Apologies this recap’s delay. Shit in real life got busy.
Previously, on Save the Pearls: The Crew landed in the Amazon, and Bramford was greeted as a Aztec Jaguar Messiah by the Huaorani, who are native to the Amazon. Somehow Eden and her father didn’t spontaneously combust when they stepped into the equatorial sunlight. Now, they’re off to “La Zona Intangibale” which is bafflingly translated to mean “No-Man’s Land.”
A few hours have passed since the last chapter, and Eden is trying to relax. She’s not very successful:
For hours they’d driven past miles of mud-baked shanties and desolate fields with an occasional tree or small rodent scurrying past. Not a living soul appeared.
Sounds like the entire world has dried up, huh?
Next she complains about how dusty it is, and tells us how sweaty and gross she feels.
Finally, we get onto what should be most pressing on her mind:
Eden considered a sunburned patch on her thigh with numb desperation. Had her white blood cells shouted an alarm? Hurry to the defense. Still, it would be a losing battle. She might last a week or two before she got The Heat.
I am still utterly baffled as to what the solar radiation level is supposed to look like. I think The Heat is supposed to be skin cancer, because back in chapter 3/4/whatever, she inspects her skin for any weird moles. I’d theorize that The Heat is actually a government-invented disease created to keep control over the masses, but there is no indication that this is the case, if I recall correctly. Oh well.
Eden glares at Bramford:
The beast seemed to enjoy the ride. His broad back and alert posture reminded her of a big cat attuned to subtle signs. Signs Eden couldn’t read without her Life-Band, thanks to him.
“Technology is Bad” is ironically a big theme of this novel, fun fact. There’s a lot of romanticizing nature and the Huaorani are straight-up a bunch of Noble Savages in this novel, so get ready for that.
Thinking about her lack of Life-Band, Eden feels around in her backpack hoping to feel one. Then she thinks about Bramford’s asian bodyguard:
Once more she thought of Shen, whose Chinese name meant strong spirit. It was an odd choice in a soulless world. If only Eden could connect with him, she just hoped he’d live up to his name.
This is such a bizarre tangent. Giving your kid a name meaning “strong spirit” (let’s just take her world for it) in a spiritless world is no weirder than naming your kid “Eden” in a religion-less world. And how does Eden even know what Shen’s name means in Chinese? And what does having a name meaning “strong spirit” even have to do with answering a phone call? None of it makes sense if you think about it at all.
Eden hopes that if/when she manages to contact Shen, he’ll be able to convince Bramford to send her home. She thinks about how her father has always told her to be patient, and then we get another little flashback to when she was six and her dad was teaching her Science:
But she’d botched her first DNA analysis by adding a twenty-fourth pair of chromosomes. It was the first time he voiced his simple philosophy.
His philosophy is to Wait and See. For what? For progress. Eden remembers him smiling, and then recounting the story of how Einstein didn’t have a glamorous job as a university professor but how his job as a patent clerk allowed him to work on his world-changing theories.
So I think the implication here is that Eden’s fuckup inspired her dad to create CatMan? I don’t know. It’s just more fortune-cookie philosophy.
Eden spends more time ruminating about how badly the world’s treated her, and how Jamal was a fuckboi, and realizes that it was fucking obvious that he had been playing her the entire time. No shit.
The Huaorani/Bramford/Eden/Dr. Dad arrive at a tiny little shitty encampment, and we’re told about how the kids look sick and malnourished and there are drunk dudes passed out on garbage heaps. Is this La Zona Intangible? I honestly don’t remember.
Oh, and they’re listening to gangsta rap.
An antique boombox filled the air with pounding music, each beat twisting the knot in Eden’s head tighter. The fast, driving spoken lyrics told a gruesome talk of violence and revenge. A typical example of man’s headlong race to destruction in the late twentieth century. If only they had understood, she thought, staring at the blighted environment.
I honestly don’t get what the connection between rap and global warming, but whatever, apparently Snoop Dog is responsible for the apocalypse.
Bramford passes Eden, and checks her out. She does likewise:
She watched him head into a palm grove, mesmerized by the rippling of his muscled back and hips. He moved with the simple grace and powerful confidence of a predator.
BEAST count: 17. Eden thinks about how she wishes she could be as confident in herself, blah blah blah.
So she follows some of her group towards a river, and gets all freaked out when some leaf-cutter ants walk over her feet, and comically falls into a mud puddle. Indigenous children point and laugh, and Eden is happy that Bramford didn’t see her being clumsy. As she tries to clean herself off, she accidentally removes more blackface makeup.
Eden observes the river, and notes that it’s all polluted. It feels very Fern Gully. Isn’t Man just horrible? Etc.
Then Eden sees some of the Huaorani carrying her father towards her. What happens next is hilarious:
A heavy-set warrior pulled a huge leaf, at least nine feet long, from a giant banana tree and laid it next to her on the ground. To Eden’s surprise the men set her father down on the huge leaf. He looked like a fragile baby cradled in a green boat. That was the extent of comfort here–a leaf for a bed.
God, Foyt, is this world barren and infertile or healthy enough to sustain giant banana trees? She never makes this clear.
Dr. Dad takes a moment to explain why the river is all polluted:
“Residue from oil mining,” her father said, indicating the murky water. “My hypothesis is the tribe sold their oil rights long ago, probably for worthless cash. I suspect no one ever explained the consequences.”
This is actually something that has happened, by the way. Very sad. If only Dr. Dad had been there to save them.
Dr. Dad looks pained, but his wholesome scientific mind simply revels in the myriad undiscovered species that probably surround him. Meanwhile, one of the Huaorani brings some food.
It’s. . . Yucca root! Somehow, Dr. Dad also knows all about its preparation. He takes a moment to tell Eden.
“The women chew it up, mix it with water and then spit it out. It’s a complete and nourishing meal.”
Eden thinks “ew, gross.” Dr. Dad tells her that when she’s starving, she’ll eat anything.
Always the failed daughter
Eden thinks. I swear she does nothing but whine and fantasize about Bramford this entire book.
Another Huaorani approaches her. His name? Lorenzo. She likes his eyes, and he offers her some dark green leaves. Eden notices that they’re coca leaves, and Dr. Dad tells her that it’s a cure for altitude sickness and that she should chew them. Eden whines that they’re dirty, and Dr. Dad again explains why Eden is wrong;
“That’s illogical. Your skin provides housing for millions of microbes. Without them you wouldn’t be able to fight any number of diseases.
And, um, no? Just because some bacteria are beneficial doesn’t mean you should take the opportunity to shove them in your mouth every chance you get. You’d think Dr. Dad knows about logical validity, but whatever. He’s just Mr. Spocking it up or something.
Lorenzo leaves, andthen Eden gets worried that they’re crossing the water:
Like any Pearl, Eden was terrified of water, which had the power to expose. She never even had experienced swimming or any other bygone water sport on the World-Band. She’d rather die than ride in the canoe.
I love how her concern isn’t “I’ll drown,” but “It might wash off my negligible remaining makeup if I fall out of the boat.” Her vanity is astounding.
Eden excuses herself to hide behind a tree, and digs through her backpack hoping to find a Life-Band. She doesn’t.
And that’s the end of the chapter! I’m pretty sure literally nothing happened. Once again, I apologize for the delay, but I should have a bit more free time again.