Are you in the mood for some trashy fun? I mean really trashy? I’m talking Dynasty* meets The Real Housewives of New Jersey on the set of the Jerry Springer Show trashy? Then you’ve got to read The Men Who Sleep with My Husband, by Alicia Coston.
I picked this book up for my kindle (for free, of course) because…well, who could resist a title like that? And in case you think the title is just overly dramatic hyperbole, let me assure you, the very first scene of the book will disabuse you of that notion (although, to be fair, the title is euphemistic – there’s not a lot of ‘sleeping’ going on). But I get ahead of myself. Let’s start with a brief synopsis, then we’ll meet some of the characters.
Brief synopsis: A woman discovers her husband is cheating on her (with men) and she takes a hit out on his lovers.
Simple enough, yes?
No. Not simple at all. This story is a big bowl full of crazy…and I mean that in the best way possible.
Almost without exception, every single character that’s introduced ends up being coincidentally connected – in some ridiculous way – to the principals of the story. It’s outlandish and barely believable and a whole lot of fun!
To start, we have Lavender (yes, her name is Lavender; I am not making this up), the central character and the cuckquean (I’m not making that up either; google it) implied in the title.
Lavender’s husband, Quincy, is cheating on her with another man. Lavender’s husband is also the pastor of their church. And the man he’s having an affair with is one of the deacons. She walks in on the deacon fellating her husband…in the pulpit…in the very first sentence of the book!!! (I told you this was awesome).
Lavender manages to keep her cool long enough to flee the church unnoticed, but not long enough to avoid rear-ending an off-duty cop while she erratically drives home. This point – where we meet the cop and his passenger – is the place to start paying attention, because it’s where the coincidental connections start.
Okay, I was going to do a vague-ish (so as not to spoil the story) breakdown of who all these people are and how they are connected, but that’ll take too long and it’s late (3:30am) and I’m lazy. So, since I highly doubt any of you are actually going to read this book, I’m just going to shout SPOILER ALERT and dive into it…
So Lavender, unwilling to face the shame and scandal if the truth came out – she is the First Lady of her church, after all – decides to hire a hitwoman (named Dulce) to kill her husband’s lovers and frame her husband for their murders…thereby creating an even bigger scandal…which would only reflect badly on him and not at all affect her or their teenaged son…? I’m not really following her logic here…
Unfortunately, the plan backfires almost right away. Dulce offs the deacon, but before Lavender can start planting the evidence Dulce gives her, the police arrest the deacon’s widow. Of course, the lead officer on the case happens to be the detective Lavender rear-ended. Oh! And she’s having an affair with him as well!
It only gets more complicated, so try to keep up!
The cop, Tai, had been having a brief fling with a girl named Zoe (his passenger when he was rear-ended) who he picked up at a bar. What he didn’t know was that Zoe was actually 17, had been dating Danny (the son of Sargeant Garcia, his hated rival) and coincidentally went to high school with Lavender’s son, Jalen (with whom she later became friends).
Also Zoe’s dad, Tom, had coincidentally gone to college with Lavender’s husband Quincy. Tom and Quincy had dated for two years until Tom’s father found out, beat the crap out of him and made them break up. Oddly enough (or maybe not so odd), at a later point in the book, Quincy and Tom reconnect, and end up kissing. Jalen walks in on them, flips out, and ends up beating the crap out of Tom as well.
(By the way, since this book is so ridiculous, I won’t get into the extremely problematic situation of having a “weak” “gay” character whose sole purpose is to serve as a literal punching bag upon which the “strong”, “conflicted” straight men can work out their issues with regards to what is and what is not “acceptable” male sexuality and behaviour)
Had enough yet? No? Good, because there’s more!
Tai – who’s falling in love with Lavender – has an “evil” ex-wife, Mena, who divorced him because he was “married” to his job and therefore not paying enough attention to her. Turns out she’d been having an affair…with his dad!! And the best part? Apparently, on more than one occasion, their daughter Sabine had heard her mom and grandfather getting it on!!
There are several other side stories that get dragged into the mix:
• Quincy’s affair with Madam Woo, the drag queen who’s also a prostitute – though Quincy doesn’t realize this until he gets a post-coital payment request (which he refuses to make, until Madame Woo and her “butch dyke” pimp, Sonny, beat the crap out of him. But don’t worry, they get their come-uppance, too. Dulce kills Woo, Sonny and Sonny’s girlfriend).
• Zoe’s therapist, Denard (who coincidentally went to high school with Quincy and had been Quincy’s first sexual experience) who shows up towards the end of the book and outs Quincy and denounces him as a hypocrite in front of his entire congregation.
