Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Violet is one of the lucky ones, a girl with the ability to help the royal family by carrying one of their babies -  a girl raised in the poorest ring who will one day live in Jewel the rich centre of their world.  It is a great honour to help the royal family who are unable to have children of their own, and for years Violet and the other girls have been groomed and trained for their future life.  They are given plenty of food to eat, learn skills to impress their future mistresses, but they also have no contact with their families and must live with the knowledge that they will be sold at auction and become the property of their new mistress.  It seems a distant thing to worry about until the day Violet's own auction arrives and she has to leave the only world she has ever known behind.

The world of Jewel is just as decadent and amazing as promised, but Violet soon realises that her life and body are not her own and that she is not truly safe.  Her new mistress is not what she expected and her new home is full of surprising luxury and uncertain demands.  It appears that she has some control over the baby that will grow inside her, but both her mistress and the doctor seem to be keeping information from her as they exchange knowing looks.  The more time she spends in the house the more danger she faces, especially when one of the other surrogates from her auction is murdered.  When an unexpected ally reaches out to help her Violet must choose her fate - but at what cost?

The Jewel is the first book in a new series and it is a surprisingly deep and emotional read, one that drills deeper into the dystopian genre/idea than a lot of the other novels that all the rage at the moment.  In many respects this is a truly dystopian novel because it starts with hope and promise, and it is only as the story progresses that we realise that there is something very rotten at the core of Violet's story and the society she lives in.  It is very easy to slip into Violet's world and to see that world through her eyes as the different layers of lies and illusions are removed day by day. 

In a lot of ways it is very refreshing to read The Jewel because it doesn't treat teenagers as idiots or as delicate flowers that need protecting from the horrors of the world, yet at the same time it is not about gratuitous violence or shocking scenes designed to provide cheap thrills.  Too often I have read books where the story seems to be about cashing in on the latest craze without too much effort, but that is simply not the case here and I sincerely hope that more people give The Jewel the benefit of the doubt despite the apparent clichéd content because this is a treasure that deserves to be found - richly imagined, lovingly crafted and polished, and flawlessly delivered for your entertainment and reading pleasure.  The only disappointment here is having to wait for the next book in the series to see what happens next!

If you really enjoy The Jewel and want to try an equally stunning debut then make sure you read Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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