EDIT: I originally thought that this was chapter 7, but it turns out that I skipped an entire chapter, so this is actually chapter 8. Oops.
Previously, on Save the Pearls:
After being captured by two scary members of the FFP, Eden is taken to the Moon Dance, where she almost raped twice! Though she briefly escapes, she is recaptured, but just when she loses all hope of rescue, her boss Bramford appears to save her. He says some Edward Cullen/Christian Grey-type stuff, and then they return to her father’s lab.
Previously, on Save the Pearls: Eden and Bramford flew on an airplane back to the lab. We learned there’s an Important Fire going on on the surface! That was it.
The chapter opens as Eden, Bramford, and Bramford’s entourage arrive at her father’s operating theater. Remember, tonight is the night of his Big Gene-Splicing experiment.
Bramford asks Eden’s dad if there’s “any sign of them;” eventually, it’s revealed that the test subjects have ~mysteriously~ gone missing. Eden’s father says that Jamal is on the case and questioning everyone. Upon hearing this:
Eden’s eyes cut to the workers below, anxious for a sign of him. She was like a small fish looking at a school of hungry piranhas. If Jamal didn’t save her, eventually they would tear her to bits. But her Dark Prince was nowhere in sight.
So I guess Eden thinks that literally every black person is part of the FFP, now? That’s the only thing this simile can possibly mean, right? Whatever. I have bigger fish to fry.
While you might think that the loss of test subjects might be an obstacle in pulling off the experiment, Bramford and Eden’s father have a cryptic exchange about how Bramford’s genome might not be suitable. Eden’s father wants to play it safe, but Bramford insists on taking their place himself.
Eager, wasn’t he? Eden thought. Maybe he’d planned all along to be the test subject so he could keep the technology for himself. Greedy bastard.
Jesus fuck, Eden, you’re supposed to be smart, remember? Surely you recognize that as this lab’s owner and your father’s employer, the technology already belongs to him? And you realize that it doesn’t make a difference one way or the other if Bramford is the test subject, unless it, you know, kills him? Whatever. This is just manufactured “Eden Hates Bramford For No Reason” drama so that it can be super sexy love-hate sexual tension.
Bramford goes to get ready to be transformed into a guinea pig, leaving Eden alone with her father. She looks over his shoulder so she can see his holographic interface thingy, which shows some photos of the original test subjects, who were white. Since we already know that sick people are fair game for experimentation, I’m guessing that the missing test subjects aren’t exactly volunteers. Does this bother Eden? Nope. Instead, she’s just excited to see a fellow white person.
Such images were illegal, except for scientific purposes, of course. Still, the sight of the man’s pale skin thrilled Eden.
See? This is why representation is so important.
The holographic image begins to run a simulation of the experiment:
Gradually, the newly evolved man came through with dark coloring inherited from the black jaguar, the camouflage spots barely visible on his skin. The eyes, now a pale greenish-gold, had a slight cat-like curve, the face, a feline affect. The jaguar also had given him a more streamlined body. The strong abdominal muscles, a gift from the anaconda.
I’m guessing the simulation looked something like this:
I never read any Animorphs books growing up, but I wish I had so that I could point out how much better they are than this piece of shit book.
Eden says that the “stage one” change that they’re going for with this experiement isn’t too drastic, and that the subject will “resemble a Homo sapiens” more than a jaguar, anaconda, or harpy eagle.
Still, he would be superior to any race.
There’s a lot more where that came from. If you’re a furry, you might feel a little bit (or a lot) kink-shamed going forward. Let me take a moment to say that I have nothing against furries. I just don’t get it as a kink/lifestyle, and therefore it is funny to me. Like golfers.
Suddenly, Eden’s dad notices her, and she gets all dejected that he didn’t recognize her out of a lab coat. We get a resentful mini-flashback to her promising that she would look after her father, as her mother lay dying. Since Eden has done literally nothing for her father so far, I’m inclined to say that she’s broken that promise already, but what do I know?
Just as the flashback ends, Eden gets a call from Jamal. She’s briefly angry at him, though she doesn’t express it, and he apologizes to her for standing her up at the dance. He tells her that it was him who told Bramford to retrieve her, and even though this is an obvious lie for many reasons, Eden believes him. Jamal says that he’s waiting for her now, in his office, and tells her to come on up.
Even though any reader with half a brain would realize by this point that Jamal had set Eden up to get raped/abducted because he’s part of the FFP, Eden just feels twitterpated and giddy that he still likes her. Remember, Eden is supposed to be smart.
As Eden turns to leave for Jamal’s office, she sees Bramford strapped to the bed. He asks her if she thinks he’s crazy, and she lies and says no.
Then we get this asinine exchange:
Whatever he was feeling, his voice never betrayed any emotion.
“Sometimes you have to leap or be pushed. I prefer to land on my own two feet.”
“Well, you might not recognize them,” she said, half joking.
“Once we see the cause and effect of our actions, change isn’t so frightening.”
- This kind of indicates that he has some reason for needing to become Catman–maybe a genetic disease? (he doesn’t).
- Bramford’s second line also makes no sense. The first and second clauses have nothing to do with one another. At least Lani Sarem’s aphorisms sounded nice.
But it seems to impress Eden. She and Bramford gaze at each other, and she wonders if he can see the “real Eden” (she thinks about this a lot, and it’s never really explained what she means by this). It’s meant to be a romantic little moment, and it would work better if she hadn’t spent the entirety of the book so far thinking about what an ass he is.
