Series: The Lone City, #1
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
Amy Ewing’s The Jewel had such a beautiful cover and such an intruiging synopsis. Yes, it reminded me of The Selection. I think it reminded everyone of The Selection. To me that means I went in with not much hope for a quality book, but with expectations of a fun and quick story. I’m sad to say that despite my low expectations, I didn’t enjoy The Jewel.
The Jewel had so much potential. I think that’s what disappointed me most. It really has an intruiging plot: girls with special abilities (called the Auguries) being auctioned off to the highest royal bidder. They’re then being used as slaves of very special kind… But what exactly their ‘job’ entails I consider a spoiler. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty and I was really interested in this world and what these girls had to go through.
Unfortunately, I felt this potential wasn’t tapped in to. The way the twists were revealed felt dry and boring to me, and I didn’t care for the characters at all. That may also have been the reason the unveiling of the twists felt boring: I just didn’t care. The main reason I didn’t care for our main character is because she didn’t have any personality. Yes, she defied the Duchess sometimes, but mostly she just stays silent in a corner, making me feel that she has no more personality than a dishcloth. Of course, our main character is “special”. She has purple eyes, which she was named after (“Violet”). She had very high potential (she was #197 on a list of 200, with 200 being the highest). She’s the first person in decades to get a perfect score on her third Augury test. People constantly tell her how much potential and power she had. I’m sorry, am I sensing a case of Special Snowflake Syndrome?
And while our main character is so very powerful and special, all the other women are portrayed as useless. Let me count the ways women were portrayed. All the women in power (aka the Duchesses) were portrayed as evil. They were either really rude to their surrogates, or planning some extremely awful things. There was not a single women in a position of power that was made out to be ‘good’. Then, there are the other surrogates. First, there’s Lily, who is looked down upon by Violet because she likes gossip and such. Then, there are the other powerful surrogates (#190 – #200), whom all end up being broken in spirit or dead. Lastly, there’s one woman (the Duchess’ niece) in a position of arguable power, not broken in spirit or anything. Except… she’s made out to be the antagonist and looked down upon by all other women in the book. That’s right. There’s not a single woman in this book, except for our protagonist, that is portrayed in a favourable way. There you go. What a great message to send out.
Then, of course, there is the romance. I have to admit I was enjoying this book… right up until the love interest shows up. Because this is what happens: the main character and love interest have one conversation, about their passion for music, after which the MC gets to witness that entire conversation played out again between the love interest and the Duchess’ niece. After that, she literally does not stop thinking about this incredibly handsome man, who “sees her for what she is” and seems to look at her, instead of through her. Hurray: we find one person who actually seems to notice Violet, and of course that means he’s her true love. Right?
And in case you’re wondering: yes, there is instant love abound. Though their romance is “forbidden” and they might get severly punsihed or killed if they’re found out, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other after two conversations. Suddenly, they’re kissing and saying stuff like this:
“Violet, if you had webbed feet and a third eye, I’d still want to be with you.”
Never mind the fact that he literally knows nothing about her aside from her love for music. And the fact that he’s constantly telling Violet how pretty she is. Hmm. And, of course, not long after:
“I think I love you.”
Let me repeat: after two conversations. And some kisses. Are you kidding me? You don’t even know each other! How can you love each other then? This romance and I just did not get along, and it really ruined the book for me. Because after she meets her love interest, she’s literally just “oh, LI, LI, LI, oh yeah, important plans, but LI! Look at his handsomeness.” *headdesk*
I really, really wanted to enjoy this one. I went in expecting something fun and fluffy, but I just found myself annoyed by it all. Despite the really intruiging plot (which could have been executed better), I just really didn’t like the romance, any of the characters, or the way women were portrayed. I’m really disappointed.
~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me a review copy~
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