Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Pages: 358
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Fantasy
Pub. Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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 was born into a world where only certain people can have healthy children and at a young age all the girls must be tested to see if they possesses this gene.  As it turns out, Violet does and is transported off to a holding facility that will train her to use her "talents."  She can no longer see her family or friends and she has left them behind in the Marsh, a poor section of the Lone City.  Violet is training to be a surrogate for the royalty and they will bid on her at an upcoming auction.  But Violet isn't just merely a surrogate; she also has powers or Auguries that allow her to transform things.  On the day of the auction, The Duchess of the Lake buys Violet and she is thrusted into the unpredictable world of The Jewel, where the wealthy live in the Lone City.  Violet's world at The Jewel is a lonely one except for her friendship with Lucien, who works for the wealthy, and a companion for the niece of the Duchess, Ash.  As time progresses, Violet starts to have feelings for Ash, but things are complicated and the consequences are very severe. Plus, she has the dark cloud hanging over. She will eventually become a surrogate for the Duchess.  Amy Ewing's debut, The Jewel, has many strong points, but at times seems to be a bit derivative.

I immediately felt for Violet and her situation in The Jewel. The world she lives in is extremely grim and to be separated from your family is a tough situation.  Her relationship with the Duchess is a complex one. At times the Duchess showers her with gifts, such as a beautiful cello, and at other times uses force to prove a point.  I was constantly on the edge of my seat worried by what the Duchess might do at any given time. My favorite aspect of this story was the volatile relationship between the Duchess and Violet as well as the power struggle between the two.

The world that Ewing created reminded me a bit of the dystopia portrayed in The Hunger Games and Wither.  Although it wasn't exactly unique, it was still a compelling world that kept me intrigued.  The idea of surrogates and royals trying to get their surrogates pregnant first as they vie for the crown was sort of cringeworthy at times, but the concept is a compelling one that kept me flipping the pages.

About half way through The Jewel, enters Ash, a possible love interest for Violet. He is a trained companion and is pretty much off-limits, but somehow he and Violet form a forbidden connection.  They sneak off to spend more time together, meanwhile, we all know this isn't going to end well.  I found their relationship to be a bit lacking and I wasn't feeling the connection at all. Perhaps this was because he was introduced so late in the story? Maybe. But either way, I wasn't invested and definitely wanted more from their relationship.

Fans of the science-fiction/dystopia genre may be intrigued by The Jewel as it is a fun way to spend a summer afternoon, but if you are looking for a more compelling, yet similar dystopian world, I urge you to check out The Hunger Games, Wither and even The Selection.


10 comments:

  1. Well, the majority of reviews for this book pretty much felt the same as you did. The lack of connection and interest on the romance was the ultimate turn off for everybody. It's too bad. After all the hype this book got pre-BEA, it's such a disappointment to find it lacking.

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    1. Yes, I have noticed that in other reviews I read, which definitely makes me feel validated. It was definitely entertaining, but there were too many aspects of this book that fell short for me to give it four stars. Thanks for visiting!!

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  2. I agree completely Christina! I found the world and Violet's relationship with the Duchess to be fascinating in a horrific kind of way, but the romance was definitely lacking. I needed Ash to come into the story earlier, he just came way too late for any kind of connection to form. Still, I'm looking forward to the next book because that cliffhanger was brutal!

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    1. I'm so glad we agree, Jenny! Me too. Ash literally showed up at the 50% mark on my Kindle. A little late in the story, if you ask me! The cliffhanger was pretty fantastic. I may pick up the second book….still undecided. Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

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  3. I think this book probably isn't for me. It sounds like a shadow of better YA dystopian novels.

    Thanks for the honest review :)

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    1. Yeah, I definitely recommend Wither and The Selection before this one, but it had some entertaining parts to it. If you do read it, you will have to let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting, Lea!

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  4. Ash needed to not exist. It would have made the book so much better if he didn't. I'm much more compelled with Garnet, even though his name, like most in this book, is horrible. Great review!

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    1. I know, right?! I am definitely interested in the Garnet subplot and the cliffhanger was great, so I just may pick up book two. We shall see! I'm glad we agree though, Christianna. Thanks for visiting!

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  5. The book has a lovely cover but I think I am going to pass on this one. I read Wither and The Selection but both of those books didn't make me care enough to read their sequels so I doubt I'd like this one. Thanks for your review!

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    1. Yeah, if Wither or The Selection weren't your cup of tea, then I would avoid this one, Christina! Thanks for visiting and checking out my review!

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