But then Eden’s dad arrives to put Bramford under anesthesia, and Eden seizes the chance to go flirt with Jamal.
When she gets to the “security area,” she’s surprised to find it empty. When she takes a look at the security feed, she sees her would-be rapists (the black ones) from chapter 6 making their way through the tunnels to the lab! This freaks her out, and instead of thinking, hmm, maybe all this is Jamal’s doing, she runs to find him.
When she gets to his office, she pushes open the door, and sees the lab guards wearing the uniform of the FFP! Which, wow, who did background checks on these guys? Probably Jamal, who is also here:
Even Jamal had on the despicable clothes, the beret at a jaunty angle on his head. Braided epaulets, which signified a high-ranking officer, decorated his shoulders—the same shoulders upon which she’d often laid her head.
NO WAY! It’s not like he says extremist stuff about making a righteous move, or refuses to be with you in public, or got you to spill your dad’s secret experiment plans, or lured you to a dance only to be captured. No one could have seen this coming!
Eden sees the two test subjects bound and gagged in the corner, and if you think that’s enough to make Eden realize that she’s been played, you’re wrong. She asks Jamal what’s going on, and he grins wildly as he tells her that she’s just in time!
“Squeaky” and “Giant” suddenly enter the room, and Jamal reveals that they are his friends, and that Bramford ruined his plan by magically showing up to rescue Eden.
She gets all sad that he’s not going to marry her, and that he’s never actually seen the “real Eden”. She tries to leave, but predictably, Jamal and co are planning on using Eden as a hostage to coerce her dad into. . .something.
Eden asks who Jamal is.
And here is his answer:
“I am the People,” Jamal replied matter-of-factly. “The Federation of Free People is taking back what greed-suckers like Bramford owe us. With your father’s technology we’ll be in control of everything.”
Yes. It’s all but explicitly stated, the FFP are COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARIES. Complete with berets!
Eden isn’t having any of it though, and Jamal starts sounding like a regular SJW:
“For Earth’s sake, this isn’t political. It’s about science.”
“Everything is political. The population is controlled by doped oxy and emotionally driven campaigns so the super rich like Bramford can skim cream off the top. Same old story.”
So Jamal actually has a point. Bramford does exploit his workers, and is set to reap all the monetary rewards while the very man who invented the profitable technology will probably continue to face oppression.
Even Eden has to acknowledge that Jamal has a point:
Eden couldn’t really argue with that. But who was to say a new regime wouldn’t also abuse their power?
So now I think that the FFP is supposed to be analogous to, like, Al-Qaeda: ideologically driven with a few legitimate grievances (in that a lot of anti-US sentiment is driven by the adverse effects of US foreign policy/military action on citizens in that region) but genuinely terrifying.
While Eden protests that her father will make Bramford use the technology responsibly, Jamal goes on to explain why that’s bullshit:
“You see how the boss treats him. Same as he treats you and everyone else—like objects not people. And don’t pretend you don’t agree because I know you do.”
Wait, I thought that the FFP hates white people? There are a few reasons that Victoria Foyt totally failed at pulling this off this whole social-commentary thing:
- Our introduction to the FFP is that they’re known for abducting and murdering white people. This makes it seem as though they’re a hate/terrorist group more akin to the KKK in that they are driven by the urge to uphold their society’s racial hierarchy.
- Now we are told that they are a Leftist group motivated by perceived economic injustice, and want to destroy the system. A high-ranking officer says that a capitalists treats white people (among others) “like objects, not people.” Which makes it sound like the FFP is sympathetic to the plight of white people. So why are they killing them?
Now, I’m not saying that it’s inconceivable that a Leftist revolutionary could believe in race realism/a Master Race/whatever, but, like, what is the FFP’s goal? Seriously? What’s their mission statement?
It’s almost like Victoria Foyt decided that their motivation is whatever suits the plot at the given moment, but who would write something like that?
Anyway, Eden finally realizes that Jamal’s been using her to learn about her father’s research. While she feels hurt, Jamal explains what he thinks Bramford’s plan is, and boy, how the fuck did he get this idea?
Basically, Jamal thinks that Bramford decided to be the subject because he “fears a takeover.” That is a really stupid reason to decide to be the subject. We know for a fact that Bramford is one of the super-elite. If he suspects a subversive presence in his staff, why not call law-enforcement and open an investigation? Jamal even told him that the FFP had hacked his security system. Even if Jamal’s speculation turned out to be true, that’s sheer luck. No one in their right mind would act as Bramford’s acting.
Second, Jamal thinks that as soon as Bramford is changed into a Catman, Bramford will destroy the lab and kill Eden’s dad, so that he alone can be a Catman. Which. . .what kind of insane troll logic is this?
Eden gets super scared because if the FFP all turn into Catmen, they can rule the world, and she thinks that it will herald the beginning White Genocide (a literal white genocide, not interracial marriage).
Jamal says that Eden and her father will be spared, as he gently caresses Eden’s cheek. But Eden says that she’s rather die than be his mate. He’s all “bitch, please, I’m marrying Ashina” (who was the bitchy coworker from chapters 1&2).
For some reason, Eden is shocked:
Jamal and that bitch were in cahoots? Eden felt humiliated as she imagined them laughing at her behind her back. And doing things that true mates did. What a fool she’d been.
I’m guessing “doing things that true mates did” is code for “fucking?” You’ll see later that this book verges on being furry erotica, so Foyt’s coyness here is honestly laughable.
The chapter ends as Eden says that she hates Jamal, and he just laughs at her and tells her that she’s still stuck with them.