The Jewel by Amy Ewing
(The Lone City #1)
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, 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.
First things first, look at the cover! It's gorgeous! Before I even looked at the blurb, I knew I'd read this book based on the cover alone. I'm a sucker for the girls in pretty dresses trend. And this one knocked it out of the park with that!
Moving on! The Jewel sounded eerily similar to a book that I read and loved last year, Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch. As I read The Jewel, I realized that it was more like the love child of Perfected and The Hunger Games. While I enjoyed the latter two more, I still found The Jewel to be a satisfying read.
There were parts of it that were easily predictable, but that didn't take away from the story for me at all. It's rather simple to figure out how the story is going to unwind early on. But Ewing managed to sneak in a few twists that were much needed and enjoyed. The pacing was well done, and I found myself reading this book as much as I could throughout the day.
Violet, or lot 197, is a pitiful girl. She is one of few girls selected to be a surrogate for the royalty of her nation against her will. I found it absolutely barbaric how she and the other surrogates were treated. It's truly frightening to consider a world where the life of one is so easily discarded in such an open way for the advancement of an "elite" group. I had a lot of sympathy for Violet, and I was constantly hoping that her situation would improve.
There was an array of secondary characters that left a lasting impression as well. My concern for Violet was matched only with my concern for her friend and fellow surrogate, Raven. The glimpses of Raven's treatment that I got while reading were enough to cement my disdain for the royalty.
The romance in this one was a bit of a let down. It didn't happen until much, much later in the story. And as soon as it did come up, it took off way too fast. Just not my taste, and I couldn't sense a real genuine connection between the two.
All in all, The Jewel was an enjoyable read. It ended on a major cliffhanger, and I'm definitely going to be picking up the next book in this series.