Save the Pearls: Chapter 20 (Or, Never go full BEAST MODE)

 

Previously, on Save the Peals: Eden and Bramford arrived at a Huaorani village. When two young Huaorani girls saw Eden, they repeated the name “Rebecca” way too many times, prompting Eden to ask Bramford WTF they’re talking about. After escalating to accusations of violence, Bramford throws Eden into a dilapidated prison hut. Eden decides that she will remain calm and collected in an attempt to “tame him”.

Continue reading “Save the Pearls: Chapter 20 (Or, Never go full BEAST MODE)”

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Save the Pearls: Chapter 19 (Or, El Tigre es bienvenido a esta casa)

Previously on Save the Pearls: Eden rode on Bramford’s shoulders while he ran back to his Huaorani friends. Nothing happened except more awkward eroticism and hostility between our leads.

So Chapter 19 begins a few hours after where chapter 18 left off. Eden is super tired. But not too tired to recall the obscure scientific names of jungle-dwelling fauna, as she hears the call of the great tinamou, or Tinamus Major:

It was a nocturnal bird, which meant twenty-four hours had passed since she had left home.

Good god. First, I’d like to point out that Eden could have been able to tell that it was nearing sundown by the fact that the sun would be going down, thus altering the light and everything. Second, it’s been only 24 hours? Eden says that it feels more like a lifetime, and I have to agree. Maybe it’s because I took a couple month-long hiatuses (hiati?) but it does feel like it should have been more than that.

But fortunately for Eden, she and Bramford appear to be approaching a settlement, because he finds a small path. This leads to a small clearing, and Eden is able to witness her first sunset. She waxes poetic about how it’s beautiful, and it makes her feel “humbled by its perfection, though not in a submissive way”?

Because if something so beautiful existed in the world, the maybe some part of her also held such beauty

I’d talk about how that makes no sense, but Eden’s delirious so whatever. I’ll let her have this one.

But then, a “young Indian woman” appears! Eden is delighted, thinks that it’s a “lucky coincidence,” and hopes that she’ll get some water and food soon.

The woman greets them by saying “hola.” If you’ll remember, this Amazonian tribe speaks Spanish fluently.

Hola, Maria,” Bramford replied.”

So not only do they speak Spanish; they also have Spanish names! The most stereotypical Spanish names possible!

Maria wore the distinctive bowl-shaped haircut of the Huaorani. A strip of bark-like cloth hung around her wide hips. Her headdress of bright feathers and yellow Oncidium orchids seemed to contrast with her plain voice and mild demeanor.

I don’t know what the fuck the Huaorani wear, but I feel like if they’re speaking Spanish and giving their kids Spanish names, they’re probably not wearing traditional headresses and “bark-like” cloth.

“El Tigre es bienvenido a esta casa”

Which means “The Tiger is welcome in our house” if you don’t know literally any Spanish and don’t feel like googling. Again, if you recall, the Huaorani think that Bramford is the long-awaited Jaguar Man of Aztec legend (none of which makes any sense at all). Bramford thanks her, but then Maria looks uncomfortable when she sees Eden.

If you’ve been missing a plot, well, now we kind of get one! Eden thinks it’s because she’s not wearing her Blackface makeup. But as Maria leads her and Bramford through a gate and onto a “orderly compound”, Bramford begins to  head towards the largest hut.

So Bramford has been here before. Eden thinks he seems familiar with the compound, and is amazed that he hasn’t slapped his name on everything. Eden surveys the rest of the huts: one has no door that she can see, and another looks run-down and overgrown with weeds. She wonders if it’s a prison, and gets all anxious.

But then two little girls (“naked, but for the flowers in their hair”) run out to greet them. A parrot flies after them, and Eden is shocked that it might be a pet. They say hi to Bramford, who says hi back, and then Maria tells them that he’s El Tigre. This excites them.

But then the girls see Eden, and the plot thickens:

“Rebecca,” the older one said, the color draining from her face.

QUE?????

Oh, and Eden is still on Bramford’s shoulders at this point. She feels him get tense.

The little girls say “Rebecca” again, and Eden wonders what it could mean.

Did they mean her? Was it the native name for some white-skinned animal? Whatever the reason, Eden understood that she terrified them. Not beastly Bramford. Just the ugly Pearl.

Because *everything* is about race with Eden. I get that she’s been an oppressed underclass all her life, but jesus fuck, she can’t go a pages without saying something self-loathing.

