Previously on Save the Pearls: Eden was hankering for a Life-Band, and she harassed the flight attendant Daisy into telling her where they were going. The answer? THE AMAZON. Also she had rape fantasies about Bramford, etc. You know the drill.
Are you sick of chapters that consist of repetitive conflicts on an airplane? Well, you’re in luck because this chapter opens as the hypersonic airplane-thing lands.
Oh, and remember how the solar radiation is so powerful that can give you skin cancer even if you live underground for your entire life? Here’s Eden’s thoughts on having to brave it:
Outside, the day waited for her, a bright, suffocating prison. There would be no muted grays in which to hide and become invisible.
Good on her for being incredibly wary about exposure to daylight! But isn’t it strange that her main worry about it isn’t the instant-skin-cancer? I mean, her concern is that there’s not enough shade to sulk in.
Can this book get any worse? Eden doesn’t think so, but, like us, she’s wrong:
She didn’t think things could get any worse, when the welcoming committee came into view. A half-dozen, short, muscular Indians wearing a rag-tag assortment of clothes stood by a line of ancient, all-terrain vehicles. Machetes hung from several of the men’s belts, glinting in the sunlight. Some had long, wooden poles slung over their shoulders. Despite fanciful feathers tucked into simple bowl-cut hairstyles, the warriors appeared fierce.
Yep, you read that right. Bramford. Eden, Daisy, and Dr. Dad ARE BEING GREETED BY AN INDIGENOUS AMAZONIAN TRIBE.
Yes, last chapter, Eden pointed out that the Amazon river has dwindled to a sad trickle. Yes, last chapter she thought about how barren the Amazon had become.
Yes, despite insta-cancer, this tribe has survived. . .somehow? Yes, they apparently have access to gas or something to power their ATVs.
Oh, and these aren’t just any group of stereotyped tribespeople. No. Victoria Foyt did LITERALLY JUST ENOUGH RESEARCH TO MAKE HER BOOK SUCK MORE.
“The Huarani,” Eden’s father said, excitedly.
Eden asks him to clarify, and he gives a little anthropology crash-course. He explains that they’re “the world’s last independent indigenous tribe”. If you’re wondering how they’ve survived, Dr. Dad also says that “no one knows how or why they survived.” I think it maybe gets shitfully explained by the end? I forget, honestly.
Dr. Dad also explains that they’re holding blowguns full of poison darts, and explains how they would hypothetically function. Then he explains how “Huaorani” means “Person” and “Cowode” means “other.” The Huaorani don’t think of anyone who isn’t Huaorani as human. And indeed, after a quick google, it appears that the IRL Huaorani have such a distinction. Dr. Dad says that they’ll kill anyone who is not Huaorani, which, um, I feel like there’s some nuance missing here but I’ve only spent like an hour googling/watching youtube docs, so I’m far from an expert on these things.
“Maybe they’ll kill Bramford,” she mused. “He’s not human.”
This makes it seem like she’s hoping that’s what happens. I think she is? Because her father looks mad when she says it.
Daisy gives everyone a red backpack branded with the Bramford Industries logo. Eden digs though it, hoping to find a life-band, but she is unsuccessful. Eden hopes that maybe Daisy has stashed one deeper down, or something, and ha ha ha, remember how Eden’s supposed to be smart? Yeah.
Then Eden ogles Bramford because I guess it’s been awhile since she’s checked him out:
A quivering feather floated inside of her, as Bramford stretched to a standing position. Her eyes betrayed her, traveling the length of his body.
BEAST count: 13.
That one was surprisingly tame. Bramford catches her checking him out, and she blushes.
Oh, and apparently they haven’t actually left the plane yet. The time for that has come, however, and she protests. But then Bramford picks her up, and we get some implicitly eroticized language about his “rock hard” shoulders and how even though she yells and pulls his hair he won’t let her go, but that’s not going into the BEAST count because it’s not, like, that bad.
So Eden keeps yelling and screaming as the sunlight hits her (as she should, since it’s probably insta-cancer, even though that doensn’t happen, spoiler), and her dad asks if they should maybe send her back alone. But Bramford is like, no, she’ll totally sell us out. And let’s be real: he’s not wrong.
As Bramford disembarks, Eden is confused about why the Huaorani aren’t murdering him.
Eden took matters into her own hands and pointed to Bramford. “Cowode!”
This is incredibly stupid. Eden’s Cowode, too. Does she think they’ll spare her, assuming her dad’s intel is legit?
Bramford tells her to STFU and presses her face into his chest to muffle her calls to violence. This is a total turn-on.
The incredibly wonderful feel of his warm body—not a Holo-Image, but a real, live body—stunned her. She registered the sensation of his arms around her bare thighs and shoulders. Pressing her cheek against his hard chest, she heard his heart beat against her ear—alive.
BEAST count: 14.
The whiplash is exhausting. Seriously. And these constant revelations that Bramford is super hot are getting harder and harder to mock without becoming redundant, but they’re all so bad:
Eden’s world stopped. Her joints loosened, her heart felt expansive, even her mind stretched to find Bramford remarkably appealing.
Oh, he’s only “remarkably appealing” now? Well then what were all those other remarks about how sexy he was? Like, she’s admitted that she finds him attractive several times. And yet her mind’s only stretching now?
At the same time, she became aware of a dangerous, inescapable abyss opening up inside of her. If she gave into her feelings, she might be lost forever.
BEAST count: 15. God, this is so dramatic. “Lost forever?” What even does that mean in this context? Like, if she fucks Bramford, so what? I don’t get what’s at stake here.
