A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I was drawn to The Jewel because of that lovely cover and the summary, but I was a tad nervous too. I got a The Selection vibe from the cover and a lot of the dystopias I’ve read lately have left a lot to be desired. I decided to read this one with my reading group (Jon, Anya and Krys) which helped get me into it.
The book started off with some similarities to The Hunger Games, some of the characters (Lucian for the most part) were similar in their description and aura and the overall vibe had that feel to it. I wasn’t bothered all that much but it seemed that THG was an inspiration in some part. As the story progressed I saw less common attributes.
As the summary says this story focused on a surrogate- a girl with special attributes (magic) that was plucked from her home at an early age and groomed to be purchased at auction by those in power to bare their child. I thought this premise was delightfully creepy, disturbing and had vast potential. For the most part I felt that Ewing did a great job developing the society and I was interested in the court betrayals.
The magic aspects were my favorite part to this story and I loved all the details Ewing included. I must admit, I didn’t fully grasp all the in and outs of the magic but I think more details will be given later in the series. As far as the world building it wasn’t ever fully clear to me when this story took place but I was able to go with it and not think too deeply about the little details. Overall The Jewel was a fast read that was able to creep me out here and there.
Here’s where I had the most issues with this book. I never connected deeply with any of the characters. I felt that some, like Violet, were developed but I never cared much for her. The secondary characters, such as her best friend Raven, I could care less about. I felt that their friendship had some nice moments but overall I didn’t feel it.
The worst relationship by far was that between Violet and her love interest, Ash. It felt like insta-love and I didn’t feel the chemistry. I felt that Ewing could have made it successful if the moment of their meeting to their feelings of love had been stretched out and delved into deeper. As it stood, it felt rushed and both were entirely too eager to throw caution to the wind after having barely any interaction to be with one another. It didn’t feel realistic to me. I think that some readers will get swept away with the sudden romance of it all but it didn’t work for me personally.
Also, Ash’s personality was a bit hit and miss for me. I could never get a clear feel for who he was. He seemed to jump between overwhelming love to anger with Violet–I wasn’t keen on these switches.
The one character that did stand out to me was the Duchess of the Lake. I thought Ewing created a very successful mix in her character and I was never able to fully hate her. I want to know much more about her and hope to see her again in the sequel. I really felt that she was wonderfully done.
Though I didn’t connect deeply to the main character, Violet, I felt that the story idea behind the surrogates was intriguing. I also enjoyed the intrigue surrounding the royalty and felt that the Duchess of the Lake was well done. I will be picking up the sequel because this one offered an overall entertaining and fast read.