Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel (The Lone City #1)
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: September 2nd 2014
Length: 358 pages
Keywords: YA, dystopian, romance, friendship, intrigue
Source: Publisher

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.

Summary by Goodreads

THE JEWEL starts with the auction of two hundred girls who are sold as surrogates to wealthy women. Our protagonist, Violet, is one of these surrogates.
   It was a strategically clever idea to kick off the story with such a big auction that would decide over the fates of so many girls. Who wouldn't want to know how that would go and where Violet would end up? In the end Violet is purchased by the Duchess of the Lake, a mean woman who expects Violet to gift her with a baby that is more powerful and successful than the babies of her so-called friends as soon as possible. 

Amy Ewing takes her time to explain why things are the way they are in THE JEWEL. Readers learn about the history of the Lone City. And that it is divided into five parts that are separated by walls from each other. There is the Marsh, the Farm, the Smoke, the Bank and the Jewel, the richest of them all. Violet comes from the Marsh, the poorest part of the city. So we get to experience life in the Marsh and the Jewel. With that Amy Ewing shows us two very contrary parts of society and makes it pretty easy for readers to pick their sides.

The fact that the Jewel depends on the poorest people of the city to secure their succession is kind of ironic. The way Amy Ewing describes the girls' fates and lets Violet see how some of the surrogates suffer made me feel an immediate compassion and concern for our heroine so deep, that I couldn't put the book down until I knew that everything would be turning out bearable for her. I could've easily done without reading all about the various medical procedures and ordeals Violet has to go through though.

In addition Amy Ewing gave the story an interesting spin by supplying her characters, the young girls from the Marsh, with magical powers they have to train before they are sold. It is often very painful to trigger their powers. Constant demonstrations of the so-called auguries show how cruel the rules of this society are. I would've loved to find out more about the auguries without the girls hurting so much, chosen theory over practice.

The rivalry between the rich ladies intricately illustrated by intrigues, cat fights and even murder, and the pressure on Violet to conceive a child she doesn't even want, supplied the story with a psychologically thrilling and cruel reading motivator. You'll never believe what these sweet, well-behaved girls and women are capable of.

So we've got the rivalry, but a deep friendship between Violet and Raven, one of her surrogate friends, too. Violet can't loose Raven, she needs to cling to her friend and know that she's fine in order to stay sane in her new foreign environment. There's also a forbidden romance that was surprisingly authentic. I enjoyed the direction it went despite expecting our heroine to fall for someone else entirely. In the end the story really gains from Violet's friendship and love story both and I'm very curious to find out more about them in the next book.

4/5 **** THE JEWEL - This is a book fans of THE SELECTION series should be pining for!

THE JEWEL was one of the books of 2014 that really surprised me. In so far as that I liked it very much. I wasn't sure what kind of world building to expect and was afraid that it would be too similar to other popular YA dystopian worlds. On the contrary; it was unique and to see how young girls are treated in the world of the Jewel left a very strong impression on me.

"Anxiety thrums inside me as the sun rises slowly over the Great Wall off in the distance, the one that encircles the entire Lone City. The wall that protects us from the violent ocean outside. That keeps us safe. I love sunrises, even more than sunsets. There's something so exciting about the world coming to life in a thousand colors. It's hopeful. I'm glad I get to see this one, ribbons of pink and lavender shot through with streams of red and gold. I wonder if I'll get to see any sunrises when I start my new life in the Jewel. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't been born a surrogate." p. 2

THE JEWEL you might enjoy THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass, EVE by Anna Carey and WITHER by Lauren DeStefano. Kiera Cass, Anna Carey and Lauren DeStefano all wrote thrilling dystopian debuts.

* Find out more about THE WISHING WELL, a THE JEWEL short story.

* Click here to read an excerpt of THE JEWEL.

* Watch the book trailer here.

* For more information about Amy and her books visit

*  Thanks to Harper Collins International for sending me a review copy of THE JEWEL!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this sounds really good! I will definitely put it on my wish list! :)