Monday, 7 December 2015

The Jewel by Amy Ewing: Book 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.

SPOILER FREE REVIEW
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Being a debut novel of an author who once considered this story to be a "thesis project" made me really think about how much talent this author has. When I picked up this novel at the library, I did because I was continuing my infatuation with books about empires and princesses and all that jazz. Little did I know that when I would finish it, I would be completely pulled into the storyline and love interests that plagued the book. I found myself laughing at hilarious dialogue and literally almost crying at parts where Violet was being treated badly. The level of emotion and relatable moments was unbelievable and I don't think I've ever read such an emotional book since Breaking Dawn. I have to say well done to Amy for doing so well on her first YA fantasy series.

The main idea of the story intrigued me as so far I have never read anything about young girls in a kingdom who are born with a mutation that allows them to bear children which keep the royalty alive. They are taken away from their families living in the slums and are sent to a school that teaches them how to control their powers and acts accordingly in order to be presented to the royalty of the Jewel. The Jewel is the wealthiest area of the Kingdom being the very centre of a whole city which surrounds it in a circle, and each circle around it is a different type of reality and wealth. From the Jewel outwards it becomes a poorer and poorer state of life. Violet is from the very edge of the city where everyone is poor and is ripped from her family at the age of twelve to go stay at this school for four years before she is finally transferred to the Jewel to be prettied up for an auction and then bought off to the highest bidder as a surrogate to be their bearer of children.

Throughout the novel I constantly noticed Violent rebelling to certain things and feeling like she did not want to be controlled which is exactly how I would feel in that certain situation. Feeling like she was nothing but a tool to be used and then thrown away without feeling like she was even part of a family or to even have the chance to mother her own child. Knowing that her best friend, Raven, has to go through the same thing she does kills her inside - even more so knowing that she or her can't do anything about it. A forbidden love emerges too soon for her to even process it but she has to remind herself that in her position, she is not allowed to have any sort of relationship with anyone. The only friendship she has, and is really allowed, is the one with her mute servant, Annabelle. I feel a major pang of sympathy for Violet because she will never see her family again through this experience but she discovers some things and not everything as it seems. In terms of her powers she does better than others with growth which is why she was bought by the Duchess of the Lake. She wants to have a baby faster than any other so that it will be chosen and betrothed to the Electress' newborn baby son. All this seems so overwhelming to such a young girl at sixteen years old and I feel so bad for her being a mother myself and knowing that if I were in her situation, I would be going a little bit mental about the whole idea of it too.

Things I loved about The Jewel:

* Violet and Ash are a match made in heaven! These two were so obvious from the start. I absolutely loved every moment they managed together and the fact that they cared so much to even risk possibly being found out and executed. They're so cute and I can't wait to see how they develop in the second novel!

* The idea of the image, shape and growth powers is so unique and awesome! Considering the fact that most novels these days are writing about either the same "superpowers" or ones that just seem too typical, it's nice to see an author come up with something that's different and challenges the minds of the readers that have been buried in literature with every trope on the surface of the earth (a little dramatic but seriously though).

* I need a friend like Annabelle, although it would be nice if she could actually speak! She was the sweetest person to Violet the whole time she stayed at the Duchess of the Lake's house and always spent time with her when she had nothing to do. I loved that she was caring and was so amazing at dressing Violet up in clothes and makeup for any event she was expected to attend. I would probably cry if she ends up being killed off in the future.

* How unique and different the storyline and themes were! If every author managed to have an open mind like Amy then we'd have a hell of a lot more readers! I think some can get very bored of the same thing over and over like a love triangle or a rebellion rising and as much as I tend to love books like that, it's nice to read something that has never been written about before and it brings competition to the writing game. Readers want this to be fun and so that it's more challenging to choose who should win a book award.  We want fresh content and new names and places that are completely made up. We want stuff like this and that's why I loved it so much.

Overall I have given this book a four out of five stars for being such a dramatic change in the writing game. It has different themes and even Violet thinks a little differently from most protagonists which is what I really enjoyed. I can't wait to read the second one and find out what happens after that devastating ending which you'll have to read if you want to know what that is!

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