Friday, October 24, 2014

Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Narrator(s): Erin Spencer
Series:  The Lone City, book #1
Length: 10 hrs 12 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: audiobook received from publisher, ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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.

The Jewel already had a ton of strikes against it before I even picked it up, all rumored of course: the comparisons to The Selection, the insta-love, a potential love triangle, the fact that it's presented as yet another dystopian tale. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, though I will admit that the first half nearly bored me to tears. The fact that I was listening to the audio was probably this story's saving grace. Well, that and that shocking ending...but I'll get to that.

From the onset, I understood the comparisons, as I myself was fighting some serious The Selection déjà vu. First off, the second I heard that her name was Violet Lasting and that she was named for the color of her eyes, my mind wandered to that scene in The Wizard of Oz where everyone's getting glamorized to meet The Wizard and Dorothy asks, "Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?" And her siblings are similarly named, causing me to smack my head in disgust. Seriously, names are important. They shape a character as much as said character's actions do. Violet is a perfectly respectable name...just not when it also happens to be the shade of the character's eyes. It just seems so generic but also contrived...very reminiscent of one America Singer.

Violet wasn't nearly as intolerable and immature, though. Sure, she's pretty naïve, considering she's been groomed for this surrogacy thing since she was twelve, but she was also pretty sheltered, so I'll cut her some slack. She's kind of a speshul snowflake there for awhile, but she begins to really question the goings on of her mistress and the other ladies and duchesses who are all vying for their yet-to-be-conceived daughters to marry the future Exetor, and with the direction this first book took there at the end, I'm hoping she'll come into her own and prove herself worthy.

That romance, though, while not a love triangle of doom, was pretty angsty and probably one of the worst cases of insta-love I've seen in a long time. I kind of get it...she's been amongst girls in her same predicament all her life, with no contact with the outside world and no options for romance either. But that doesn't mean you fall for the first guy you meet, especially when he's a courtesan meant to teach your mistress's niece how to please her future husband. Okay, wait...she did meet Garnet first and thought him attractive, but she knew he was out of her league. Still, I don't think her second choice is much better. Also, I saw no signs of a love triangle in this first book, but that ending clearly paves the way for a potential triangle in the future. I wouldn't dismiss the idea entirely yet, anyway.

The ending of The Jewel also lends itself more to a dystopian story than the whole rest of the book. There were hints of a possible rebellion or at least those who wanted to change the surrogacy practice as it stands before, but that shocking ending really shows just how intricate and complex the rebel situation is. I'm kind of over dystopian novels for the time being, but I do like seeing a hierarchy such as the one in this book come toppling down. The aspect I liked best, however, is actually more of a fantasy element, and I kept wondering why the girls didn't use their Augurie magic to turn the tables on their mistresses.

The first half of this book was spent on world-building, on showing how the future surrogates lived and trained, how they were treated, etc. And it was utterly boring to me. I can't imagine that I would have actually finished this book, had it not been for the audio narration. First, THANK YOU HarperAudio for not drafting Amy Rubinate as narrator for The Jewel. She's a fabulous narrator, don't get me wrong, but she voiced America in The Selection series, and I just don't think I could have separated the two stories if I'd heard that same voice here. Erin Spencer did a phenomenal job of not making Violet sound too depressing while also conveying the earnestness of her situation and the total lack of control Violet had over her own life...and her potential womb.

This book was just so-so for me. I'm intrigued enough to continue the story, though. The things that will definitely have me coming back for the sequel: the narrator, another stunning cover, that surprising cliffhanger, and the magical elements. I think because of the second half of this first installment, I'll be able to go into the next book without all the preconceived notions I began this one with, and that's all a girl can really hope for.

GIF it to me straight:
Not great but not terrible...overall, a decent start to a new series...especially that ending!




About the author:

Amy Ewing is the young adult author of The Jewel, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Find Amy:

Website | Twitter FacebookGoodreads



9 comments:

  1. I had some of the same thoughts as you. the insta love was definitely there and it was nausiating at times for me. I didn't feel the love at all. I didn't see a love triangle or a potential one. I didn't feel she ever had more for Garnet but a "oh hey he is good looking" kind of vibe but nothing more. From some things said in the book, especially in the end, I think Violet is not Garnets idea of a partner. Just my thoughts though. No concrete eveidence. Great review.

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  2. That is such a disappointment and a half. I'm really getting tired of recycled tropes in YA, to be honest. And considering how much buzz this book get pre-BEA, I'm almost not surprised that this book left everyone a little…well, disappointed.

    Good for you for trying to find the good in a whole slew of meh. Lol.

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  3. Aww that's a bummer but I can understand a couple of the issues you had because I had them as well. At least you enjoyed it though so I guess that's something. :)

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  4. Aww that's a bummer but I can understand a couple of the issues you had because I had them as well. At least you enjoyed it though so I guess that's something. :)

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  5. I just bought this book so I'm glad you didn't give it a horrible review like some people did - I'm still going to read it but I'm kind of going into it with the frame of mind that it's stuff I've seen before and not to expect miracles :)

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  6. I was meh about this book. A few things bothered me. There was a lack of world building for me. You say it's done in the first half of the book but all we see is where she is now. There's no history, which is an important part of world building.. Then the romance was just meh and it was so late in getting it going, which would not have been bad had there been more world building to tug the book along. I'm not sure if I will read on in this series or not. I'll see how I feel. Oh and the MC was annoying to me.

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  7. شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
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    شركة نقل عفش بينبع

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  8. شركة سكاي لخدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة العربية السعودية نحن نوفر خدمات نقل اثاث بالرياض ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بمكة ونقل عفش بالطائف نحن نقدم افضل نقل اثاث بخميس مشيط ونقل عفش بجدة
    شركة سكاي نقل العفش
    مدونة لنقل العفش
    شركة نقل عفش بمكة
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    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
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    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام

    ReplyDelete

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