The girls say “Rebecca!” over and over, which agitates Bramford. He starts shaking, and then roars. He drops Eden into a vegetable garden. Maria tells off the kids is “a dialect Eden didn’t recognize” which I guess means the Huaorani language *is* a thing that exists in this book? Whatever. The girls keep saying Rebecca, and the parrot squacks, and Bramford keeps roaring.

Eden asks Bramford who Rebecca is. Bramford crouches menacingly, and glares.

The name had struck a neve in him. If she said it again, he might make her pay. He might grab her with those big, rough hands and pin her down.

Wow. It sure sounds like that’s something she’d like to avoid.

But Eden “can’t help herself.”

“For Earth’s sake, Bramford. What did you do to this Rebecca to make the children so afraid?”

Could she possibly ask who Rebecca is in a more inflammatory way? Does Victoria Foyt seriously think that Eden is remotely sympathetic? Who writes this?

“Just as she feared”, Bramford jumps on her, and while you might think this would make her happy, she is not! Instead, she screams in terror. Bramford throws her over his shoulder, and then runs towards the “prison hut”. Eden screams that he can’t do this to her, and Bramford says oh yes he can.  Eden starts hitting Bramford, and says more provocative things:

“Is this where you lock up your victims? You’re an animal, Bramford.”

And, I mean, Bramford hasn’t exactly been the most gentle tour guide, but christ, Eden does not understand de-escalation at all.

Bramford tells her that she’s done enough, and pushes her into the hut. First, though, he throws “a handful of nuts and berries on the floor.” So I guess he was stealthily harvesting them as they ran, or something. I don’t know.

Oh and as an aside, the “prison hut” is supposed to be worn down and overgrown. Wouldn’t you want your holding cell to be well-maintained? God dammit.

But its condition must be good enough, because Bramford locks her into the hut, leaving her to cry for help. Meanwhile, the little girls are still calling out “Rebecca!” over and over.

Just like at the lab, Bramford had confined her to her quarters.

In case you’ve forgotten what Eden’s talking about here, she’s referencing that time she got put on probation at work and was officially not allowed out. If you recall, it was later revealed that Bramford had suspended her for her own good, as she was supposed to be safe at her apartment while FFP drama was going down at the lab. In-book, this took place literally a little bit more than a day ago, so Eden’s memory is actually the worst.

Anyway, Eden keeps thinking about how Bramford’s the beast and how he should be the one locked up, and then she starts to cry for the first time ever. We’re told that even when her mom died she didn’t cry, because she had her Oxy. But then she thinks about how her mom knew about how evil Big Pharma is, and recalls how on her deathbed, her mother refused the Oxy-drip.

We learn that her dying mother’s tears had “embarassed” Eden (isn’t she a peach!). Eden remembers how her father “hadn’t hid his displeasure,” and spent all his time in the lab. I’d like to point out that it’s a completely valid reading to assume that her father was displeased because his wife was dying, and spent his time at the lab trying to discover a cure, but this never occurs to Eden. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to believe her interpretation or not.

We’re still in flashback mode, as Eden remembers her mother smiling despite the pain, and explain how she had hope for the afterlife. Eden’s response was this:

Years earlier, Eden had undergone the mandatory death experience and knew to expect only a calm black void..

Mandatory death experience. If you don’t believe in any sort of afterlife, I’d like to point out that “death experience” is a contradiction, because being dead would be the end of experience, rather than “a calm black void.”

But Eden’s mom is feeling hopeful and expresses it via, you guessed it, an Emily Dickinson poem!

‘Hope is the ting with feathers/ That perches in the soul, /And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all.’

Eden doesn’t get it:

Nonsense, Eden now thought, brushing away her tears. For example, to which species of bird did Aunt Emily refer?

*makes CinemaSins ding noise*

OK, so I honestly can’t tell if Eden’s just being stupid on purpose, or if she legitimately doesn’t understand poetry. I’m inclined to assume the former, since she seems to really like most of Emily Dickinson’s poetry to the point where she’s memorized it and uses it to understand her world. So is this supposed to just be a situational rejection of “Aunt Emily?” I’m really confused.

But then Eden starts thinking about Bramford and how sexy he is. She wants him to touch her again, and wants to hear his “sensual purring”.

Could a little bird called hope possibly sing for her?

