Almost six months ago, I wrote a post about race in YA literature. While I covered a few different points, one was the (at the time recent) release of the novel Revealing Eden, which many compared to the previously published Naughts & Crosses. I hadn’t read either in their entirety, though I did read a preview of each book before writing the post.
Last month, I discovered a new series (The Cambion Chronicles) that also dealt with race, and it reminded me about the aforementioned books. I decided to read each to see if the comparisons were fair and to better understand how each dealt with issues of race in worlds where the dark-skinned people are the majority.
I decided to read Revealing Eden first. The first order of business here was to completely suspend reality for a moment. Knowing what the subject matter was, I knew to read it with an entirely separate universe in my mind. Instead of considering Pearls and Coals human, from this Earth, with true Black and White race relations involved, I consider the novel a fantasy — with a vast majority of a species with darker skin being the oppressive rulers of this world.
Once I placed myself into this mindset, Eden’s position was much easier to swallow. She, a member of an oppressed race, must cover her skin and hair to look more like her oppressors in order to survive in their world, which has been forced underground as a result of devastating surface damage to their planet (which is Earth, according to Eden, but as mentioned before, I’m reading it as off-world fantasy). Never is it clearly mentioned what the surface damage is, or what has caused it — and there’s a really big plot point that involves this question and really confuses me.