• Dulce the hitwoman, first being blackmailed by her mother (Dulce takes a contract out on her and has her killed) then being “unmasked” by Tai when she coincidentally saves his daughter from an attempted kidnapping. He let’s her go – on the condition that she leave town and never come back – because all of the people she’d killed had “deserved it”.
• Lavender’s decision not to frame her husband for the murders, but rather her best friend Corrine’s philandering husband Neil, who gave Corrine HIV and, later, attempts to rape Lavender.
Whew! Okay, I’m done. There’s only so much ridiculousness even I can take. If you’re actually interested in knowing what happens at the end (here’s a hint: two characters die and a third gets a “new beginning”), I suggest waiting for the Lifetime Movie to come out. Although…since the “cast” is 95% black, it’ll probably air on BET or on Oprah’s network …probably…
Or, more realistically, Tyler Perry will make it into a feature film and he himself will play the role of Lavender in drag.
I would TOTALLY pay to see that movie!
…at any rate, I’ll keep my eyes peeled and let you know if/when they make the movie and where it’s playing…
In the meantime, stay away from this book. It’s ridiculous…
…though, if you must read it, I can “loan” it to you via my kindle…
*for those of you born after 1990, Dynasty was a prime-time soap opera on the ABC network; it was basically the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but with good real actors. (less)
(A brief aside before I begin: Regardless of the author’s intent in writing this book, and her subsequent argu...moreThis was originally posted to my blog...
(A brief aside before I begin: Regardless of the author’s intent in writing this book, and her subsequent arguments defending it, there’s a whole lotta racism going on in here. Smarter people than me have already blogged that issue to death, so I’m not going to touch it. If you are dying to know about it, read some of the reviews on this page)
So, I finally figured out why my review of “Revealing Eden” was taking so long; I was approaching it in the wrong way. For some reason, I was treating it like an academic essay (thesis, arguments, conclusion, etc.).
I hate academic essays.
I’m just going to review it the way I would if I were talking to a friend (and since you’re reading my blog, I’m assuming we’re friends…)
I’ll start with a very basic synopsis:
Revealing Eden, a future dystopia that’s meant to “turn racism on its head”, is the story of Eden Newman, a young white girl living in a post-cataclysm world where black people rule and white people are oppressed. In her quest to find a mate (and help her genius-scientist father save the human race), she falls in love with her black employer.
If that sounds dull, uninspired and uninteresting, that’s because it is. The problem with “Revealing Eden” is that the writing is so lazy – oftentimes sloppy – that the characters and settings are woefully underdeveloped and the book is rife with inconsistencies to its own internal logic.
The world is ruled by black people, yet the only person smart enough to “save” everyone is a white guy (Eden’s father).
The names given to the different races are referred to as “slurs” yet only the one for black people is an actual insult (both in the book and in real life).
The surface of the planet is supposed to have been ravaged and rendered unlivable by the “Great Meltdown”, yet there’s a section of the Amazon Rainforest that not only survived intact, but is also peopled by the “mysterious” Huaorani tribe (who, by the way, do actually exist, in Ecuador, but who do not speak Spanish, contrary to what the book portrays).
The white people are supposed to wear a dark skin coating to protect them from the deadly rays of the sun, yet Eden traipses around the Amazon – free of her coating – and doesn’t get so much as a tan.
Speaking of Eden (the girl who’s going to help save humankind is named Eden…New…Man – not gonna touch that one), though she’s supposed to be smart and capable, her actions reveal her to be shallow, superficial and naïve.
She figures out her father’s secret world-saving plan – that’s supposed to be kept a secret – and uses it to impress a black guy she’s trying to bed. He, of course, betrays her and uses the information in a bid to seize power so he can kill off all the white people.
Also, she constantly spouts off the scientific names of plants and animals because…well, I’m not sure why she does this. She does it at the most random intervals but it’s never explained why. Maybe it’s meant to show her intelligence? If that’s the case, it doesn’t work. It becomes tedious and distracting and makes her seem less intelligent, rather than more.
Okay, I’m done with this; it’s time to shift gears here. While I was reading the book, I made copious notes to help with the review. I’m just going to include the relevant ones here, because they’re illustrative and will easily make my point for me…also, thinking about this book is starting to give me a headache and I have stuff of my own I need to be writing.
If you don’t feel like reading the notes, that’s fine. I’ll just say, as an ending note: This author took a potentially interesting idea and did a terrible job at executing it. Apparently, the idea was done right in Malorie Blackman’s “Noughts and Crosses” Check that out instead.
