The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Book One of The Lone City series
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Rating: 2 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Wheee, not a fan of this book. Like, at all. Okay there were some positive aspects to this book. But I honestly don't see the appeal. The subject matter is pretty original, but I didn't like it at all. I'm talking about the surrogacy thing. Anyway. Let me get there.
Violet is one of two hundred girls that gets culled out of the rest of the teenage girls to be Auctioned to royalty women who need surrogates to bear them children. Royalty are sterilized upon marriage, and anyway, they are the best and brightest 200 girls to have their kids. #200 is the most talented in the Auguries (think, superpower abilities). Violet is #197. The Duchess of the Lake buys her, for quite a pretty penny. The Duchess is determined for Violet to have her a daughter, who will eventually marry the newborn son of the Electress (wife of the Exetor, who I guess is like the King). The Duchess will kill other royalty's surrogates so the surrogates can't have children to marry the Exetor heir. But who says Violet wants any part of this?
I struggled with this one, in terms of content and story, but after about 50% of the book, I was slightly interested... I at least wanted to see how things ended. In general though, this book could not hold my interest. I was kind of hoping that there would be some serious deaths or something, ANYTHING to make this one remotely interesting, but eh. See the next section for more specifics.
I will say that the subject matter is pretty original, ish. It's a fantasy world, where there is a poor class, working class, middle class, and royalty. THAT'S not original, but the surrogates thing is, I suppose. I was intrigued at first, even though I was a little bored, but then I was disappointed and uninterested. More below!
What I Did Not Like:
Let me start with the general feel of this book - I was so bored. I got about thirty pages in and wanted to fall asleep. Not even joking. Then I tried to keep reading, got about a hundred pages in, and still couldn't get into the story. I'm not sure if I ever was truly interested in this one - maybe when Violet started seeing the doctor, or getting the idea of escape. I don't know. But I was never truly interested or invested in the story.
I don't like Violet. I don't like how she thinks, how she reacts to things (or doesn't), how she doesn't think things through. She also has zero concept of self-preservation - I would honestly rather DIE than give up my body like that. Is that so inconceivable? I would never give up my womb unwillingly, for anyone. Before the doctor's visits, I would have tried to escape many times. Violet did nothing.
And how perfect was it for Lucien, the guy who did her outfit and makeup and whatnot before the Auction, to be in service of another royal member, and sees Violet pretty often? How convenient that he wants to help her, to break her out? How convenient that he just happens to be an inventor of things, that she can trust him completely, that he doesn't have nefarious, twisted plans? Sure, sure, totally makes sense...
Ash is the love interest in this book - should I say the PRIMARY love interest? I can see a love triangle, or maybe even pyramid, coming from this series. I mentioned Ash, Lucien, oh, don't forget the Duchess's nineteen-year-old failure of a son, Garnet. There is something up with him. You'll see what I mean (if you for some reason decide to read this book). He's hiding something, obviously.
Anyway. Ash. Can you say TOO PERFECT?! Meaning, he knows just the right things to say, he can't stop thinking about her, he's a walking cliche... I don't like him. He's very one-dimensional, I didn't connect with him, and I don't see the appeal. I don't know who he is, what he's like, and I don't care. I just don't care about him.
The romance is INSTA-LOVE, at its finest. Maybe that's what the author is going for? I don't know. But it was rushed and blurred, like infatuation. But Violet is convinced that she loves him, and he her. I can understand that Violet believes she loves him (she's a virgin, kept away from boys, not allowed to date, etc.). But him? No, I don't believe that he sees her and it's all over and he loves her like that so quickly. That's so fake. The romance is so fake and insta-love-y and disgusting, honestly. How quickly do they decide to have sex? Despite the obvious danger and insane situation? You can't just have sex, when you're a surrogate?!
I didn't find the story all that interesting. I HATE the idea behind this book. The surrogacy thing? I get it, it's the author's world, her world-building, whatever. But I HATE it. Writing a world in which every single girl is forced to get tested for Augury abilities (it's magic, basically) and whatnot, so her womb can be auctioned to the highest bidder? The girl is knocked out and the doctor artificial inseminates the egg or sperm or whatever (they never actually say if it's a fertilized egg, or the Duchess's husband's sperm, or what)? Disgusting. Horrible. I. DON'T. WANT. TO. READ. ABOUT. THAT. EVER. If that's your idea of a pleasure read, good for you. I think it's disgusting and demeaning and demoralizing and messed up (would have used harsher language here). Not about that life.
Yeah, I wasn't a fan of this one, in general. It wasn't just one thing that I didn't like. This book was a full package of not-so-great. If you like The Selection series, you might enjoy this series though! *barfs*
Would I Recommend It:
No. Not at all. You'll be bored to tears, or rage like a bear, or really want some cinnamon sticky buns. I'm curious about the next book, because of the brutal cliffhanger in this book, but I don't think I could put myself through that. We'll see. But basically, I don't recommend this book. If you were on the fence, get on the hell-no side of the fence and keep going with your life.
1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars. There is an infinitesimal chance that I might read the second book... it has to drop out of the sky and into my lap for me to read it. If you know what I mean.
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