Young Adult, Dystopian
Ebook, Hardcover, Paperback, Audio (368 pages, HARPERTEEN)
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.Author Site: website http://amyewingbooks.com/
Ewing is an author to watch! (5 stars)
Talk about an involved story. I was utterly hooked from the first time I saw the cover and heard that the book was dystopian but THE JEWEL managed to far exceed any of my anticipations.
Violet had the potential to be just another dystopian attempt at a heroine bucking a terrible authority. While she's not without some flaws I found her to be quite enjoyable. She's intelligent but not exceptional. Her primary trait of importance within her world is that she has the ability to use Augeries to manipulate shape, color, and growth. These factors are what separate the surrogates from other girls. The royalty—essentially a social class that's huge—use them to produce their children. Within their part of the Lone City, the Jewel as it is known, a secretive world of intrigue, violence, and back-stabbing unfolds with Violet and her fellow surrogates at the center of a race to breed. But when Violet falls for her the companion her owner hires to help her niece prepare for finding a husband the pair risk everything. There are many facets to life within the Jewel and love is not welcome there.
I tore through this book very fast. There are layers and layers of world building that fortunately never info dump though I'll admit I was baffled how there could be 200 surrogates sold at auction (each year) when there didn't seem to be that many royal families. I tried not to do the math about a few things that were mentioned but it made the city seem like it had to be pretty darned large. I was very much reminded of The Handmaid's Tale which is an excellent dystopian book that's definitely more adult and religiously focused but no less focused on forcing women to breed for others. I will admit I did not like the romantic subplot at all. It felt like it was an after thought added in to interest romance readers when it could have stood on just the secrets and dangers of life as a surrogate in a race to breed.
If you've read any dystopian fiction with women at the core of the plot I highly recommend THE JEWEL. It's not without some flaws but the story is very engrossing and there is a cliff-hanger ending that's sure to aggravate some. Yet, I found that I loved it anyway.
Notes: ARC received via Amazon Vine program.
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