Series: The Jewel #1
Published by Walker Books, Limited on 21-08-2014
Genres: Dystopia, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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.
Readability: ★★ (let down dramatically by the romance)
Violet 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!
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.
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.