“They must not see” (p. 10 – first page of story, 2nd sentence. I get the need to other the “bad guys”, but given the history of the US, and the nature of this story, referring to black people as “them” is probably not the wisest decision. she does this a lot)
(what’s w/ all the scientific names? – distracting)
(who names a character “Peach”, like actual name instead of nickname?)
“Experience something pleasant” (p. 11 – shouldn’t that be think of something pleasant?) “Pearls, the racist term for whites” (p. 12)
“Images of Pearls in natural coloring were forbidden. If they caught Eden looking, she would be punished” (p. 13 – if the images are forbidden, why does she have such easy access to them?)
“…according to the antique Beauty Map…” (p. 13 – what the hell is a beauty map?)
“Me? Eden Newman?” (p. 13 – Eden Newman…Eden…New Man…subtlety this is not…)
“She was a lowly Pearl, worth nothing in a world ruled by dark skinned Coals” (p. 13 – because pearls are worthless…???)
“Because of his high intelligence scores, they had overlooked his race and given him the position of lead scientist” (p. 14 – on her scientist father getting a lead research position. no one else – no one else – in the entire society is smarter than this one “Pearl”…)
“Since their numbers hadn’t been decimated in The Great Meltdown, as the other races’ had, they now ruled the planet” (p. 15 – because greater numbers always determines who rules…)
“Only Cottons, the derogatory word for albinos, were lower, and they were extinct.” (p. 15 – because albinism denotes a separate “race” and not a genetic trait)
“If Eden wasn’t mated in six months when she turned eighteen – the deadline for girls – she’d be cut off from Basic Resources, and left outside to die.” (p. 15)
“Eden flinched. One of them was touching her. White-hot light exploded in her head. Before she knew it, she blurted out an incendiary racial slur. ‘Get your hands off of me, you damn Coal!’ ” (p. 15)
“The girl lunged for her, but Eden jumped out of reach. “She pushed me!” Ashina cried, falling to the floor.” (p. 15 – how can you “push” someone towards you?)
“Even those whom she thought tolerated her presence hurled racial epithets. ‘Earth-damned Pearl!’ ‘White death!’ ”(p. 15)
“…skin the color of storm clouds…” (p. 17 – aren’t storm clouds usually various shades of gray – from light to dark? …mmmaybe, 50 shades of gray?)
“…a mixed Asian, or Amber, as the racist term went…” (p. 18)
“…why not pick a Tiger’s Eye, or Latino? They ranked higher in the race wars than Ambers, who stood above Pearls.” (p. 19)
(she refers – repeatedly in the story – to Jamal, the head of security, as her Dark Prince.) p. 19
“Only a cold bastard like Bramford could resist Jamal’s charm. His expression remained impassive, as closed off as his past.” (p. 20 – if this is meant to be foreshadowing, it is really clumsy. if not, what purpose does it serve? in the next pp she talks of “researching” him – why/how would a “lowly Pearl” get access to such information?)
“Eden found the custom gold ring, which held a large onyx stone, as pretentious as its owner.” (p. 20 – custom gold ring w/ a large onyx (obviously the author is aware of its worth) – yet the black people are referred to as Coals…???)
(random and recurring mentions of genetics/genomes. why? to add “feeling” of being scientific/intellectual?) p. 21
(the main character vacillates between haughtily condescending and ridiculously naïve – is that meant to represent a typical teenager? but she grew up in a “post-apoc wasteland” so she’s not a typical teenager) p.21
“Even here she couldn’t escape Bramford’s colossal ego. Like an animal, he had marked his territory by carving a ridiculously large initial “B” onto each unit door. His audacious company logo – a snow-capped black mountain against a red desert background that offered a false hope in a parched land – glowed at intervals along the walls. As if he owned everything, including her” (p.22 – uh…what CEO doesn’t tag everything with their brand?)
“…happiness had gone the way of the dolphins.” (p. 23 – what a strange thing to say)
“…she flashed on the date: the 29th of May, her half birthday. For Earth’s sake, how could she have forgotten?” (p. 24 – she didn’t forget. see note from page 15)
“…her lingering anger over Bramford’s lies…” (p. 25 – what lies has he told?)
“A Pink Pearl [Eden’s mother] was fairer than Eden, and therefore even more susceptible to the Heat. But she’d been lax about coating. Minor rebellions keep the heart alive, she would say.” (p. 27 – so, is this “coating”, this Midnight Luster, is it mandatory so the Coals don’t get offended by the sight of Pearls, or is it some kind of preventative/prophylactic/”sunblock” that the Pearls need for enviro protection?)
