Author: Amy Ewing
Publication Date: September 4th 2014
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~
A shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing; The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.
Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities.
Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity – until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation.
I don't know what I was expecting with The Jewel, but it wasn't this. In a good way this time. It was a lot darker and twisted than what you'd think- especially with the gorgeous cover. In that aspect, I read Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill not that long ago, and The Jewel reminded me a lot of it- not in character or storyline- but the message behind the book. The way women (in this case, the Surrogates) are viewed and valued and used and treated in a world that has less morality than ours right now. It's deep rooted in power among the rich and Royal bloodlines.
The Society and World Build set-up is not anything new, it is the average set-up, the poor, the middle class workers, the have-power-but-want-more-power lower ranking rich, and the hierarchy Royals that blood goes directly back to the Founders of The Jewel. But, The Royals can't have their own children- and that's where it starts getting a little vague. We did have an explanation on why they needed Surrogates, and that the poor have a gene that enables them to have children-and others' children without abnormalities. While I would have liked more of a background of before, because I do still have questions, but I'm hoping it will be explored more in the next instalment.
Although the first in the Lone City series is more of an introduction to the characters, the world, the values and a little sick understanding of what's accepting in this society, and a hint of the main plot and storyline is going to go...there wasn't much going on, I know that sounds bad, but wait, I wasn't bored. And that rests on the writing and the characters. The writing flowed well, and it had that gorgeous quality that The Winners Curse had, rich descriptions and an addictive quality that compels you to keep reading.
Violet (or Lot #197) is a strong main character to follow, she was taken from her family at a young age, forced to live in a facility that trains children with the Gene into Surrogates for the Royals, the gene that helps them use their mind as power. They can change objects colours, shape, size, make them grow, and in one case, bring a plant back to bloom after it died. But she's never given up, she's a fighter, but she's also a worrier, but it's not a bad trait to have, and she's not worried more about herself than that she's worried about her family, her best-friend Raven, who she became close within the facility. She's not stupid, she knows what's expected of her, she as self-preservation and up until a certain point, she wasn't reckless either.While I'm praising The Jewel for set-up, character introductory, and plot before any sort of romance came into it...maybe the romance would have been better if it was introduced sooner, then we would've gotten more development with that relationship before things started happening quickly. That's my other little issue with it, the romance, while not entirely bad, it was a little fast and a little insta-lovey, but you could see a connection between them at least.
Although I did have a few issues with The Jewel, it was an addictive, beautifully written story with strong cast of characters and a dark undertones of society's unwritten rules and views, and the need to have complete control and power.