Eden begs Bramford to put her down. And fortunately, if you’ve found sexy cat man excerpts to be getting stale, we’ve got a new vein of horrible and offensive writing to mine:
Then a loud cry rose up from the Huaorani. Unbelievably, they fell to their knees and began to chant in ecstatic voices.
“El Tigre! El Tigre!”
Yes, the Huaorani think Bramford is a god.
Yes, the Huaorani are speaking Spanish.
Yes, Victoria Foyt thought that this was publishable.
Eden thinks about how Bramford is all arrogant, but let’s get to the most laughably stupid part of this chapter that is so wrong in so many ways:
Her father peered out the cabin door, quickly assessing the situation. “They think you’re El Tigre, the Jaguar Man. Imagine, the long-awaited Aztec God.
First of all:
So, um, no? Like, how can you even be this stupid? Why the fuck are an Amazonian tribe worshipping (allegedly) AZTEC gods?
Second: EL TIGRE? The Jaguar Man? Jesus fuck, this is still horrible. There is a jaguar god in the Aztec Pantheon, whose name is Tezcatlipoca. So let’s assume that this Amazonian tribe is worshipping an Aztec god. Why are they calling him “El Tigre” instead of the Huaorani word for “jaguar?”
Third: “the long-awaited” Aztec God? Really? There is no prophecized return of Tezcatlipoca, at least according to Wikipedia. While there’s this popular idea about another Aztec god’s return (Quetzalcoatl, a feathered snake), even that is disputed.
Fourth: The IRL Huaorani do seem to hold jaguars in high reverance: In an actual book by who I think is an actual scholar (Huaorani of the Western Snippet by Aleksandra Wierucka. You can take a look at it in Google Books), there are descriptions of Huaorani shamans astral-projecting or something with Jaguar friends (or something, I took only a cursory look). Foyt knows this, as this is mentioned later on. So why add in this “prophecized Aztec Jaguar Man” bullshit? Seriously? Just so he can literally be worshipped?
Now, the tribesmen looked at her with equal reverence.
“See, Daught?” her father added. “You’re divine by association with El Tigre.”
Eden just got promoted to goddess. Fuck I hate this book.
She takes a paragraph to grumble about how horrible and arrogant Bramford is. He rips off his shirt, and for a second I actually thought that Foyt was going to pass up this opportunity to sexualize him. But then I turned the page:
In spite of her disgust, Eden’s eyes riveted on his broad, dark chest that gleamed in the sunlight. Even the molecules of air seemed to fall away from his powerful physique.
I don’t even get what Foyt means about the “molecules of air seeming to fall away.” Is Eden hallucinating or something? I don’t think so. I think Foyt was just running out of ways to descibe her thrist for Cat-Guy.
Maybe he did deserve to be worshiped, she admitted.
BEAST count: 16. And yeah, once again the whiplash is intense. Like, I think Eden might actually have some kind of personality disorder where she rapidly shifts between loathing and idolizing people moment-to-moment. It’s truly exhausting.
Eden takes the opportunity to quote “Aunt Emily’s” poem, I’m Nobody! Who are you? And it’s completely pointless except to remind us that because Eden remembers poetry, she’s smart.
Bramford puts Eden on an ATV, and her father joins her. She tries to maneuver into the shade, but her father doesn’t seem too worried about it. Instead, he just tells more lies:
“Incredible,” he said. “The Huaorani have waited since 3,000 B.C. for the Jaguar Man to save them.”
Dr. Dad says that Bramford’s supposed to “appease the Spirit World,” whatever that means. Again, the existence of a “world of spirits” in the Huaorani spiritual tradition (which is animistic, if you didn’t guess), so while this is horrible and awful a egregious, Foyt has done exactly enough research to get a tiny bit of something right, and then just make shit up. Is there an actual reason she didn’t just make up her own Inca/Aztec/Maya/Indian tribe so that she could actually not be insulting an existing culture? It would still be offensive, but it would be better than making up mythology for a people who actually exist.
Dr. Dad muses about how weird and wacky believing in spirits may seem to Westerners, but, he argues:
“Often, sometimes centuries later, science validates folk wisdom. The Indians believe the great shaman will fly into the spirit world by embodying the jaguar in form and spirit.”
nooooooo I’m pretty sure this isn’t what people mean when they talk about science validating spiritual beliefs, like i think what people mean is like when spiritual types talk about chakras blocking energy which results in physical illness and then science showing that mental health issues can have manifest physically im pretty sure theyre not like saying science is gonna oneday discover that jesus is actually gonna rapture everyone fuck i am broken somebody send help
Eden says that she thinks they’re too late to save anyone, since like the entire Amazon has died off or something. then she thinks about how Jamal was right about Bramford just being power-hungry. Dr. Dad tells her to give it some time. He says that today is the happiest day of his life, and then Eden of course takes the chance to complain about how he doesn’t love her.
Finally, Bramford leaps onto an ATV, and says:
“Vamos a la Zona Intangible.”
Because the Huaorani speak Spanish, of course.
Eden asks her dad what Bramford says, and he tells her they’re going to “No Man’s Land.”
And while you might be thinking that Eden’s afraid of getting skin cancer, or having shelter, or living with a strange and foreign people, she’s not. Instead:
Exactly what she most feared: now she’d never find anyone to mate.
THIS IS LITERALLY THE FIRST WE’VE HEARD ABOUT THIS IN SEVERAL CHAPTERS. Also, now that she’s not living in Racism-Dystopia land, why is that even a huge issue?
I hate this book i hate this book i hate this book.