Young Adult, Fantasy/Dystopian
Part of a Series?:
The first in a planned trilogy (I think…)
September 2nd, 2014
You Can Find the Book At:
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.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I had heard a lot about it but I knew very little about what exactly it was about. So when I got through the first few chapters, my mind was absolutely blown and I was hooked. Amy grabs you, hooks you from the first page and keeps you addicted.
This book is absolutely frightening. I don’t know that its intended to be so but it is. These girls are raised to be perfect: beautiful, intelligent, talented. They are bid on by the wealthy families that live in the Jewel to give them children. They’re surrogates for these families; that’s their entire purpose in life. And they really seem okay with that. There are definitely benefits for it. They’re given an education and their families receive compensation for their daughters being pulled from their homes. They are told they will provide a child and then retire with other surrogates like themselves.
But when Violet realizes that there is so much more to it than she realizes, I’m just floored. Secret plots and fierce competition between the noble families and absolute cruelty. Surrogates die, get beaten, are covered up, used, paraded around like show dogs, dragged around on actual leashes. It blew my mind because of how totally frightening it was. It didn’t seem to be something that outside of the realm of possibilities. Violet is taught that her life is supposed to be better; differently, definitely but better because of her being a surrogate and instead she’s like a prize show dog, paraded around in pretty outfits and controlled like crazy. The prospect of it, the craziness of it, is just frightening and cruel. There were several times in the book where I actually gasped out loud because something shocked me so badly.
And yet there’s also an incredible romance built into it as well. A boy comes into Violet’s life, a boy that so incredibly off limits but she can’t help but want to be with and I can’t help but ship it too. Its subtle and the build up of it is just…its beautiful. They have to keep it hidden and keep it small because of the expectations they both live under. Violet is expected to become pregnant with her “owner”s baby, amongst other things that I won’t say because, you know, “spoilers”. The boy she meets has an important job to fulfill for Violet’s owner as well and its all very conflicting. The ways that they find to be together and its perfect in its complete wrongness. You know its going to end badly, you keep reading and you just KNOW its going to end badly but its like a car crash on the highway, you can’t keep your eyes off of it.
The thing that really sold me on this novel, and Amy Ewing, and the five stars I give it, is the ending. Just when you think you have a handle on the story, just when you think you have a general idea of where its going, the book ends and completely blows your mind. I mean, completely. I was left, with my mouth hanging open, when that book ended. I couldn’t believe it at all and I loved every bit of it. I’m dying for the sequel. Its going to magnificent and I can’t wait to see what else Amy brings in. She’s a fantastic writer, a great story teller, her world building is superb and she creates an incredible romance.
5 out of 5 stars