“Eden switched on Austin’s nutrient teat, and he began to suck hungrily on it.” (p. 27 – in a future of limited resources where Pearls are at the bottom of the ladder, why would a Pearl have not only the luxury of owning a dog, but also a dog-feeding system built in to her home?)
“…his powerful body dominating the small space like a mountain in a cave…” (p. 67 – who writes like this? what does it mean?)
“Nearly two decades of oxy drips had…”(p. 108 – she’s 17½ and started oxy when she was 5 – that’s NOT nearly two decades, that’s just over one decade)
Was it because Eden now lacked a shed of dark coating? (p. 111 – where is the editor???)
“The name had struck a nerve 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.” (p. 113 – ok, this reads like really bad porn-lite. and, of course, the black guy with “those big, rough hands”…)
“Luckily, she recalled a few Spanish words she had learned whenever her sensors had translated.” (p. 116 – what does this mean? when had her sensors translated Spanish?)
“She slipped on a pile of Brazil nuts and fell onto a log.” (p. 125 – wha? huh? why?)
“It’s evident that you have a talent for aggravating him. A common female tactic to attract the male’s attention.” (p. 133 – this is her father talking to her. I suppose being a “brilliant scientist” does not preclude being a sexist d-bag)
“Eden knew the woman meant well. But then, the road to Earth’s destruction had also been paved with good intentions.” (p. 137 – on the “native woman” putting a poultice on her father’s wound…what the f**k!!!)
“Maria gave her a warning look. ‘Bejuco de oro muy fuerte.’ ”(p. 138 – that is not a sentence!!!!! why is the "native" lady speaking HER OWN LANGUAGE ungrammatically???)
“In fact, the Huaorani met the most trivial events with a happiness that puzzled Eden. Maybe they didn’t know how boring their lives were.” (p. 140 – what an awful person she is)
“If only Austin were there to protect her. If only she had paid attention to his warnings.” (p. 146 – …Austin was her dog…)
(The amount of “convenient” knowledge she possesses is simply ridiculous) p. 151
(This girl is giving a nature lecture as she’s about to be killed by a giant snake) p. 156
“…Eden peered inside at an unappetizing dark brown watery soup, surprisingly odorless.” (p. 173 – her sentence constructions are awful)
“…he seemed as far away from her as the world was from their lonely encampment.” (p. 174 – this turn of phrase does not work for a post-apoc planet where most live underground and these two are in the ‘last bit of green’ anywhere.)
“To her surprise, Bramford squeezed her hands, as if he were trying to communicate.” (p. 174 – they then go on to have a 2-3 page conversation…so he didn’t need to try…)
(having a “let’s-reveal-all-of-one-character’s-secrets-while-he’s-in-a-drug-induced-stupor” conversation is so lazy!!!) p. 179
“Love? If it did exist, it hurt like Bleeding Earth.” (p. 181 – what the heck does this mean?)
“It never occurred to Eden that various parts of a plant contained different remedies – it was just a plant.” (p. 201 – she was assistant to her father – the most brill scientist EVAR – and smart enough to piece together his “plan” and can’t go 5 sentences w/o dropping some scientific nomenclature, but this shit about plants never occurred to her?)
“…the tube-lipped nectar bat, Anoura fistulata, so necessary for pollination in the rain forest…”(p. 202 – yet the plant info never occurred to her)
“What deep dark secret could cause the girls’ irrepressible spirits to wilt? Even Maria’s shoulders sagged. It had to be some superstitious Huaorani belief, perhaps because of his mixed race.” (p. 202 – cos dem brown people’s got some krazeeee ideas about shit!!!)
(this girl is RIDICULOUS!!! she keeps jumping to crazy conclusions based on the skimpiest of “evidence” and then makes decisions based on them!!) p. 202
(This author doesn’t telegraph her punches, she takes out full-page newspaper ads!!!) p. 177/204
“ ‘Are you all right, Daught?’ her father said, his voice shaky. Even now, as his energy drained away, he only showed concern for her. For once the dreaded nickname comforted Eden.” (p. 205 – this makes no sense!!! he’s basically shut her out since her mother’s death and she’s been bitching for the entire book about how he never pays attention to her.)
“Using her finely developed researcher’s skills, she memorized the leaf Maria had given her…”(p. 211 – this book has got to be a joke…it simply has to be…)
(in – what? 3, 4 days TOPS – she’s all of a sudden Sheena, Queen of the Jungle?) p. 211
(she’s seriously – SERIOUSLY – riding him like he’s an actual beast. This book is fucked up) p. 213
“A delicate rainbow arced high in the glistening air like a stairway to heaven.” (p. 214 – when has a rainbow ever approximated a stairway? maybe a pathway…and, seriously, stairway to heaven? as they head towards Heaven’s Gate?)
