, and of course she's really in love the second time round. And you know, she hates herself and has low self-esteem despite the fact that I get the feeling that deep down, she loves her skin tone the best (she complains and wishes to be dark, but those complains ring hollow). And even when she's out of society, she still has a pretty easy life. And of course, she's so bright, figuring out things normal people can't do. What a Mary-Sue.
So basically, I felt that this book was racist because it didn't promote equality of the races. Rather, it lifted up one race (the pearls) and (either knowingly or unknowingly) diminished the value of another race (the Coals).
Lastly, this isn't about racism, but I felt that the book was unduly sexual. It's supposed to be a YA book right? But it has descriptions (especially towards the end), where I felt like bestiality was being described. It was unexpected and frankly, it was repugnant. I'm sorry if you want more details, but I can't bring myself to write more. Just please, stay away from this.
To be honest, I only read this book because I was really curious. Plus, I heard a comment to the effect of "only white people have read and reviewed my book" so as what you call a "person of colour", I wanted to add my two cents. And my honest opinion is: this book really is racist.
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.