Violet Lasting’s life changed forever with one blood test. Instead of living a happy life with her family in the Marsh, the poorest section of the Lone City, Violent is whisked away to a holding facility. The next four years are spent preparing for life as a Surrogate.
Violet has known for years that the day would come, but it is still an immense shock to be sold at auction and moved into the city’s wealthy center, the Jewel. In a city obsessed with pure blood and status, the royals are unable to produce healthy children without the use of Surrogates like Violet. Life in the Jewel will mean untold wealth and luxury. But it will also mean countless humiliations and punishments.
While she walks a fine like between obedience and contempt, Violet learns that there is more to the Jewel than meets the eye. Learning more could mean finding a way out before the Jewel swallows her whole. But it could also mean disastrous consequences when Violet begins an illicit relationship in secret in The Jewel (2014) by Amy Ewing.
The Jewel is Ewing’s debut novel. It is also the first book in The Lone City trilogy.
Ewing offers a promising debut in this novel that is equal parts gritty and engrossing. Unfortunately what potential this story has to go in a unique direction is dashed at the halfway mark when an unexpected and largely unnecessary romance develops. In addition to adding little to the story, this relationship is also painfully lacking in foundation as instant attracting quickly turns to what can only be called instant love.
While the flaws in the romance aspect of The Jewel can be overlooked, poorly executed world building cannot. Instead of evoking an eerie world with her descriptions and back story, Ewing does little to clarify the world of the Jewel or the rest of the Lone City. No explanation is given for this segmented society or the construction of the Lone City itself.
Finally, although Violet constantly talks about the pressure she feels to escape her life as a surrogate, the urgency never comes across as something real or palpable. A cliffhanger ending promises more twists and intrigue, but those promises are largely too late. While readers looking for books in a certain vein will find another entertaining story in The Jewel, those looking for a story that is as well-rounded as it is engaging will be better served elsewhere.
Possible Pairings: Crewel by Gennifer Albin, Frostblood by Elly Blake, Eve by Anna Carey, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Everless by Sara Holland, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Legend by Marie Lu, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
*A copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2014*