The Jewel by Amy Ewing | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing | Book ReviewThe Jewel by Amy Ewing
Also by this author: The White Rose
Series: The Lone City #1
Also in this series: The White Rose
Published by Harper Collins on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Social Issues, Pregnancy, Girls & Women
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062235800
Goodreads
three-stars

The Selection meets The Handmaid's Tale in this darkly riveting debut filled with twists and turns, where all that glitters may not be gold.
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.

Based upon the cover, The Jewel by Amy Ewing should probably be my favorite book ever. I know people are bored of covers with girls in pretty dresses, but personally, I still love a good ball gown and this is one of the most beautiful gowns I have seen. I did enjoy reading The Jewel and actually tore through it at an astonishing speed, however, ultimately I liked it but was left feeling a bit dissatisfied and kind of let down. I guess I was expecting all kinds of swoons and rebellion. Those expectations were not met. Alas, I would still recommend this book, but to the crowd that maybe wants a quick dystopian palate cleanser as opposed to a book that really requires you to sink your teeth in and ponder and ruminate on its ultimate meaning.

Set on a dystopian island, The Jewel by Amy Ewing is about a society divided into rigid classes. At the very bottom rung are the residents of the Marshes. At the top rung are the residents of the Jewel, or the inner city. Those residents are royalty and titled. The women of the royalty are unable to bear children, so girls from the Marshes are tested for what’s called the auguries and those who have the auguries are forced into being surrogates. They are stolen from their homes in exchange for an allowance for their families and are placed into holding schools where they learn the auguries and are prepped for auction.

Violet is a surrogate. She is named because she has purple eyes. Anyways, she ends up being purchased at auction by a woman called the Duchess who is from one of the founding families of the Jewel. There, Violet leads a life that is not her own. She must navigate the dangers of life in the Jewel as well as navigate her heart when she finds a forbidden love. I will say that Ewing excels at plotting and she’s written a book that has an interesting storyline. I definitely did not find myself bored while reading. Although, I did roll my eyes a few times.

As a character, Violet is quite feisty. Granted, she seems to have a bit of the whole chosen one status going on. I mean, for some odd reason she is singled out by the Electress’s male Lady In Waiting for a special purpose, and okay there’s a reason why but it does seem a bit flimsy. She is a tiny bit of a rebel, standing up to the duchess a few times, in small ways, but it never really works out for her positively. I did enjoy Violet’s love of the cello, but that is partly influenced by the fact that I just saw If I Stay in theaters at the time of typing this post on August 27.

What really disappointed me was the romance. It seemed rushed. Violet meets this guy randomly, I won’t say how because it’s like halfway into the book. However, they are immediately taken with each other, unable to exchange words in public because the heat is just too much. Ten minutes later, it feels, they are in love and she is dumb enough to throw so much away on him and to reveal all her secrets to him after knowing him for a hot second. WHAT EVEN.

I did roll my eyes at the world building in The Jewel. Listen, I tried, I really did when it comes to taking this book seriously. However, the royal characters all have names like Pearl and Lazuli and Garnet, so gemstone names. Violet is named for her purple eyes. She has a friend named Raven who has dark hair. It’s a bit funny. And okay, the island is ruled by a couple called the Exetor and the Electress, but I am still not sure what they really do, beyond gossip and purchase surrogates and buy other things. There are soldiers called Regimentals, but where do they come from? The girls from the marshes have these magical powers called the Auguries yet, they still remain in bondage to royalty which do not possess the auguries. I just don’t get it. There’s like no rebellion among the lower class against their oppressors. It’s a bit of a shame, because this book is so fast paced and does have some interesting things going for it like women’s bodies and reproductive rights and the idea of ownership and the value of a woman being her womb, quite literally. Just, hmmm, that bit was left aside for descriptions of parties and dresses and such.

In summary:

Things I liked about The Jewel by Amy Ewing:

  • The pacing
  • The characterization of Violent and Lucien (he’s the male lady in waiting and super awesome)
  • The idea of surrogates
  • The auguries as magic

Things I disliked about The Jewel by Amy Ewing:

  • The romance had zero swoons because it went from zero to sixty mph in about a second
  • The names of the different royalty and their palaces is a tiny bit ridiculous to the point where I felt like snickering in real life
  • Also the cliffhanger ending

Other Reviews of The Jewel by Amy Ewing:

Readers In Wonderland – “I think the plot has potential”

I Wuv Books – I am slightly annoyed by the cliffhanger at the end

Andi’s ABCs – Holy crap I have new book crack.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is 30 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and baby, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. I’ve heard a lot of (negative) things about the romance in The Jewel. It does sound like this book is maybe trying a bit too hard? I’m personally a bit weary of all the black-haired characters called Raven
    Celine recently posted..Review: Attachments by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

  2. Completely agree about this one! I thought it had such potential and was entertaining overall, but the romance didn’t work for me.at alland either did the world-building. I’m glad to hear you felt the same way. Great review, April!
    Christina recently posted..Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika JohansenMy Profile

  3. Despite the fact that I was unimpressed by the romance in this one, I did love the rest of it! I think book 2 will have plenty of rebellion (and maybe even some swoons with a possible new love interest… I did not like the guy in book 1!). I’m planning on reading the next book!

    Great review, April!!
    Sara @ The Hiding Spot recently posted..Interview & Giveaway with Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Little Author in the Big WoodsMy Profile

  4. I was really hoping for more world building in this one but it does seem like it might have promise for the next book. The name sound completely ridiculous though.
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas recently posted..Review: The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. LovecraftMy Profile

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