Title: Revealing Eden
Author: Victoria Foyt
Genre: young-adult, post-apocalyptic, dystopia
Series: Save the Pearls #1
Pages: 307 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: January 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she'll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she's cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%?
In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden's coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she'll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father's secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity's last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her "adopted aunt" Emily Dickinson.
Revealing Eden has the benefit of containing one of the most original premises I've come across for a melding of both post-apocalytpic and dystopic fiction into a young-adult novel. It's such a shame that such a great premise was not delivered upon. Eden is a difficult protagonist - one it's hard to root for, empathize with or even read for an extended amount of time. I was hooked by the idea of reading a novel about a racially constructed dystopia - that's the only reason I was drawn to this, honestly - but instead of a struggle for equality, I got a meandering book about a Jaguar Man and a lousy romance. This is not a novel I would recommend for anyone searching out a dystopia/post-apocalyptic novel. There are so many in that particular subgenre, this one can really be passed over without notice.
Let's get to both problem number one and one of the most irritating parts of the 307 pages in this first in a planned trilogy: Eden herself. Eden Newman, to be specific. Again: what is it with authors and the painfully obvious names/sur names? A protagonist named Eden Newman in a novel supposedly about a controlled dystopia with a population issue? It's both too on the nose and just kinda silly. Eden herself is silly, ridiculous, among other kinds of unfavorable descriptors. Her emotions whip around at the speed of light, often without any kind of valid reason for the whiplash - just reading her inner thoughts about her love interest, Bramford, manages to be both annoying and repetitive. While Eden can inspire a bit of empathy and curiosity while in REA/the Combs, out in the wild shows her true (nasty) colors. Eden pretty much ticks off every marker on my "Things Not To Do As A Main Character' list: she complains no one trusts her but trusts no one herself, acts suspiciously and gets angry for being called on her sketchy behavior, and most of all ignores what she is expressly warned not to do.
Speaking of Eden let's return to her boss and "love interest" Bramford. Right off, I hated the dynamic, the interplay and finally the "relationship" the two had for Revealing Eden. Bramford is too perfect, as shown by his "98% mate-rate" and the way the author writes him. Bramford also is a controlling bastard for much of the book: he orders Eden about with no reasoning or explanation, and is just kind of an ass because he can be, as a 'Coal'. Their "relationship" is a joke: neither can be bothered to trust the other, listen to the other or even just be nice. Eden is constantly on the look-out for something bad about Bramford or his motives - or even just something she can spin to seem like it's bad about Bramford. It's exhausting to read: " I love him!" "I hate him!" ad nauseam, with very little variation. The stupid, pointless bickering between the two is very repetitive. They also have zero chemistry together, so I found heir motivations/actions after discovering it to ring false. I can't buy that Eden does things out of love for Bramford because I can't buy that Eden really does love the part man, part jaguar part anaconda part eagle.
Almost all the twists and turns of the novel were telegraphed early on, or ridiculously easy to call. The writing as well could do with a bit of sharpening. Transitions especially need work here; the changes can be quite confusing with the often clumsy wording used. My dissatisfaction with the plotting was compounded by the poor worldbuilding and the nonexistant details about the science of the novel. Since so much of the novel focuses on Dr. Newman's experiments - and not the post-apocalyptic/race issues - I expected at least some kind of backghround info into the "Adaption" other than: science happens and BAM! Anaconda-harpy eagle-jaguar man! The father just "does science" in his lab and it's not enough to build believability for the resulting being. The only lip-service paid to the "dystopia" aspect are the mood enhancers, mind-numbing drugs, 'Life-Band', and 'World-Band' - all of which are referenced frequently, but never explained. I need worldbuilding, people. A good dystopia has detailed worldbuilding - none of which is to be found within the covers of Revealing Eden.