I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Published by Harper Collins on Spetember 2, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
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.
Violet is a surrogate, who is destined to have a baby for her owner/employer who is of a class that can no longer have children. The collective greed and cruelty of the royal classes has rotted them from the inside, so to speak, and so surrogates have become both necessary and a way to show their social standing. Not only will Violet hold a new life, she has a special magical ability to make things grow, which makes her even more valuable. As the true nature of the life she now leads closes in around her, she finds some romance, and perhaps a way to escape. I have to admit that I am becoming a tad weary of this scenario: a girl raised in poverty is picked for some sort of program or honor, is given luxurious surroundings and everything she could possible want, only to find out that what she truly needs cannot be bought and that agency and freedom are much more valuable. To be fair, however, this is not something that started with the rise of YA fiction’s popularity. It is a lesson repeated over and over again in folk tales told for hundreds of years. I don’t fault any author for writing a story that is so ingrained in the collective subconscious. However, I still sometimes crave a more original story-telling platform.
I am always down for romance, and while this was a bit insta-lovey, I appreciated how Ash was just as much a prisoner to his physical attributes as Violet was. While The Jewel certainly did a good job of communicating Violet’s powerlessness over her own body, which was very chilling in parts, I still didn’t feel that this book had anything particularly groundbreaking to offer. It wasn’t until the very end, and I mean literally the last few sentences, that I thought things really picked up and had a lot of potential. Of course, that is the cliffie that will probably keep me interested in the next book. Those who were fans of The Selection will likely enjoy The Jewel, as well. The Jewel was not a particularly challenging story, but I found enjoyment in it and I think it has potential as a series.