Author: Amy Ewing
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 358 Pages
Published September 2014
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Summary: 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.I'm a huge fan of The Selection and a sworn enemy of Insta-Love, so I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book before I actually got around to picking it up. I immediately added it to my TBR once HarperCollins announced it on an episode of Tea Time, however, because I just couldn't wait to see what this book and debut author Amy Ewing had in store. (I also found it pretty interesting that this book began as a thesis paper...what the heck was she even supposedly writing about?!)
Anyway, this book reminded me of a cross between The Selection by Kiera Cass and Bumped by Megan McCafferty. Young girls with special genes able to harness special powers are singled out, ripped away from their families, bought and sold by royalty, and then forced to be surrogates.
Which is bad, but not even the worst part. The worst part is that they're supposed to use these special gene powers, called Auguries, to help the baby grow into something talented and regal and beautiful and, well...worthy of being the future leaders of the Lone City.
Seems like a pretty tough job.
The beginning of this book sucked me right in. I had a million things that I was supposed to be doing, but I blew them all off because I had a severe case of "One More Chapter" Syndrome with this one. Seriously. I managed to finish this in two complete days, which is actually a long time for me, but considering the fact that I have school and a million other extracurricular things to do, a maximum of two days is pretty impressive for me.
But back to what I was talking about. The beginning. This book seriously grabs hold of you and refuses to let go. Violet's character, her personal background, and just the world building around the Lone City and the surrogate holding facilities and the Jewel itself caught my attention. The Auction, where these young surrogate girls were sold to royalty to be their property in what I personally see as a step up from slavery (regardless of everything the royalty gives them) was a strange mix of intriguing and appalling. And Violet is certainly smart enough to realize this.
And she realizes she wants out. Which I knew was going to happen, but I loved it anyway. Girl power! Fight the system! They are not property, they're people!
The only thing that kept me from giving this book the five stars it probably rightfully deserved was one little hyphenated word. A word a despise. Something that makes me cringe so much and immediately take an entire star off of a review if it pops up anywhere.
That's right, ladies and germs. Violet and this young gentlemen Ash also hired by the royalty have a bad, bad case of insta-love. I'm talking immediately meet and then start sucking faces a few days later kind of insta-love. Blech. (It isn't the romance itself I can't stand - that I actually enjoyed. It's the fact that they were telling one another that they LOVED each other about a week into Violet's moving into the Duchess's palace.)
In all honesty, if the romance between Violet and Ash had been dragged out a little longer and their relationship had more time to develop, it would have been fantastic. But it feels to me like Amy Ewing was in too much of a rush and just wanted to jump right to it. (Believe me girl, as a fellow writer, we all know the feeling. We want to the good stuff to start happening right away and we don't have the patience to let it build up. But it has to build up!
All in all, The Jewel was a captivating story about royalty and the horrors of having your choices taken away from you. I loved every aspect about the Lone City and the Jewel and the royalty. The only part I wasn't too keen on was the insta-love. I feel that if the relationship between Violet and Ash wasn't so rushed and maybe had been drawn out a little longer, this book would receive the five stars it would have then deserved. (Yes, I have such a problem with insta-love that it does immediately dock a star off of my review.) However, even with the insta-love, it's still a book that any fans of The Selection or even Bumped should totally give a try!