Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Release Date - September 2, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  358 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Betrayal. Lies. Hidden agendas. The Jewel is a dangerous place hidden underneath some pretty packaging. A solid premise, and engaging characters made this one highly readable, even if I wasn't fully invested in every aspect.

The writing in this novel is simplistic and straight forward. It doesn't detract from the story, but it doesn't add anything to it either. It does ensure a fast read as it's easy to follow, and concise. It's use of jewel inspired names for the residents of the Jewel was a little too 'on the nose' for me. The other areas outside The Jewel also have names relating to their role in this society (Ash is from the Smoke 'area' where the factories are). This element, while making it easy to distinguish were people are from, just didn't mesh with the story for me. The world building is subtle. There are hints that this aspect has been planned out, especially in terms of the history of the world, but the rest is sort of glossed over.

The use of Duke/Dutchess and Lord/Lady for almost EVERY character became a little confusing. It made getting to know the characters, for me, nearly impossible. This is a plot driven story, and characterization is only a few brush strokes during it's journey. It made caring about these characters a challenge because you end up not having an attachment to them. Even Violet is barely developed other than the barest characterization.

It's not just women being bought and paid for. Companions seem plentiful in this corrupt world. Young gentlemen hired to be escorts to rich and powerful women (or their daughters/nieces/etc). The reveal of these only served to show how far reaching this world's danger is.  The consequences are real, and the author doesn't hold back. We see the repercussions of stepping out of line. We see how ruthless the people in charge are, and what they will do to stay there. We also see what people will do to climb to the top. The surrogates are nothing more than property, and another can always be purchased at the next auction. That fact never leaves Violet's mind (or the minds of the readers). The tension that is created is real, and it only increases as you go deeper into the truth of this world.

Many may question why Violet doesn't fight back more. Why she doesn't spend more time missing her home. Why she seems to slide easily into the world and do what people tell her to. She doesn't seem in control of her own fate. She doesn't have faith in herself. This was not surprising to me. Her background doesn't lend itself to self confidence, and the world is painted as lethal. I think this is one element of the story that was done believably.

The romance was something that I did not enjoy. It was not only insta-love but insta-love built on little else than a stolen moment. The risks Violet took didn't seem to be worth the relationship. Ash and her have barely interacted before they are declaring their love for each other. There is a hint of a possible love triangle and this other boy is much more interesting. Someone that I overlooked as not having a large role in the series, until they became important. I normally do not wish for love triangles, but this is an exception.

This novel's message, and what it has to say about women being bought and paid for in particular, is a worthy message. There is some substance here. I am just afraid it's been lost among the cutesy jewel inspired names, and glitz. That the romance will end up meaning more than fighting back.

The ending sets up a sequel that is filled with potential. Many will bemoan the cliffhanger, but it's one that has me excited. The direction this story is going in is one I want to continue reading. The world Violet is now part of, and the dangers that  are a result of the ending could be quite interesting. This is a case where the world, and characters do work together and as a result the novel captivates.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm I've always thought that plot and characterization go hand in hand. That's kind of disappointing that they aren't elaborated upon.

    I hope you enjoy the sequel more, and thanks for sharing your honest thoughts! :)

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre


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