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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thoughts on Pages #08: The Jewel


This book...where do I begin?

I first saw this book at one of my local bookstores and was intrigued by the cover. When I read the synopsis, I was also intrigued...but skeptical.

This book wound up being surprisingly fast-paced and engaging, and I actually wound up liking it a lot.

Storyline

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.


(Synopsis from Goodreads)

Characters

Violet herself is a typical YA Fantasy heroine: strong in her convictions, but easily distracted by pretty things and handsome men.

She is aware of the atrocities that are going on around her, though, along with the atrocity of her position. She knows that the surrogate auction is wrong, and she refuses to be known by her "lot number". She is passionate about all of her relationships, especially the one she has with her best friend Raven (who is also a surrogate for a countess next door). She's also passionate about her music.

Where she falls as a character is with her love interest. The romance itself doesn't happen until three-quarters of the way through the novel, and it feels so rushed. It's passionate, but it moved way too fast for my liking, and it was hard to really invest in it when it started so late. It's also heavy with drama that fizzles out within a page or two. I was even questioning if she was going to stay with him or move onto someone else as the series goes on. Time will tell, though.

As far as other characters go, the royalty are jerks. Plain and simple. They treated the surrogates like property (to a point that almost infuriated me), and were terrible towards each other, too. The political drama was entertaining to read due to how crazy it became.

However, there are some nice supportive characters whom I liked. I was surprised how closely one of them resembled to Cinna from The Hunger Hames, though.

Setting

The Jewel is a caste system at its core. The Jewel is literally the core of this society, which is divided into five layers, from outside in: the Marsh, the Farm, the Smoke, the Bank, and finally the Jewel. Each layer is symbolic of the trade that goes on there, as well as the people, from the impoverished, to farmers, to industry/factories, to shops/merchants, and royalty, respectively.

The society is well thought out, but I had one question through this entire novel: where is this place?

It wasn't quite clear to me where on earth this place was set, nor was it clear what the time period was. I assumed it was the future, but I had no idea if this place was in the United States, Europe, or anywhere else. Maybe this will become clearer in the next two books, but it was something that I wish was made clear at the beginning.

The magic in the story is cool, though. Its intended purpose is chilling (it's supposed to affect how the surrogate's baby looks before birth), but I have a feeling that it'll be used for noble purposes later.

My Thoughts

This book reminded me of two novels: Wither by Lauren Destefano and The Selection by Kiera Cass. The premise was the most similar to Wither, though; in it, a girl is taken to a Florida mansion to marry a man against her will. The mansion is lavish, with every luxury available, including the highest forms of technology.

The setting is very similar to that. Violet is put in a situation where she lives in the lap of luxury, but at the price of freedom and even basic civilian rights. I knew that this place was not ideal, and the novel seemed to make sure that I knew that. I wanted Violet to get out of that palace and experience true freedom.

The book itself was very, very fast. It's totally feasible to read this book in a day, due to the quick pacing. I'm glad the book was paced this way, and I hope the series continues to have this pace as well. I just hope that the subsequent books flesh out the characters and setting more.

I found the book trailer on YouTube if y'all are interested in seeing it. Spoiler: no cellos are set fire in the novel.


I give this book four diamond-studded dresses out of five. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series to see what happens to Violet and the rest of the cast.

Have any recommendations for me? I'd love to read them in the comments! :) Also, check out my Goodreads to see what I'm into and what I'm reading now.
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