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.
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 2 2014
The Jewel was a neat read. I mean neat in the way that Arthur on the best TV show for children, Arthur, would say it. It's neat. It's cool. It's pretty good. It didn't blow me away with it's awesomeness, but The Jewel was fascinating and I liked that.
The Jewel explored slavery very interestingly. Violet's life is terrible. She has been ripped away from her family and as a surrogate, she is expected to bear the children of the royals of her society. First, she is trained with other surrogates and the training can be quite brutal. Then, she goes to an auction where they auction her off. They attempt to obliterate Violet, and try to take away her name and her identity. They just want her body and her talents.
Violet is angry and scared. They've stolen her life, and I liked that she never forgot what she had lost. The writing was clever enough to give me a taste of what Violet could have had, and I felt terrible for her. It doesn't get better in the Jewel. In fact, it gets pretty bad. I was really happy with Violet's character and her reactions to everything just felt like they made sense to me. It's important to consider the trauma that Violet experiences because when she does make rash decisions that I would usually not like, they make sense in the context of her character.
She has no choices, so when she has the opportunity to do something for herself, she will take that choice. And I can't blame her. There's a lot of trauma in knowing that you have no future, that you are disposable, that you are utterly invisible.
I also liked that Ewing tackled Violet's master in a way that humanized her. It would be overly simplistic to just say that she's terrible and completely evil. She can be, and definitely is, those things, but she is also more. Ewing's depiction of a slave owner was fascinating because she does ask the tough questions about the lack of morality of the situation, and her character responds. She doesn't respond with conviction, and it's a bit of a cruel response because it defers to "this is the way the world is", but that's what I believe makes this story so interesting; that makes sense. The characters act in really reasonable ways based on their character building and it's actually quite tidy.
The Jewel is not exactly a character story... I think I would call it a situation or theme story, because the most fascinating parts of it is the terrible life Violet is forced to live and the situation's impact on her character. The plot to The Jewel is not particularly engaging, (at least to me) and I frankly just enjoyed reading and learning about the world through Violet's eyes. In any case, I did like The Jewel and I'm curious to read the sequel. Apparently, this is a duology so I'm curious to see where Violet's story goes.