The Jewel by Amy Ewing is a daring mix of dystopian and fantasy elements that brings a breath of fresh air to the YA dystopian trend. I honestly hadn’t even planned on reading The Jewel since it looked like just another dystopian with a dress on the cover, but I’m so glad I gave it a go! The Jewel is full of action and suspense along with a very cool magic system and a world that is far different from our own. The Jewel also pleasantly surprised me by pushing the magic abilities in directions I’ve never read about before, which is saying something given my love of new magic ;-).
Note: I received an advanced copy of The Jewel from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Jewel by Amy Ewing (The Lone City #1)
Published by HarperTeen on Sept. 2nd, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 358 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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.
- I really love how The Jewel combines familiar YA dystopian elements with wonderful magic and a world that feels much more like fantasy with a royal class and court intrigue. I’m sure that there will be comparisons to The Hunger Games, but The Jewel manages to feel familiar while still bringing in very interesting new aspects, so don’t underestimate it.
- I whipped through The Jewel at warp speed. The Jewel is told in first-person present tense and the writing is incredibly compelling and fast-paced. I found myself sneaking in moments to read The Jewel every chance I got because I absolutely had to know what happened next. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people finish The Jewel in one sitting! I know I would have if I’d had the time.
- As I’ve hinted at, The Jewel has a very interesting magic system called The Auguries. There are three levels of increasing difficulty and they cause a lot of pain and blood to the magic caster. Once a girl shows she has power, she is instantly swept away to a training facility and then auctioned off to the royalty as a surrogate. The Auguries themselves at first seemed quaint, but then Violet started learning to use them in ways I had never imagined and I became quite impressed. I’m really excited to continue the series just to find out more about how Violet can use her power.
- Violet doesn’t get much freedom as a glorified slave in The Jewel, but the friendships she develops are therefore all the more touching. From the beginning she has a friend from the training facility, but they are quickly separated because they’re sold to different owners. Violet also makes friends with her lady-in-waiting, even though she is mute. I was very impressed with the depth of character Ewing was able to impart to a character that couldn’t speak and could only express herself by writing on a chalkboard she carried, but her friendship with Violet was clear nonetheless.
- The Jewel has a bit of a love triangle, but it is not at all the kind we are used to in YA. Instead, Violet has feelings for the hired companion of her owner’s niece, and therefore is on the other side of the typical YA love triangle. While I’m not a huge fan of romance, the forbidden love and pain of jealousy was a refreshing aspect of The Jewel.
- The Jewel has a HUGE cliffhanger. I was very close to rating it 4.5 or even 5 stars until that freaking ending happened. Gah!
- While the plot line and world of The Jewel is fresh, some of the characters and the general feel of the book is very reminiscent of The Hunger Games and I’m sure this will annoy some people. I honestly can’t quite put my finger on why this feeling even occurs, but I definitely was having flashbacks.
- The world of The Jewel only kind of makes sense. There is an island surrounded by a huge wall, which is the only thing holding back the ocean. There is not mention of any other civilization beyond the wall and not really much explanation of the history of how everything came to be this way. I found myself scratching my head and wondering very much how this island setup could possibly come to pass.
The Jewel is an addictive mix of dystopian and fantasy elements that will have fans of both YA genres begging for book two. While there were things that made me less than thrilled, overall I could not read The Jewel fast enough and I will be waiting quite impatiently for any hint of the sequel. Even if you’re tired of dystopian YA, give The Jewel a shot since it really does manage to surprise ;-).
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.