Released: August 21, 2014
Description: 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.
My Review: I am a little conflicted about The Jewel. I very much enjoyed most of the story, and the style and worldbuilding were fantastic. The characters seemed deeply human.
I felt that the beginning of the story was wonderfully handled. I was intrigued by the surrogates and Southgate, and by the descriptions of the Lone City. Violet and her friends seemed to be managing their situation fairly well. (Some a little more so than others, but hey.)
Violet goes to auction and is purchased by a very important Duchess, and her life in the Duchess's (palace, do they call it? i think they call it a palace) is fascinating and deeply disturbing. The whole "consent optional" thing with the surrogates is disgusting to begin with, but the doctor visits and information revealed later take the story and throw it off the edge of the "futuristic" cliff it was teetering on deep into the dystopia cavern. I lovelovelove the story UNTIL...
Curses. It's really the book's fatal flaw. Of course, there are a few other minor things that bother me, mostly continuity-wise, but the blade of the guillotine is by FAR the love story.
Given more time, I would easily have accepted it. Their first meeting is promising, to be sure, and their later encounters are lovely, but ridiculously fast. It takes what could have been extraordinary and makes it unbelievable. Over a longer span of time, I would have loved the relationship, but smashed into the course of a few weeks as it is, it seems more like lust combined with a vague commiseration than the love they're declaring so elegantly. I could say so much more, but maybe I'll put it in a post of its own if you want. (comments?)
Violet's relationship with her best friend Raven is a far better love story, so I focused on that while I was reading.
Have any of you read The Jewel? What were your thoughts?