Author: Amy Ewing
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Release Date: 2 September, 2014
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss
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.Review by Nara
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 feel like the biggest issue I had with this book was that it's not particularly original. It's like a very weird mix of Wither, The Hunger Games and The Selection. Here's my reasoning:
Wither: Everyone dies early because of genetic experimentation, so girls are sold off to men in order to try and keep mankind going
The Jewel: Low-class girls with Augury abilities are sold off to the rich to be surrogate mothers
The Hunger Games: Not the actual games that are similar to The Jewel. But the high class society of opulence and corruption and a sympathising style coordinator (Cinna)
The Jewel: And again, high class society of opulence and corruption and a sympathising style coordinator
The Selection vs The Jewel
You know what? I'm not even sure what exactly it is that's similar between these two...the royalty based society? The fact that both protagonists are good at music? I think maybe the style of writing was very similar? And they both have a very character centred plot where the "outside" world almost doesn't even come into things (and I want to know the outside things dammit).
That being said, I have to admit that by this point of the YA boom, it is pretty difficult to come up with completely unique ideas. And the political intrigue aspect of the book was actually quite interesting. There seemed to be many things going on behind the scenes that we frustratingly weren't allowed to see from the perspective of Violet. But I definitely think these things will be explored in the sequel, as Violet becomes more aware of her role in the tale. In addition, the plot itself was entertaining enough that I was actually really enjoying myself...until....
The romance. *dramatic look*
The romance was definitely what let me down with this book. I feel like it was definitely stepping into the realm of instalove, since the protagonist and the love interest only had about two very short conversations before deciding that they loved each other. I suppose considering the sort of environment the characters were in, instalove might be somewhat acceptable, but seeing as though as a general rule, I dislike instalove no matter the situation, the romance definitely ended up tainting my view of the overall novel.
Oh, and the book ends on a major cliffhanger. Grrrrrr, seriously, damned authors who end on really interesting cliffhangers. I honestly wasn't actually that invested in this series and now I really want to read the next book...
World Building: 2/5