You know, I've read a lot of reviews of this book this week, and I've seen a few comments along the lines of "just don't talk about this book. Bury it. Ignore it. Let it die." And while I can see the logic in not giving it any more publicity, I don't think "not talking about it" is ever the right course of action. I firmly believe that if things happen in real life, they are worth writing about, and that includes racism. And, intentionally or not, Save the Pearls is very, very racist. So to me, we need to talk about it. We need to pick it apart and mock it and slam it for being A) very very racist and B) very very badly written. I don't see how we make the world a better place by not talking about things, even ugly things.
Also, this book is so full of WTF, it would be a crime not to mock it.
So, onwards, to chapter two!
As you may recall from the end of chapter one, poor oppressed Eden hurled a racial slur at her supervisor and started a potential lynch mob. I can only assume Foyt wants us to think Eden is spunky and feisty for yelling abuse at her boss, but she just comes across as stupid and, well, racist. Please note that Eden is the first character in the book to use a racial slur.
Anyway. Eden head for the exit when her dad calls her name. Actually, he calls out, "Daught" which is apparently what he always calls her because that extra syllable is just way too much effort and not futuristic enough. There's no reason for him to do this. Eden doesn't acknowledge him (we learn in chapter one they pretty much haven't spoken since Eden's mother died of the Heat seven years ago and barely spend any time together, despite the fact they work together and live together). Eden just lowers her eyes because you're never supposed to look a Coal in the eye, and then she runs. The workers start to chase her, then stop abruptly when Ronson Bramford, owner of the facility she works in, enters. He's a Coal and he immediately orders everyone back to work, except Eden. Eden can't decide what's worse - "being murdered by a mob or dealing with the arrogant bastard."
So Bramford stops her being lynched, despite her being a lowly Pearl who flings racial insults at her Coal boss, but oh god, how tedious, now Eden has to, like, talk to him, ffs. Her life. What is it?
Bramford has skin the colour of storm clouds. Here are some pictures of storm clouds so you can better visualise what this black man might look like:
Bramford is 22 years old and unmated, but that's okay because men don't have to mate until age 24. Women have until age 18, because...for reasons, I guess. Eden's big mopey wangsty goal in life is mate in the next six months, otherwise she'll be kicked out onto the blistering, deadly, sunny surface to die because...for other reasons. This is pretty crappy, vague worldbuilding, like Foyt read a few other post-apocalyptic novels and just latched onto the idea that REPOPULATE THE EARTH OH GOD was the main way of telling you were in a post-apocalyptic environment. But it makes no sense here. For one thing, it doesn't seem like the population is going to be that depleted. We've lost the majority of the whites (I'm ignoring the albino thing because dammit, albino isn't a race, it's a pigmentation defect). According to my Google-Fu, white people currently make up something like 15% of the global population. Asians (including East, South, and South East Asians) account for around 54%, blacks account for another 15%, Hispanics are 8% and Middle Eastern are 8%. I'm sure these numbers aren't exact, because finding exact racial demographics is hard due the various ways you can define race (ie, native Australians tend to be ignored because the numbers are so low; there's some dispute over whether Latino should be accepted as a category, etc).
Anyway. So assuming we've lost the majority of Caucasian population, that still doesn't leave black races as the majority. We know that Hispanic (Tiger Eye's) and Asian (Ambers) races are not as badly affected the Heat as Pearls, so we can probably assume there are still plenty of them around, so again, black races would still not be dominant. We don't know how far in the future Save the Pearls is set, so I guess we can say, oh well, it's been long enough that birth rates for blah blah blah, but that's probably bollocks. So, you know, the population in this book really probably isn't low enough that making babies asap is the primary concern for young women of mateable age.
For another thing, if Pearls are so fucking useless and prone to dropping dead, why make them reproduce at all? Stop them having babies and passing on their inferior genes and burdening the world with more doomed babies, dammit!
Where were we? Oh yeah, Bramford takes Eden and Ashina aside to find out what's going down. Ashina says Eden attacked her and Eden knows that "a Coal's word always outweighed a Pearl's. Always." Which is presumably why Bramford doesn't believe Ashina and stands up for Eden. Eden thinks there's probably some hidden agenda at work, because Eden has a deep-rooted irrational hatred of Bramford and assumes everything he does is motivated by the fact that he's an evil bastard. Gosh, that sounds a bit prejudiced, doesn't it?
