As I said, my skepticism for claims of Foyt’s blatant racism is the only reason I bothered to pick up Revealing Eden There’s no way, I thought, that her writing could be as outrageous as reviewers and bloggers have claimed! Unfortunately for Foyt, reviewers were not only correct in pointing out Revealing Eden’s racist undertones, but they were sometimes too kind in trying to justify Foyt’s reasoning. As has been pointed out by many reviewers, the “derogatory” terms given to each race were laughable, in that unlike dirty coal, they were all precious stones – amber, tiger eye, pearl. And the fact that she chose to use the word “Cotton” to represent the lowest class, Albinos, is just a slap in the face to those people (and their descendants) who were forced into slavery, working the cotton fields. Worse still was Foyt’s obvious lack of research, as she merely perpetuated current African-American stereotypes in two ways:
1) by transferring them onto her Caucasian protagonist.
"White people were lazy good-for-nothings with weak genetics."
Or 2) by using current African-American stereotypes when describing any character of color.
"Voluptuous, with raisin-colored skin, everything about Ashina screamed ruling class."
Continuing her theme of perpetuating current African-American stereotypes, Foyt made all of the Coals in Revealing Eden angry or violent.
"She suspected that each and every Coal passerby wanted to hurt her [...]"
"She smoothed a hand over her long black hair to reassure herself. Like her skin, the layers of dark coating – Midnight Luster – she’d worn since birth had turned it dry and crackly. A small price to pay for beauty and for protection. She had to cover her white skin or risk antagonizing the Coals."
If the mere presence of a Pearl is provocation enough to incite a riot, why would Coals bother to surround themselves by Pearls at all? Being the dominant race, they have the power to dictate how the Pearls live – why not force them into the deepest depths of the Combs, where no one has to see them? Or, if Coals are as bad as Foyt would have us believe, why not force all of the Pearls out into the sun and let them fend for themselves? Because of their low rate of survival, they’re forced out by the time they’re eighteen if they’re not mated anyways – what’s a few years early? Or why not breed out weak genes? They’ve already bred out the Albino gene, why not work on doing the same with the Caucasian gene? What about advances in medicine? Eden talks about a machine that feeds her the right combination of drugs whenever she’s ill – in this future Earth we’ve advanced far enough that we have self-diagnosing machines that can treat any variety of illnesses, but we’re unable to create an advanced version of sunscreen? Or some kind of fabric that will prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating to the skin beneath? Nothing about this future Earth made sense.
Which only furthered my constant questioning of why anyone would bother with blackface – “Midnight Luster” – at all? From the sounds of things, the society in Revealing Eden lives underground where the sunlight is unable to damage their skin. What’s the point in covering one’s skin, if not for protection from the sun, when everyone around you is aware of your true ethnicity because of embedded computer chips?
But as an example of Foyt’s lack of forethought, the majority of Revealing Eden is actually spent in the middle of a jungle. Outside. In the sun. After falling in the river and having all of her luster washed clean, Eden is originally fearful of her skin’s direct exposure to the sun. But as the plot progresses, those worries are heard less frequently and at one point, she even remarks at how nice it feels to be outside in the warmth of the sun. Other than the odd reference to someone having died from The Heat, it’s not a valid concern of Eden’s – it’s actually something I forgot about, by the end, because it hadn’t been mentioned in so long. Which further lessens my beliefs, as a reader, for the need of any kind of blackface…err sorry, Midnight Luster coating.
Another major issue I had with Revealing Eden was it’s lack of world-building. Eden is constantly complaining about the injustices she must face as a Pearl. But as far as I could tell, she had everything the Coals had – a well-respected job as a research assistant in a lab, regular meals and a small apartment she shared with her father. Other than the Coals outright dislike for her (which might just be because she’s an awful person), I failed to see how Eden was being oppressed. And she never once acted like someone who was living under an oppressive thumb. She’s defiant and demanding of those who are socially above her and constantly trying their patience, she’s selfish and she has an air of entitlement, having already turned down to mate requests because they were fellow Pearls. Add in that the history of the rise of the Coals is never fully fleshed out, I was completely unable to empathize with her situation.
Once in the jungle, Eden becomes impossible to follow as a character. She’s constantly berating Bramford for being beast-like, and yet she spends her time fantasizing about how his animalistic tendencies ignite a fire in her belly.
"She dared to test the boundaries of their body language and flexed her thighs around his neck. Unbelievably his gait slowed.
A feverish thrill shot through Eden. She could guide Bramford with a mere squeeze. Did she dare push him further?
She couldn’t resist the wild urge to flick her hips against his shoulders. At once he picked up speed. She almost squealed – his raw animal power was at her command. Eden pressed her body against the back of Bramford’s powerful head, rocking to the rhythm of his quick pace. A gush of pleasure swept through her."
(I’m not even going to comment on how much time she spends riding on his shoulders). She drives herself crazy, trying to figure out Bramford’s secrets, but when opportunities arise for her to actually discover parts of the truth, she chooses to remain ignorant in fear of inciting Bramford’s wrath. So most of her time is actually spent wallowing in self-pity or stomping around after Bramford demanding things of him. Towards the end of Revealing Eden, she proclaims to have undergone a transformation, where she realizes truths about herself and the “Real Eden.” Except, she doesn’t change. She’s still self-absorbed and vain, worrying about whether Bramford would find her attractive if she were to also adapt, and when her father refuses to help her, she tries to destroy his experiment so she won’t have to live without Bramford.
There’s so much more I could say, so many other things I could comment on that had my blood boiling or my head shaking. But I’ve already spent more time on Revealing Eden than I ever intended to. If I had 0 stars, Revealing Eden would be the first to join its ranks.