Review: The White Rose (Amy Ewing)

Review: The White Rose (Amy Ewing)The White Rose by Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #2
Published by Walker Books, Limited on 1-10-2015
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.

SPOILER ALERT: As book 2 in a series, this review will contain spoilers for The Jewel, so stop here if you don’t want to see them!

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

The Story

Violet Lasting, former surrogate for the Duchess of The Lake, is running from The Jewel and the Duchess herself after being caught with Ash.  Running from the city, learning more about The Auguries and the stirrings of rebellion made for a gripping and fast-paced follow-up to The Jewel.

When I read it…

I picked this up on the 1st of October and couldn’t put it down – finished the 3rd of October 2015.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Actually very little – I downloaded a copy through Edelweiss because I can’t resist a dystopian, even though I thought The Jewel was just okay.  I tried to avoid reviews of this one because I knew this book would either make or break the series for me and I didn’t want to let anyone else’s opinions skew my own!

What worked for me:

  • The pacing: I found this fast-moving, gripping and easy to get engrossed in
  • Getting a few more answers: I was frustrated by the lack of information in The Jewel and felt it was trying too hard to be mysterious, so I liked getting some more information in The White Rose
  • Character development: Violet was less perfect and much more real feeling, and I loved getting to know Garnet & Raven more
  • The romance: The relationship between Violet and Ash is more developed, and less shallow feeling, which I definitely enjoyed

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • Ash: There were times when I liked Ash but there were also times I couldn’t stand him, and I guess I’m just not convinced by him.
  • The world-building: like in The Jewel, I still feel like maybe there’s just too many elements, and they still feel somewhat disjointed, though the information we did get definitely made this less of an issue than in the first book
  • The cliffhanger: it’s sad but true that cliffhangers feel so common now that I was looking for it – and I thought it was easy to see coming

Overall thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed The White Rose, and I was definitely more hooked by it than I was by The Jewel, but it just didn’t wow me.  I liked the quick pacing and the storyline, but I also always had a slight feeling that something was missing.  I felt like I never truly connected with the world, and it just didn’t stand out enough for me to give it more than three stars.  I suspect I’ll end up re-reading The White Rose before the final book comes out, as I have a feeling I won’t remember all that much.

Will I continue the series?

I’ll be keeping up with the series, but the sequel isn’t one I’ll be pre-ordering or rushing out to pick up on release day.

Other Reviews of The White Rose: Ex Libris | Laura’s Little Book Blog | Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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The Jewel (Amy Ewing)

The Jewel (Amy Ewing)The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Series: The Jewel #1
Published by Walker Books, Limited on 21-08-2014
Genres: Dystopia, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

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.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★ (let down dramatically by the romance)

 

The storyViolet Lasting is a surrogate.  She was taken from her family after testing showed that she possessed the genetic mutation the royalty are so desperately hunting for.  She and the other surrogates were trained in the Auguries and then sold at auction to the wealthiest women in The Jewel.  Violet is gone – purchased by the Duchess of the Lake and known now only as #197.

The Jewel is one of those books that seems to have divided people.  I’ve read reviews from people who adore it and read reviews from people who hated it, but one thing is for sure: it’s been getting reactions.  I quite unexcitingly, fell somewhere in the middle!

I thought the plot was intriguing enough to pick up.  It’s perhaps not the most original storline I’ve heard – it has tones reminiscent of Wither, and of The Selection to just two – but similarities are pretty common in dystopia, and indeed in fiction in general, so that’s not enough to put me off! Graceling, Throne of Glass and Poison Study all have some similar elements for example, but I loved all three.

So, the storyline was definitely of interest and I was very quickly engrossed once I started reading; I read it in a day.

I did feel like some parts of the story weren’t clear enough though.  I understand the need to leave some things for later books, but for me, there was too much not explained in this – we don’t know why the royalty can’t have children, or why the girls from the poorest backgrounds could.  I think it was maybe that there were just a few too many elements: the Auguries, some groups who can’t have children and other groups who can, the politics of the royalty, the talents of the surrogates, etc etc.  For me unfortunately, I just didn’t feel like these elements were clear enough, or tied together enough.

The tipping point for lots of people who didn’t like The Jewel was the romance.  I admit, I had somewhat mixed feelings about the love interest, and I did think the romance developed too quickly, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.  Violet is in an awful situation, and before being sold she hadn’t seen a member of the opposite sex in years, so I can accept her swooniness!

 

The characters

Violet was a likeable main character; she wasn’t especially angsty and she had some fire in her, even if she knew it would be stupid to unleash it.  I didn’t feel like she particularly grew throughout the book though and she is also one of those dystopian protagonists who come across as a little too perfect: she’s stunningly beautiful, she’s fantastically talented, and she has unbelievable powers. I like my main characters just a little more flawed, even if it’s just with a short temper! I found her a bit too perfect to be relatable at times.

The Duchesses were intriguing and I’m definitely curious about the politics; I can’t wait to find out more about the society and the women in the second book.  I didn’t honestly feel much of anything for Ash though which really doesn’t work for a love interest in my opinion!  One of the best characters, surprisingly, was Annabelle, who never speaks.

 

final thoughts

 All in all, I really wanted to like The Jewel, but I just didn’t. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I also wasn’t particularly impressed.  I think the storyline has definite potential, and the cliffhanger means I’ll be picking up book 2, but for now I have to admit I feel largely indifferent towards the series.

Buy it? This is one I’d borrow.
In a nutshell: Great potential, but just okay.  Book 2 will make or break for this series for me.

Other Reviews of The Jewel: Uncorked Thoughts | The Daily Prophecy | Curling Up With a Good Book

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