The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Genre: YA Dystopian
Length: 358 pages
Published: 2nd September 2014

Since becoming a blogger, it's a pretty rare thing for me to pick up and read a book I've heard nothing about. I came across The Jewel by Amy Ewing on Amazon, as it was listed in a kind of 'you might like' widget. I took a note of the name after reading the blurb and a little snippet but didn't ever look it up on my favourite book blogs. Then I came across it in the library the other day, took it out and read it within 24 hours!

The Jewel is a dystopian, but it's not the usual lets-rebel-against-the-government kind of dystopian. This book is set in a future where royalty are no longer able to bear their own children (for reasons revealed late in the book) and so they have to buy themselves a surrogate to carry and give birth to their children for them. The ability to become a surrogate is a very rare gift, a genetic fluke that is only present in select girls born in the poorest part of The Circle. Our main character, Violet, was born with this 'gift' and we follow her as she's purchased to become a surrogate for one of the most prestigious figures in her world.
The life Violet leads after being purchased as a surrogate is so interesting. It's very dark, and intense and chilling. I also think it's quite grown up, as it's about surrogacy and pregnancy. As a twenty year old girl, I was more petrified for Violet's impending pregnancy than I imagine I would have been when I was younger! The way that the surrogates are treated is particularly chilling, and apparently there's a little novella that goes along with this book that showcases Violet's friend Raven's surrogacy experience that I feel like would be a great read. Violet appears to have gotten off lightly compared to Raven, at least based on the events in The Jewel.
The only thing I hated about this book was the romance between Violet and Ash. It completely weakened the plot and to be honest, I felt like it was insta-love. The only time we ever spent with them as a couple was when they were either making out or arguing about whether or not they should be together. I liked Ash as a character and I loved the dark nature of his role within the castle, but as a couple they drove me insane.
Another character I really loved was Garnet, son of the Duchess that purchases Violet. I'm not even really sure why I liked him so much, but I felt like there was something about the way that he was portrayed that seemed very secretive. Lucien and Raven were two characters I wasn't really too fussed by - in my opinion, they were mainly used as plot points instead of actual characters. The Duchess was a really fascinating character for me, although I feel like I'm supposed to hate her.
Overall, I really liked this book! It was written well, although it wasn't anything spectacular. The main thing that completely let this book down for me was the romance. I just don't get it at all. I also feel like the ending was a completely wasted opportunity, but I feel like it's probably down to personal preference. I'm so over the whole 'lets rebel against the government' kind of thing in dystopians, and this book was a great exception to the rule. After reading the premise for the next book in this trilogy I'm not sure if I'll pick it up, purely for this reason, but I really enjoyed this book. It was more about exploring this world and revealing it's secrets as opposed to plotting to take it down. (Although there is some plotting.)
I've decided to award this book 3.5/5 stars.

If you liked The Jewel, I'd recommend The Selection Trilogy by Kiera Cass and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.

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