Release Date: 9/2/14
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.
My thoughts on the book:
The Jewel was a pleasant surprise for me. I've read mixed reviews on this one, and I wasn't sure I'd like it... especially when some people compared it to The Selection, which I loathed. However, I absolutely adored this book. The world-building was spectacular, the characters were intriguing and well-developed, the plot was full of suspense and romance, and the the writing was beautiful. Once I started this novel, I could not put it down.
Violet is an extremely relatable character. Somehow she still manages to be kind and good, even though her life sucks. She isn't selfish, but she isn't selfless, either. She makes some less than excellent decisions, but for the right reasons. She's also brave and strong and intelligent. I really felt for her and the predicament she was in. All of the other characters take a backseat to Violet, even the romantic interest, but they're all well-developed. I really enjoyed the Duchess, oddly enough. She's extremely complex. I was constantly torn between feeling sorry for her, thinking she may actually somehow be twisted but okay, and absolutely hating her. I absolutely adored Garnet, and I really hope we get to see more of him in the next installment. I also really liked Annabelle. She is a unique character. She expresses herself so much, though she can barely speak. I really liked her interactions with Violet. I would have liked to have gotten to know Ash better, but he really showed himself to be a good person in a couple of instances.
The world-building was amazing. I could picture the world in which Violet lived very easily. I really liked that The Lone City is an island and not just some destroyed and corrupted America. Ewing showed a lot of creativity in creating the different towns within the City. The Auguries are intriguing and unique. The mystery behind them blew my mind, and the surrogates' lives are much more complicated than is first let on. The plot unfolded nicely and nothing felt forced. I felt a sense of urgency and danger the entire time because the Jewel is truly a terrifying place. Ewing does a great job of showing how much money and power can corrupt people. Also, the story is written beautifully. The way Ewing described things was almost poetic at times. The ending is a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers, and I can't believe I have to wait a year to find out what happens next. That's the only part of the book that irritated me, but I also can't figure out how else it could have ended because the story progressed so naturally.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys unique dystopians. I really loved it. Be prepared to lose some sleep with this one.
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