It’s such a shitty, saccharine line, but if it means that Eden will be less intolerable, I’ll fucking take it. So let’s take bets: will Eden become less antagonistic about towards the people around her? Will she try to be more positive, and make an effort to get along with Bramford better? It sure seems like she wants to make a change somehow.

Also, she realizes that Bramford has magnanimously left her some food, which I assume is the “handful of nuts and berries” he threw on the floor at her a few pages ago.

It suggested that his mind was still more powerful than his raw emotions.

Umm, OK? I would say that it suggests that he’s, you know, still aware that she’s gonna need to eat, but come on. He didn’t exactly pack her a nice little balanced lunch. It seems like he gets pretty emotional, what with the pinning Eden to the ground and throwing her in the Time-Out-Shack.

But for some reason, this makes Eden think that she can use Logic and Reason ™ to “tame the primative creature”.

No matter how wild he became, she would remain cool and objective. She wouldn’t give in to the base emotions that threatened to swamp her logic.

As much as I would love for Eden to experience some character growth, I can say with certainty that the odds that she follows through on this are precisely zero.

And that’s the end of the chapter!

 

Save the Pearls: Chapter 18 (or, More of the same)

Previously, on Save the Pearls: After being swept away from camp by a river, Eden and Bramford snuggled, then insulted each other, and then Bramford put Eden on his shoulders so she could ride him back to the rest of their party.

So the chapter opens with Eden still perched on top of Bramford:

The mysterious maze of the jungle swallowed Eden into its dark, forbidding folds. Like craggy monsters, an army of trees reached for her.

Which is predictable, since, you know, she is sitting on the shoulders of a hulking 6+ foot tall Catman.

So Eden is all disoriented, but she thinks about how Bramford will protect her since he’s a “mighty predator”, and that makes her feel better. But then she worries out loud that the Huaorani will leave without them, or something. Bramford tells her to STFU because he’s trying to navigate, and she’s surprised he doesn’t know the way back exactly. When she expresses this, Bramford replies like this:

“Shhh!” He pinched her thigh.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the equivalent of the Dog Whisperer’s “Tsch!” or a kinky barely-restrained bit of corporal punishment. Eden yelps in pain, though, and Bramford yells at her to be quiet!

Eden stared at the large hand that gripped her legs and fumed. Some predator.

And this just adds to my confusion. Was the aggressive pinch supposed to be weaksauce or a show of manly dominance? Because it really sounds like Eden is unimpressed.

But Bramford’s pinching game increases after Eden gets some cobwebs stuck in her hair and screams:

Each time she made a noise, Bramford squeezed her again. In return, she groaned. From despair or pleasure, she couldn’t say.

This is seriously the worst road trip game ever.

I guess Eden stops whining though, because next we get a few paragraphs of imagery. Now that Eden’s eyes have adjusted to the dark of the jungle, she sees all sorts of things, including:

Masses of sensuous orchids wrapped their spindly roots around tree trunks. Their passionate colors and exotic smells amazed her.

So, um, yeah. The jungle itself is a virile symbol of fucking.

She also sees some monkeys, and wonders if they’re judging her for being white.

Nothing continues to happen: Eden thinks about how steamy the jungle is (compared to the dry heat of the underground tunnels), and gets all sweaty. As she gets thirsty, Bramford hands her the water gourd, which I think is supposed to show how intuitively connected they are.

At each mysterious croak from the dark recesses, Eden pressed her knees tight against Bramford’s neck. Her fears drove her to cling to him. To her delight, a soft, low murmur rumbled through him. It washed over her, calming her anxiety and yet, arousing her desire.

This is clearly supposed to be hot. If you think it’s hot, well, you do you. But let’s remember that Bramford is charging through the jungle at top-speed, and Eden is SQUEEZING HIS NECK WITH HER THIGHS. It just sounds distracting, and a little bit dangerous. It’s just not the time or place for erotic asphyxiaation.

So then Eden’s all like “why am I feeling this way?” and thinks Bramford is “as mysterious as this jungle.” And she angsts about how can she ever trust anyone again after Jamal’s betrayal?

Some parrots take off, and Eden worries that there’s something lurking nearby. Bramford sniffs the air, and tells her that there’s a storm coming. Eden asks how he knows, and Bramford tells her that the jungle has quieted down and that the temperature has dropped. Then he condescendingly asks Eden if she can feel it. Eden says that she’s not getting data anymore (as she no longer has her life-band).  Bramford’s response to this is really bizarre:

“Before you would have noticed the signs.” [ . . .] “About a million years ago, when you looked something like me.”

