Title: Pastel Pink (Zadok #1)
Author: Nikki Minty
Genre: YA Fantasy / Sci-fi
Publication Date: April 15th, 2021
Rating: 2 stars
Thank you to BooksGoSocial and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!
“From one ending comes a new beginning…
Ruby was murdered on Earth eighteen years ago and reincarnated on Zadok as a Pastel Zeek named Harlow. To be born at the bottom of her race’s caste colour system to a middle-class family of Magentas has made Harlow a source of conflict amongst the ruling Purples, and a source of derision from all three colours.
When Harlow is attacked by a fuegor on Zadok, the effects of its slow reacting venom triggers an unforeseen phenomenon, and due to the strong connection she had with her former twin sister Jade, her human spirit is unexpectedly drawn back to Earth.
Now living a double life, she has plunged into a world of intrigue on both planets.
On earth, she watches on in horror as Jade reconnects with Lucas, the man who murdered her and got away with it. And to complicate things further, she’s being pursued by Alex, the ghost of Lucas’ twin. On Zadok, she becomes embroiled with Jax, the son of the Commanding family. He’s determined to bring about change to the colony’s colour system, but it’ll come at a cost.
As Harlow mixes with the political intrigue of the Zeeks, will she become a victim of those trying to rigidly maintain the status quo or will she usher in a revolution?
And will ghost Ruby resist the temptation of the handsome Alex or pursue an impossible relationship that could have dire consequences on both planets?” (Goodreads)
I always like to try indie books because sometimes they really surprise me and I find new authors to enjoy. I was looking forward to this one after seeing it as a “read now” on Netgalley. Plus, the cover is just so pretty! I really like the colors and it’s eye-catching.
For the first 18%, I was enjoying what I was reading. The writing was good and there were different plot points that kept me engaged. Nothing really stood out to me until the colors of the characters skins became more of an issue and different distinctions shot up red flags.
I did run these things by others to make sure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions and others saw the same issues I did. As someone mentioned, this could have not been beta read and since the author is from Australia that may also be a reason. I’m not sure but let’s just get into the discussion.
In the second chapter, we are introduced to Harlow who is a Pastel. In her region of the planet there is a construct for the different colors of skin. The top is Purple, middle is Magenta, and Pastel is at the bottom. Each one has a different job/task based on their color. Pastels are seen as weak and useless. Sometimes they are born blind or lose their sight.
Again nothing occurred to me until a Purple, the commander’s son, started talking about how these people shouldn’t be segregated as right now they are separated by the different colors. He wants to change it while others, his mother included, do not want to. This just seemed oddly similar to our own history in America. Another thing that added to this point is when there is a comic and words in illustrations that say, “No Pastels Allowed.”.
There was also a passage that talked about how the men wear their hair and that they would have dreadlocks or cornrows. She also made sure to mention that Zavier, a Pastel, had a tangled mess instead of the other two hairstyles. Both of those hairstyles are usually linked to the black community. Later on in the book, the author describes a character of being, “…tall powerful physique of a female basketball player from the human world–only curvier, sexier.” Before that she mentioned that this character has muscular thighs. If I remember correctly, this character was a Purple so she was at the top.
On this planet there are also other groups of people living, one being the vallon. They are described as having red skin. A few passages about them did remind me of Native Americans. One of those reasonings being the color of their skin and they are also mentioned as riding horses, raiding colonies, and stealing young pastel girls. They also come from the desert and Harlow described them as being jealous of her colony having all the best resources.
There are other passages that made me feel uneasy about the chosen color system for these characters but I don’t want this review to be too long. I will say that at least there was talk about being one race and wanting unity but it still left a bad taste. I’m just not sure what the intentions behind it all were.
As for the rest of the book, I did like the writing. There is violence in this book and it does start off with it. It’s definitely what kept me interested in reading. The two timelines come from Harlow and her as Ruby’s ghost. There is also two point-of-views. All of this can be overwhelming at times as it doesn’t leave too much room for explaining the world-building better as we are thrown from one place to the next.
When it came to the world-building, I was a bit confused. On the planet that Harlow lives there is modern conveniences like a hospital and café but they also do jobs as hunters and gatherers. They even trade for supplies. They also don’t live in modern homes as their dwelling place is in caverns. I’m not really sure exactly how all of this goes together and I just had a really hard time trying to imagine it all in my head.
Another thing about the world-building is that animals, or monsters as I’m not sure, were never described and neither was some of the different words used by the people. One phrase being, “…the deeper the pigment, the bigger the whingers.” This was used to describe those complaining at the café. This could also be seen as another point to the above when it comes to race.
The only other thing I want to mention is the character of Alex. I liked him at the beginning but by the end I hated him. He was literally giving his brother a free pass when it came to murder and wanting to murder other people because of his childhood. It just wasn’t good.
Overall, this started out strong but quickly took a turn that left me feeling uncomfortable with the color system of this book. Although there were a few interesting plot points, I can’t say that I would recommend this book or that I will be continuing on with this series.