The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
The truth is, I sometimes request books because of the pretty covers, the pretty dresses worn by the perfect cover models, and the interesting synopsis that more times than not, have absolutely nothing to do with the book itself. I requested The Jewel because I needed something a bit more from my usual reading habits that have been lacking in diversity lately.
What we are told is that the Jewel is a part of The Lone City where the so called royalty lives in their very own castles, while the rest of society is divided into 5 other sections, thus, the Hunger Games comparison. Perhaps we can correlate this books royals to those of England, especially the way they talk, and act. The royal women can no longer conceive their own children so they came up with an Auction, but boy do they love their backstabbing games!
Girls like 16-year old Violet Lasting undergo mandatory testing, are then taken away from their families after they "become a woman," then packed away to a place where they are apparently taught magical skills. Later, they are sold off to the highest bidder based on a rating system (Violet is # 197). In turn, they become nothing more than baby makers that live in the lap of luxury and get their very own maids to care for them. If they survive that long that is. Remember what I said about the Royals and their games?
Violet comes from the poorest part of Lone City called the Marsh. She ends up in the Jewel where she is expected to serve her new Slave Owner aka the Duchess of the Lake. Duchess Lake is a vile and nasty piece of work, and I have to say, I adored her because she makes no bones about changing the way she is, or her way of doing things, or in getting a bit of revenge in the process. She wants what she wants, and walks over the blood of anyone who gets in her way.
So, what were my favorite parts of this book? Violet's best friend Raven who is in hell with her Slave owner. I liked that Violet cared enough for her to make a bold move. I may be tempted to read her novella once it is released in November just to read what really happened to her off stage.
The whole idea of a male being a lady-in-waiting was rather unique. Lucien is probably my favorite character of this entire book, and that's because he is trying to do something pro-active and dumbasses keep making stupid mistakes like falling in love with someone that will get him and her killed.
I will say that last third of the story was the faster paced than the beginning, and the most entertaining. I'm saying this in kindness dear readers, don't read this book and not expect something like a cliffhanger from happening. This IS, after-all, the first novel in the trilogy, and Violet is a character that doesn't know about being strong willed, and goal driven.
I will say that I kept an open mind while reading The Jewel but there were some head turning moments that I just could not ignore. The overall plot was definitely interesting, while the lack of world building was rather puzzling. Why did the oceans rise, and cause the so called descendants to build a wall around The Lone City? What country is this story set in? What about the rest of the world? Why are only the poor able to bear children, while the royals can't? What really happens to the Surrogates once the royals used them up?
My last complaint about The Jewel was the romance that is shoved down our throats like disgusting cough syrup to a sick patient. It wasted a huge chunk of the story for me, and there was no coming back from it. If there was one recommendation I could make to future readers it is this; skip over the romance part, and focus on the behind the scenes stuff that the story moving forward and intriguing.
The Jewel has been compared to The Selection and The Handmaid's Tale by more than a few people I know of and value their opinions. To say that I have no desire to read The Selection nor will any time soon, shouldn't make me a hater, or unwilling to open up my reading selection. It just means that none of the reviews have inspired me to read the series, including the idiotic, and stupid 3 way love triangles that infects the YA genre today.
Author - Amy Ewing
Title - The Jewel (The Lone City # 1)
Published by HarperTeen
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Format: E-Book 358 pages