  1. First, I just love how Bramford seems to have forgotten that like two days ago, he was also a lowly human living in an underground dystopia city.
  2.  Does Bramford think humans evolved from panther/snake/eagle hybrids?
  3. And  Bramford doesn’t even need to go back a million years to find a time when humans would have been more attuned to nature. I feel like his Huaorani pals would probably be similarly aware of environmental changes, and they’re modern humans.

Eden asks Bramford what he means:

“Like you?”

Even uglier than now? And yet, Bramford wasn’t ugly, was he? He was raw and sexy. Maybe she wouldn’t have looked so bad.

Eden 1mil BC.jpg

lol.

Bramford affirms Eden’s inner monologue:

“I bet you would have been one hell of a she-cat.”

Does Victoria Foyt not realize that humans didn’t evolve from jungle cats?

So some lightening flashes overhead, and some thunder rumbles. Eden gets freaked out, which is understandable, when you consider that she’s lived underground for her entire life and has therefore never had to deal with weather.

But no, it’s not the weather itself that’s freaking Eden out:

The lack of weather alerts from her sensors unnerved her.

Did she get weather alerts while living underground? Why? Did the author think literally anything through before typing it out?

So Bramford laughs, and Eden again laments the loss of her Life-Band. Bramford tells her that if she just watches and listens, she won’t need a Life-Band, and that her “basic instincts” can tell her everything she needs to know.

Because reading environmental cues is instinctive, and not learned, or anything.  If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a very strong Noble Savage/anti-technology thing going on in this novel that only gets worse from here.

Eden thinks that Bramford’s  brand-new genome might be giving him a leg up on perceiving small changes in the environment (which, I don’t think she’s wrong there). And then for some reason, she thinks about how Emily Dickinson was a shut-in, which reminds her of a poem:

To make a prairie it takes a clover

and one bee,—

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few.

But, Eden tells us, she doesn’t have a very good imagination because of all the Oxy she’s been doing her whole life.

Yeah, I don’t get what any of that has to do with noticing subtle environmental signs.

But Eden starts brainstorming (for some reason), and imagines herself and Bramford as a “half-natural-Pearl, half-beastly-Coal” centaur. This makes her laugh. Bramford asks her what’s funny, and she tells him that he would never understand. Because I guess rich, cultured Black people don’t know standard mythological creatures in this universe?

But so even though Eden tells Bramford that he wouldn’t understand, I guess he actually was supposed to beg her to enlighten him as to what was so funny:

He didn’t even pry. The selfish beast simply dropped the subject and ignored her.

How rude, I guess? You know that if he had asked her to explain what a centaur is, Eden would have complained about how pushy and obnoxious he is.

Eden fumes about how they’re nothing alike at all, but then it begins to rain. This cools her off, but also gives us this unfortunate line:

Soon, her perch grew wet. Bramford caught her waist as soon as she began to slip.

And I’m not even sure if that’s supposed to be innuendo.

So then Eden starts back on the “wow he’s so in-tune with me”  thing (despite having just thought about what a dick he was), and wonders if she can become as in-sync with him as he is with her. For some reason, this makes her want to “run her hands along his face,” and:

She clung to him, pressing her hips against the back of his neck.

So basically she’s just grinding on him right now, which is so, so unattractive to me. But Bramford likes it: he starts breathing harder and stumbles.

At this, Eden offers to walk, thinking he’s getting tired. So much for reading Bramford’s body language, I guess. But then Bramford gets offended, and snaps at her, and the two get back to their adorable dynamic where they insult and accuse one another of ulterior motives. This again escalates to physical roughness: Bramford grabs Eden by the waist, and she raises her hand to slap him. He catches her hand, and tells her that this is his world now and he can see everything.

But the chapter ends, as Eden thinks:

Really? Could he also see her absurd attraction to his beastly self?

I’m fairly sure he can, because she is not subtle about it at all.

And yes, this makes two chapters in a row that are basically just alternating between feeling utter loathing and firey passion without contributing anything to the plot.

Save the Pearls: Chapter 16 (Or, Sexy Slapstick!)

Lol, remember when I said I’d be updating more regularly? I lied. Oh well.

Previously, on Save the Pearls: Eden arrived at a shitty little village where indigenous Amazonian tribespeople speak Spanish. She thought about how rap music heralded humanity’s downfall, and threw a tantrum about the gross food. Her dad was condescending, and Eden sneaked away to check if by some miracle a Life-Band was smuggled into her luggage.

