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. (Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
Once upon a time, I got two books for a Christmas gift. I was extremely happy (because no one ever buys me books! What is this nonsense???), and therefor I read them right away.
Pretty much my reaction: uh…what?
So the whole idea behind the series is this: due to fertility issues among the nobility, girls from the outer sections of the city have a mandatory test to see if they will be able to have a baby for those nobility. Except, they also kind of get tested for magic so they can grow the baby at a freakishly fast pace. And they have no choice in if they want to do this or not.
And the further I got into The Jewel, the more similarities between other dystopian novels seem to pop up. Basically, this series is a mix between The Hunger Games, The Selection, and Only Ever Yours.
But they have really pretty covers!
The book starts with an auction; the girls in the series are literally auctioned off to be surrogates for the nobility. Like, they stand on the stage in pretty dresses with an auctioneer talking about them and people bid on them. And they have no choice in this. Basically, they’re sold as glorified slaves to make babies.
Here be the main cast:
Violet Lasting: Our main character, AKA, the special snowflake. She was sold at auction to The Duchess of the Lake so she could have a girl baby to marry the boy baby of another noble family. And, uh, the Katniss parallels are strong. Chosen to start the rebellion (except, I’m not quite sure why?), would do anything to protect her family, and is “strong” and “focused” and various other things that mean she doesn’t really outwardly show emotion. She’s from the poorest part of the city.
Lucien: A stylist who chose Violet and is basically the same person as Cinna. Like pretty much exactly the same.
Ash Lockwood: a “companion” who was hired to (ah-hem) “accompany” the Duchess of the Lake’s niece, and Violet’s love interest. Except that it was totally insta-love. And, honestly? He’s basically the most cliched male love interest who every cliched. And they’ve fallen in “true love” after basically their third conversation.
The Duchess of the Lake: She’s…uh…interesting. Meaning kind of crazy? But at the same time, she’s not, and you kind of get why she’s doing everything, but at the same time, you’re just like why?
And there’s this strange lack of worldbuilding. Why can’t the nobility have children? Why are there girls as young as twelve being auctioned off (seriously, most twelve year old girls haven’t even gotten their periods yet, and you’re selling them off to get pregnant? Shouldn’t you wait until they’re older?)? And why is everyone described as being petite? Having wider hips is better for childbirth, and yet it’s the smallest, thinnest girls that get sold for the most?
I liked that all the villains existed in gray areas, because that happens sadly rarely. And I liked the actual idea of the novel, and I was never bored, it just had some issues. I liked Violet’s friendship with Raven. And the whole magic part of it was really interesting, as well.
Basically, this novel was fine. I’ve read the second one and I’ll read the third one when it comes out, but it was only fine.
So, has anyone read The Jewel? What did you think? Did the worldbuilding issues bug you, as well (the whole twelve year old thing…)?