Bramford summons Jamal, the head of security. Eden is pleased. "Giddy pleasure welled up in Eden at the sight of him. My Dark Prince."
Yes. Let's challenge racial stereotypes by falling back on the most cliched description of a black man from a romance novel we can possibly find. Racism solved. Congrats.
Jamal and Eden are secretly dating, because Jamal is "colourblind" and Eden hopes he wants to "pick up her mate option." I hate that Foyt thinks not seeing race is something we should aspire to. You don't solve a problem by shoving it under the carpet. Race is important. Cultural identity is important. History is important. Saying you don't see colour is saying you're ignoring all those things and it's a position you can only be in if you're the oppressor, not the oppressed. You don't have to see colour because you've never experienced life as a POC who is held down and back because of their colour. It's not okay.
Jamal has footage of Eden and Ashina's set-to, but Bramford wants to watch it alone, which makes Eden suspicious because he's a cold-hearted bastard. Bramford gives Ashina a bit of a verbal smackdown and Eden is put on probation, which means she doesn't have to come to work until Bramford personally summons her back. There's some mutterings about a terrorist group called the FFP (Federation of Free People) who might be after Eden's father's brilliant science. Nobody is supposed to know what her dad's up to except him and Bramford, but Eden has apparently figured it out because she's brilliant too. I haven't seen much evidence of that so far, but fine.
Eden burns at the injustice of being put on probation. She burns, you guys. She hurled a racial slur at her superior in a world where Pearls are so freaking oppressed they're not even allowed to go around without BLACKFACE ON DID I MENTION THAT, and yet rather than being lynched like in her nightmares, she gets told to take a time-out by her evil bastard black boss. The injustice.
It's okay though, because Jamal calls her his little bunny and says he'll see her later. Yay.
That's the end of chapter two and my head hurts again. Can we talk a little bit about the supposed oppression Eden and her father are undergoing? Remember how in Avatar, Jake Sully turns out to be a better Na'avi than the Na'avi are, despite having about five seconds of training at using his Avatar? And nobody's like, "look, dude, we hate your planet-raping kind, get the fuck out," they just let him barge in and take over and it's cool? Because the white man can be a much better native than the natives ever can.
In Save the Pearls, despite being a member of a minority, oppressed race, Eden's dad still manages to rise to a position of prominence and importance - hell, the fate of the world rests on his shoulders, allegedly - and drag his bitchy daughter with him. There are no Coals who are educated or brilliant enough to do his job. It's just him. How? Oppression is the systematic mistreatment of one group by another/society. Poverty and race are strongly linked in the real world, and this directly links to the achievement gap between minority and majority racial groups in school. So basically, if you're the minority, you're likely to be struggling to get the same level of education as your Caucasian classmates.
So let's pretend we're in a post-apocalyptic world where solar radiation has driven us all underground and Caucasians are now that marginalised minority. Would Eden's dad really have had the level of education necessary to allow him to rise to his position? Would he be favoured over the now-dominant Coal students who, thanks to being the majority race, are now on the other end of that education gap? It's not like the solar radiation thing just happened last week while he was already at work in his field and he's a valued resource in the new world. His race is not valued. He would not have the same opportunities that the new majority would have.
Hell, is education even an option anymore? We've apparently lost the technology to make sun cream or long-sleeved t-shirts, so how the hell are we funding our genetic experiments, people? And assuming we can fund it and Eden's dad somehow rises above his roots, proves his worth to Bramford and secures his position, what the fuck is Eden doing there? You don't just hand out researcher roles to whoever's kid shows up on the day. The world of academic research is fiercely competitive in the real world. In this fictional world, where apparently we're all doomed unless Eden's dad does his science just right, it'd be even worse. My boss doesn't give out researcher positions unless you've got a CV a mile long, a stack of published papers the height of a small child, and a proven track record of successful research work. Eden just got her job because...for reasons.
Oppression is not what Foyt thinks it is.
- Current Mood: tired