If you’re enjoying the royal-filled dystopian type novels that seem to be the trend in Young Adult nowadays, you will likely enjoy The Jewel by Amy Ewing. Before purchasing this audiobook, I looked at it a few times. Honestly, I kind of cringed at the idea of reading about teenage girls experiencing pregnancy. Call me a square, if you so please. I think it’s the fact that I’m a mother now and view pregnancy as an extremely personal and stressful experience that I don’t want to see someone so young go through. But, I was intrigued by the teasers, so I decided to give it a go.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
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’ 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.
Debut author Amy Ewing expertly crafts an enchanting story full of riches, rivalries, and riveting twists and turns that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats until the very end.
This book is a bit darker than the others I’ve been reviewing lately. Some topics of a personal nature, often glossed over or implied in other Young Adult books, are given attention in the descriptions. Ewing doesn’t do it in a grotesque way, but it definitely makes the book more appropriate for older audiences on the Young Adult spectrum.
The majority of the story focuses on Violet’s entrance into a world where girls are fought over and treated like toys by women acting like spoiled children. She deals with trying to understand why she’s going from a place where she was treated well to a situation of abuse. Ewing spends a considerable amount of time explaining the abilities the surrogates have, which are very interesting, but never hints at or breaks the surface into why, and I think this kind of hurt the validity of the story.
The romance doesn’t appear ’til well into the book, but when it does, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I enjoy forbidden love and this is definitely a different take on it compared to the other Young Adult books I’ve been reading lately. It’s dramatic and juicy, and shines a light on how women aren’t the only ones subject to the whims of the royalty.
The narrator of The Jewel was Erin Spencer. She did a good job with Violet’s voice and the other girls, but I wasn’t a fan of her male voices. She made them sound formal all the time, even during moments of stress. It didn’t feel natural.
Overall, I enjoyed The Jewel, especially the twist at the end. The book was rather short, so I’m hoping the next one develops the world a bit more and gives us more of the romance early on.