by Amy Ewing
Series: Jewel (Book 1)
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (September 2, 2014)
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The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet finds herself living in the Jewel as a servant at the estate of the Duchess of the Lake. Addressed only by her number—#197—Violet is quickly thrown into the royal way of life. But behind its opulent and glittering facade, the Jewel hides its cruel and brutal truth, filled with violence, manipulation, and death.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her life . . . all while trying to stay alive. But before she can accept her fate, Violet meets a handsome boy who is also under the Duchess's control, and a forbidden love erupts. But their illicit affair has consequences, which will cost them both more than they bargained for. And toeing the line between being calculating and rebellious, Violet must decide what, and who, she is willing to risk for her own freedom.
Dear The Jewel,
Now I'll be the first to admit that I was a little hesitant to read you, but that was mostly because the few reviews I saw about you were, well, less than stellar. Sure, I'm a little late to the bandwagon, but I finally said, "Enough is enough," and plopped down to read you. I'm happy to say that I don't agree with the negative reviews I saw. In fact, I see why some might not enjoy you, but that definitely was NOT the case with me. I was in a huge blogging/reading slump for the month of December. Yes, a month! But you cured me of my slump! Yes, YOU, The Jewel.
You follow the story of Violet, who was born & raised in the poorer part of her village, and as a result of her blood, is forced to train to be a surrogate for a surrogacy auction in the wealthier districts. Violet is purchased by the Duchess of the Lake, and quickly learns that her days of being child-free are disappearing. With lies, backstabbing, and violence, the city of Jewel is cloaked with mystery, and when Violet falls for a forbidden boy, the consequences of that romance turn out to be much more than they bargained for.
I thought you were a great, refreshing take on the whole dystopian genre. It's not very often that you see a book that deals with issues of 'companions' or 'surrogates' these days. Violet was a unique character, and I felt so horrible for her that she was having to go through all of this just because her blood gave her these special powers called Augeries, which she can use to change the shape, color, and growth of things. Her owner, the Duchess, is kind of a psychopath. One minute she is endearing and the next she flies off the handle. I couldn't imagine living like Violet, and being drug around ON A LEASH to frivolous parties. Surrogates are treated like dogs, and it was sickening to read, but I couldn't get enough of it.
I'll take a moment to address some of the issues that people had with you, The Jewel, which I understand on some levels. I, personally, thought the majority of the names of characters were annoying, and some of the royalty was hard to keep up with with all the different Duchesses of...stone, glass, lake, rose, you name it, but it didn't make me hate you. I know there was also a lot of dislike of the romance inside your pages, but to be truthfully honest, it didn't bother me, which is surprising, because instalove usually kills a book for me. I suppose since it didn't really happen until the last third of you that it didn't bother me as much, and furthermore, I could understand why they fell for each other so hastily. They were both slaves, and understood each other more than anything, and even if the romance didn't give me the swoons or anything, it was totally necessary to establish. Also good to note that some saw similarities between Lucien, Violet's hairdresser for the auction, to the infamous Cinna. I agree with those statements, because I immediately thought the same when we met him, but still, no big deal to me because I adore Cinna and I equally adored Lucien, as well.
To say that I'm not completely obsessed with you would be an understatement, especially after that killer cliffhanger, which I was in no way expecting!!! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR BOOK 2 AFTER THAT?! You may have cured me of my book slump, The Jewel, but now I have a new problem and that is a total BOOK HANGOVER! *cries* Between your gritty details, almost amazing world-building (which left quite a few questions unanswered, that I hope book 2 will help with!), and engrossing tale, you are a seriously underrated novel of 2014, and I urge anyone who backed away from you because of negative reviews to give you a chance, because you might just surprise them, just like you did with me. FOUR STARS!
SO thankful that we don't have Surrogate Auctions here,
P.S. Oh, and if anyone is interested in you, then they should definitely check you out this month, because you are Epic Reads Book Club pick of the Month! Woot, woot!