Genre: YA fantasy/dystopia
Publication date: September 2nd, 2014
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'll start off with those positive things. I really liked the world! Not much of its history was explained, but I was mostly okay with that. The structure of the city reminded me of Panem in The Hunger Games (in a good way). I found what was going on in the world to be very interesting. The surrogates, the Auction, the politics--I really liked the concepts involved. The Auguries were pretty cool. The world and ideas involved in the book were definitely my favorite part. If they weren't as good or as creative, I probably wouldn't have liked the book as much as I did.
The story was my second favorite part (mostly because it worked with those ideas I mentioned before). It was also interesting. The events kept me reading and the ones towards the end make me wish the sequel was already released. I want to know what happens next!
I liked the characters. Mostly. Garnet was the most memorable for me. I instantly liked him the moment I found out the Duchess that bought Violet had a son, which was even before he showed up in any scenes. I really liked Annabelle and Raven. Annabelle because she was a nice friend to Violet and Raven because she had a memorable presence. The Duchess that bought Violet was despicable, but I liked how she had a vulnerable side. It made her actions more believable because I understood why she did them. Lucien reminded me of Cinna from The Hunger Games, so I instantly liked him too (Cinna's a lot better). Then there was Ash, who was . . . *shrugs* He wasn't that interesting.
As for the heroine, I really liked her. Well, until the romance. I wasn't a fan of her during the scenes when she was with or was thinking of the love interest. I did love that she played the cello because I could easily see how passionate she was for it when she was playing music. She came alive during those moments. I also liked how deeply she felt for her friends and family, come to think of it.
Now, the romance. Oh dear. It wasn't very good. Since I could see why the characters formed a connection and fell for one another quickly, I didn't think it was that insta-love-y (it may seem that way for a lot of readers, though). So, my problem with it was different. the romance felt dramatic, cheesy, and repetitive. The dramatic feeling came from Violet's thoughts and emotions. The cheesiness came from the interactions between the two. And lastly, the repetitiveness came from the kissing scenes. Two of those scenes in the ARC actually ended nearly the exact same way (I'm really hoping that was changed in the final copy), which was irritating. Most of the romance was irritating, actually. I can definitely understand why a lot of readers would hate the romance. I wasn't a fan of it.
Overall, I really liked The Jewel. The romance wasn't so good, but the rest of the book was great enough for me to give a four star rating. Again, I found the world and story very interesting and liked the majority of the characters. After the ending of this book, I definitely want to know what happens in the sequel!
What book's romance has recently irritated you?