(Save the Pearls #1)
Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she'll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she's cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden's coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she'll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father's secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area 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. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her "adopted aunt" Emily Dickinson.
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 2012
Publisher: Sand Dollar Press
Acquisition: received a copy for review
Heroine: Slim, light skinned, blond and blue-eyed
Hero: Tall, dark skinned, dark hair and dark eyes
*I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Eden Newman is seventeen years old and a Pearl. Pearl is the racist term for the fair-skinned minority.
She lives in a post-apocalypctic world ruled by the Coals, people with darker skin. In this world, to show white skin is an insult so big that gives the Coals an excuse to finish you., so Eden is forced to use a dark coating to hide her skin color. She also has to paint her blond hair black and use brown contact lenses over her blue eyes.
It's very difficult for her to believe that a million years ago she would be considered beautiful. In this new Earth, she is nothing. Eden hates the Coals and everything they represent, but at the same time she wishes she was just like them, as beautiful and safe.
But if there is one thing she is not, is safe. As she approaches her eighteenth birthday, she gets more and more nervous, because she still has no mating option. If she doesn't mate by her birthday, she will lose her Basic Resources. No more food, the relative safety of her miserable job and all her oxy, the calming drug administered by the government. But who would want a Pearl? The only thing worse than being a Pearl is being a Cotton (albino), who are now supposedly extinct. (Any carriers of the recessive gene are forbidded by the Government to breed. Light skin is already quite unacceptable, but having no melanin at all is seen as an abomination that should cease to be.).
The civilization has long moved underground, hiding from the deadly levels of radiation, that causes The Heat (a terrible mutation of skin cancer that spreads very quickly). Coals possess higher levels of melanin on their skin, which protects them from most of the radiation. And because of that higher protection, they were the majority to survive after The Great Meltdown. Due to that, they considered themselves superior to the other surviving races and took control over them.
One of Eden's worse fears is that she might perish from The Heat like her mother (called a Pink Pearl, with red hair) did seven years ago. Her other fears lie in being killed by an angry mob of Coals for the smallest infraction or, even worse, being taken in by the FFP (Federation of Free People), that are the equivalent of Ku Klux Klan to white people.
I was really getting into the book, starting to get mad and desperate over the injustice of this world, liking the characters, the setting and the situations... but then, BAM. All of a sudden it was like a whole new book was inserted in the middle of the one I started. Out comes the dystopian race war and my hopes for some kind of revolution, in comes the Beast man and the Amazonian jungle, indians and wild animals.
I really didn't see it coming. O.o Not that it was bad, you see, but it was weird. It was like the author had changed her mind on what the book should be about after already starting it. It was interesting to see how Eden and the Jaguar Man (that's how the indians called the Coal who received DNA from three different animals in an experiment to try and get more resistance to radiation. He looked like a wild, mixed creation. Half-man, half-animal) got involved. The sexual tension was sizzling, but secrets and disappointments kept coming up to keep them apart.
In a nutshell, the whole thing was nothing like what I expected, but it wasn't bad. Just very different. I wanted to have seen more of their society, some sort of rebellion and change... I don't know, maybe in the enxt volumes?
The beginning Revealing Eden reminded me of Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses, what with the african american supremacy. I found it fascinating to see how things would be if it was the other way around. If white people were the ones on the receiving end of all the prejudice that black people have to deal with nowadays.
If you are open minded, like crazy science fiction books with dystopian touches, jungle settings, mystery and romance, give this one a try. ;)