Unzipped: An Urban Erotic Tale. By Noire. One World Books/Random House, 2010. 269 pages.
Harlem twins Pearl and Diamond both have stunning bodies, seven-year-old daughters, and loving parents who are raising them, but the similarities stop there. Pearl is a rising star in the FBI, while Diamond dances for drugs, but the sisters still plan to meet for their twenty-first birthday. Pearl is disappointed when Diamond doesn’t show and distraught after the rest of her family is killed in an intentional house-fire.
With the help of Menace, Pearl’s ex-lover and the only one she has ever loved, she is determined take revenge on the gangsta boss who ordered the murder of her family. This urban erotica is driven by both steamy sex scenes and gruesome violence, sometimes inter-mingled but always engaging. Strong language and slang keep dialogue frank and easy to read. Pearl is both sympathetic and powerful, unafraid to use her body, charms, FBI-training, and desire for revenge to make the ghost of her father, an ex-gangsta who till his death worked to rehabilitate young thugs, proud. With cinematic flair, Unzipped is not for the faint of heart, and the action (of all sorts) never stops.
- Unzipped is a piece of Urban Erotica, which is characterized primarily by its focus on explicit sex scenes. How do you feel the plot of this novel held up against these scenes? Did they support the book as a longer piece of fiction? As a result of the story, versus the sex, did you find yourself more or less interested in the novel as a whole, and why?
- There any many moments of graphic violence in Unzipped as well as steamy sex scenes – sometimes intertwined. How did this make you feel during your reading experience? Do you think that the text is supporting a connection between sexual excitement and the power dynamics involved in violent acts, or that Noire was attempting the reverse, to force a sudden change of feeling in her readers? Support your answers with the text. Why do you think she intended this?
- The verse at the beginning of Unzipped insists that “[t]his here ain’t no romance,” yet ultimately Pearl receives her happily ever after with the only man she has ever loved. How would you characterize Unzipped if describing it to someone else, and would the romance genre have any part in it?
- What purpose do the twins Diamond and Pearl serve as juxtaposed against each other? What themes and messages are influenced or created by their twin relationship? Do you think those messages are directed at any readers in particular?
- This book has many cinematic elements to it, particularly during the hotel scenes in which Pearl gets to really use her FBI skills. If you were going to cast this book as a film, who would you have play each role and why?