When a friend introduced me to this series my mind skipped it, probably intentionally. This is a lot of WTF going on here.
Now before I get started in on this, in all fairness I'll admit that I haven't read the book. I'm not sure that I want to, as the premise sounds like something out of a bad 70s film. I might give it a try, depending on how my friend John reviews it. He's my go-to guy for potentially bad books.
But what is Save the Pearls, you ask? Put bluntly, it's a book where a post-apocalyptic future where solar radiation has killed off all of the white people. The remaining whites (called "pearls" in the book) are ruled over by dark skinned people (called "coals") and survive by donning blackface. Our book's heroine is of course a white girl, and of course she's the world's hope for survival. And our little pearl falls in love with a coal. Whom Foyt describes as a "beast-man".
I shit you not, that's the premise.
If you think that this sounds intentionally or unintentionally racist, you're not alone. A good portion of the people who heard the premise of Pearls has thought the same thing, with some posting negative reviews on Amazon saying as much.
I don't necessarily think that Foyt set out for her book to be racist and she claims that the book is supposed to be anti-racist and a "message of love and hope for the planet and for all men". It's just that in her writing she seems to be oblivious to how naive and ignorant her claims of "not seeing race" really is and how the book appears to pretty much most of its target audience. (I include adults in this as YA isn't just for teens nowadays.) To me this shows that you have a book that was written by a woman who is largely clueless of what the current issues in the world are for many people with skin color that isn't a shade of Caucasian. This is a woman who assumes that her son seeing her skin as tan (remember, she's a white woman) means that he doesn't see colors, a person who assumes that white people can sometimes pass for black simply by tinting their skin. This is actually the most offensive part of it all: that a white woman assumes that saying she isn't racist makes the book not racist. She's just that completely and utterly unaware of how bad it is that everyone is named after a gemstone of some sort... except for African-Americans, who are named after coal, are portrayed as "beast-men", and a whole slew of other stuff that makes me cringe.
Even if we were to ignore the cluelessness, then we have questions over the huge plot holes in the book. Why is it that only white people are affected by the solar rays? Dark skinned people get sunburn too, you know. If they're that weak that only the lily white people die off then odds are that the solar rays would be avoidable by people managing to stay, y'know... inside. Out of the sun. Or only coming out at night.
Also, if the dark skinned people are the people in charge then why refer to them as "coals"- a term that has already been used by others in a racist manner? Why would the dominant people refer to themselves as "coal" while the whites are referred to as "pearls"? Even if it's supposed to be a derogatory term, why would they refer to the "hated" color as a semi-precious object while they refer to themselves as well, coal? Why not have them call themselves "ebonies" while the white people are referred to as something other than a desired jewelry object? Or better yet, why not just forego the whole term thing and just refer to them by their skin colors? It would be a little more awkward, but not nearly as awkward and inexplicable as the whole "pearl" and "coal" thing.
Really the most offensive thing is Foyte's cluelessness, something that becomes painfully apparent in the free preview on Amazon. I might actually read a copy of this via Netgalley because this looks like it could be entertaining in its unintentional racism and cluelessness.
I just have to say that at one point Foyt was patting herself on the back for the book not initially getting any protest or complaints. I think that's less because people were accepting of how she wrote the book and more because they were busy trying to pick their jaws up off the flow.
*Today In Racism: YA Series “Save The Pearls” Employs Offensive Blackface And Bizarre Racist Stereotypes Plot
*Just read the first chapter of Save the Pearls, Revealing Eden…
*Save the Pearls on Amazon
*Official StP site
*Official StP facebook page