Continue reading “Save the Pearls: Chapter 16 (Or, Sexy Slapstick!)”

Save the Pearls: Chapter 5 (or, And You Thought Those Other Chapters Were Bad)

Previously, on Save the Pearls: Eden and Jamal almost fucked holograpically, but then Eden’s heart-rate was too high so they didn’t. Jamal did some shady stuff, and Eden thought about how he was totally going to marry her. Jamal invites her to the Moon Dance, and then leaves after she accepts. Finally, the FFP prank-called Eden for the lulz, I think?

Continue reading “Save the Pearls: Chapter 5 (or, And You Thought Those Other Chapters Were Bad)”

Save the Pearls: Chapter 3 (or, In Which Victoria Foyt Butchers Biology, Economics, Sociology, and more!)

Previously, on Save the Pearls: Having been swarmed by a mob of angry black people, Eden attempts to flee, but she’s not very spatially endowed so instead of escaping from the horde, she smacked right into her sexy, beast-like boss, Ronson Bramford. Although Eden expressed severe dislike of this man, he seemed to go easier on her than she anticipated. Furthermore, we learn that Eden is in a secret relationship with the Head of Security, Jamal, and hopes that he’ll choose to “mate” with her. Ultimately, Eden was put on probation for failing at work, but otherwise emerged unharmed. Also, Jamal said that they would have a hot date!

Continue reading “Save the Pearls: Chapter 3 (or, In Which Victoria Foyt Butchers Biology, Economics, Sociology, and more!)”

New sporking: Save the Pearls by Victoria Foyt

A few years ago, a novel came out and attracted some controversy. It was called Save the Pearls.

Because I haven’t actually read the novel yet, I will copy/paste the summary on the copyright page:

Summary: In a post-apocalyptic world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, 17-year-old Eden, a lowly Pearl cursed with white skin, and facing death if she doesn’t mate soon, unwittingly compromises her father’s top-secret experiment and escapes to the last patch of rainforest with a beastly man who she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction.

Is it just me, or is the verb “mate” really gross when applied to humans?

And three guesses what the race of the “beastly man” is.

Here’s a link to the book trailer, Blackface included. 

And wew, it has not aged well at all.

Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 21: The World

Well, this is it, folks. The final chapter of Handbook for Mortals: Book 1 of the series is upon us, and it is literally three and a half pages long. Fortunately, we get a teaser chapter that picks up precisely where this one leaves off, so I’ll do them together.   Lol no, sorry, real life stuff got in the way and I wanted to get what I’ve written up today, so the excellent teaser chapter which features a prophecy, implies that Zade is the Chosen One, and is more than a little bit transphobic will be up tomorrow/later tonight(?) After those, though, I’m planning to do some post-mortem essays/analyses/predictions for Book 2 of the series over the next week or so, so check for those if you want.

But, without further ado:

Continue reading “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 21: The World”

Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 20: Judgement

Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: The time finally came for Mac to perform the resurrection ritual, which consisted of tying Zade to a stone table, anointing her with “dragon’s blood,” chanting in what is either Bosnian or Croatian (and, of course some Latin (?)), and stabbing her through the heart with a magical dagger, all while a lightning storm raged around them. After some more hours, Zade regained consciousness and everyone felt lots of things.

This is the penultimate chapter, everyone! And it’s short!

Continue reading “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 20: Judgement”

Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 18: The Chariot (Part One)

Previously on Handbook for Mortals: Dela detailed the meeting between herself and Charles in the 1970’s, and boy did things get sexist! That’s literally it.

And before we start, I am once again splitting this one up into two parts. While it’s not as long as chapter 15, this first half is a slog. EDIT! IT’S ALL A SLOG! By which I mean it’s not laughably bad, for the most part, but it’s still a long way from being outright good.

Now, you might have thought that the end of Dela and Charles’ meeting might have been the natural conclusion to that story. But nope! It turns out that the only reason Dela stopped there was because Mac finished his iced tea (which, we’re told, was served in a mason jar!) and made a loud slurpy sound. This prompts Dela to offer him more, which brings Mac back to reality after being deeply absorbed in the riveting, totally relevant story. After accepting, Mac thinks about how enlightening Dela’s story was–in regards to Charles’ history.

Continue reading “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 18: The Chariot (Part One)”