In the latest edition of “post-racial” Young Adult fuhkery, I present Victoria Foyt’s SAVE THE PEARLS, in which even in a topsy-turvy world where white people aren’t the ruling class, black and brown folks are still catching hell.
From the website:
Would you betray your loved ones—and maybe your entire race—to avoid a horrible death?
In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to an overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden Newman’s white skin brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. The clock is ticking: if Eden doesn’t mate before her eighteenth birthday, she’ll be left outside to die.
If only a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class would pick up her mate option, she’d be safe. But no matter how much Eden darkens her skin and hair, she’s still a Pearl, still ugly-cursed with a tragically low mate-rate of 15%.
Just maybe one Coal sees the real Eden and will save her-she has begun secretly dating her handsome co-worker Jamal. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, she is thrown into the eye of a storm-and the remaining patch of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land.
Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity’s last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction to him. To survive, Eden must change-but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty-and of true love.
Acclaimed writer VICTORIA FOYT blends equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this captivating dystopian novel set in a terrifying future, which is all too easy to imagine.
Coals? Beast-man? Jamal?
Besides making me wonder what hope the YA genre has if we keep peddling this kind of stuff, here’s why I have problems:
- Racially coded language: “Dark-skinned” oppressors calling themselves something that conjures images of disgusting, environment-polluting, lung-rotting filth while the white oppressed are referred to as rare, highly-sought after gems…
- Not to mention the Purity Myth-enforcing/Biblical symbolism of the name “Eden Newman…”
- Along with the reckless characterization of white women as helpless and perpetually victimized, by dark-skinned men no less…
- Plus the loathsome idea that a woman should be put to death if she’s not attached to a man by the ripe old age of 18…
- And casting Eden’s father as the great white humanity’s hope…
- Then crafting her crude “enemy” as a lusty, wild, uncontrollable Mandingoed object of affection.
- BONUS: The horrifically-insensitive-at-best-effing-racist-at-worst trailer, book cover and potentially civil-rights-violating “mating” channel on YouTube. Seriously, Midnight Luster?! [UPDATE: All videos have since been deleted from YouTube. Who’s surprised? NO ONE.]
Even after all this, the eternal optimist in me thought, Maybe I should give it a chance. But after reading Foyt’s mealy-mouthed justification for the novel (in which she simultaneously insults and praises “free-spirited” African-American readers), I’m not about to put my good money toward this effort. If y’all read it, let me know what you think.