“Eden realized that her father probably would be the first non-native to take its medicine. “We could call it Newman’s Cure,” she said, hopefully” (p. 221 – my god!!! how arrogant and selfish is this girl???)
“What on Blessed Earth would it take for Bramford to trust her?” (p. 229 – she has done NOTHING in the entire novel to make anyone trust her.)
She lifted her head to find Austin sprawled on top of Jamal’s face. (p. 234 – what????)
An indirect approach was best, she decided. (p. 241 – that’s all she’s done for the whole book!!!!) (less)
Wow! I really thought it would be difficult to find a book as bad as The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown has managed to prove me wrong.
This time I started la...moreWow! I really thought it would be difficult to find a book as bad as The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown has managed to prove me wrong.
This time I started laughing before I was even done with the first page! (Seriously, I did. I was in a used bookstore w/ my roommate and I just started giggling like a kid - a very large, loud kid - when I read the first page of A&D)
Dan Brown has an amazing talent for creating ridiculous/ unbelievable/offensive characters who fluctuate between being one-dimensional and practically non-dimensional (Don't believe me? Think I'm joking or being hyperbolic? Go ahead. Read A&D and then get back to me. I'll accept your apology graciously).
Once again (or, I should say, for the first time) we have Robert Langdon - famed Harvard symbologist - thrust into a chaotic maelstrom of events that are always on the cusp of spiraling out of control, yet that he manages to survive/overcome.
It's all quite ridiculous really.
I will say, however, that one of the speeches about science vs. religion that was given by the "camerlengo" was quite thought-provoking. Not enough to excuse the rest of the ridiculous, banal, nonsense that surrounded it, mind you...but it was interesting.(less)
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said?
I will admit that the premise was interesting, as were some of the place descriptions. B...moreWhat can I say about this book that hasn't already been said?
I will admit that the premise was interesting, as were some of the place descriptions. But that's about it.
I chose to read this book specifically because I'd heard how bad it was (and some masochistic part of me is irresistibly DRAWN to poorly executed books) and I must say this book did not disappoint at all!!
I ended up reading several chapters of it aloud to my roommate on X-mas eve; it was the best X-mas eve EVER! We drank our beers and ate our treats and LAUGHED and LAUGHED...
I should probably give this book more stars, since I did enjoy it so...
Ok. Seriously now. The biggest problem I had with the book was the author's writing "style". In the hands of someone with an eye for words and an ear for dialogue, this could have been quite a good book.
This book, however, was just badly done. The poor word choices, the outlandish descriptions of the characters and their actions ("Captain Bezu Fache carried himself like an angry ox, with his wide shoulders thrown back and his chin tucked hard into his chest. His dark hair was slicked back with oil, accentuating an arrow-like widow's peak that divided his jutting brow and preceded him like the prow of a battleship. As he advanced, his dark eyes seemed to scorch the earth before him, radiating a fiery clarity that forecast his reputation for unblinking severity in all matters", p.22 - Is he an ox? Is he a battleship? Is he Godzilla???), the wooden dialogue - it all conspires to shock and numb the reader's mind so that the author can spoon-feed the reader this awful story. (I see it as somewhat akin to the time my kid sister stood behind me pinching my ear REALLY HARD so I wouldn't be focused on the pain of the tattoo I was getting on my forearm - except I really LIKE my tattoo).
My big fear now is that, since I can't seem to stay away from horribly written books, I may end up reading all of Brown's "works"...*shudder*
Oh, wow, where can I begin? I got a review copy of this book from a friend and decided to read it for fun; it was NOT fun.
The characters weren't that...moreOh, wow, where can I begin? I got a review copy of this book from a friend and decided to read it for fun; it was NOT fun.
The characters weren't that believable, the dialogue was generally awful, the sex scenes were laughable (especially the lesbian sex scenes - I asked around: NONE of my dyke friends had EVER referred to a vag as a "cavern" or a "briar patch"), and the author clearly did not do enough research into the locations he was using ("Knob Hill" in San Francisco?? ...although, that WOULD be a great name for a gay porn movie...hmmmm). I've only been to New York once, but I know that its boroughs aren't spelled "Bruklin" and "Bronks"!
One of the "reviews" on the inside cover touts the book as "...the African-American 'Friends' shown with naked truth".
If 'Friends' had been anything like THIS book, it wouldn't have made it past the pilot episode.
If you like to torture yourself with bad "literature" (as I tend to do), then by all means, grab this book and read away (I'll even send you my copy). Otherwise, avoid it. Trust me, you'll be all the happier for it. (less)