Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen, 368 pages
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
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.
After reading mixed reviews, I decided to go ahead and read this book and I really liked it. The world-building was fascinating, yet so creepy and scary. In this world, the royalty cannot have babies so they enslave girls from the poorest section to act as surrogates (the girls that have special abilities). Those girls are taken from their homes around the age of twelve and they live in a holding facility, leaning to control their abilities until they're auctioned off to the highest bidder when they're sixteen. And these girls are treated horribly. Leashes, collars, etc. And that's not the worst of it, but I won't say anything else.
The romance. I didn't love it, but I wouldn't call it insta-love like a lot of people have. Violet and Ash don't exchange I love you's until they've known each other over a month at least. I think the main reason the romance isn't swoon-worthy is because we don't really get to know Ash. We're told he and Violet have these conversations and spend a lot of time talking, but we don't get to see it. And then, to be honest, he's not the typical love interest. Ash is a paid companion. He's doing it for noble reasons, but at the same time, he's not the typical swoop in and save the girl love interest. Instead, he's basically in the same boat as Violet. It's actually a refreshing change for the guy to be a victim, but at the same time, I think that prevents readers from loving him. You may feel bad for him, but he's probably not going to make anyone's book boyfriend list.
I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers, but I loved this particular cliffhanger ending because we learn something new about a certain character that will make the next book VERY interesting. A solid start to this new series!
Posted by: Pam