Review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing
Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Format/Source: ARC/From Publisher, via BEA
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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
On one hand, I really enjoyed The Jewel. I felt like it took some YA dystopians that I enjoyed but found lacking, and filled in the gaps. I enjoyed the twists and turns and all the WTF moments. I also enjoyed the fact that some of the YA tropes were called out quickly and didn’t drag on and on like they do a lot of the time. (You saw your crush kissing another girl? Before you get all upset and run away, think about it–he’s doing his JOB. And thankfully he reminded you of this on the next page.) I also loved the idea that this city is supposed to be this one city left, surrounded by ocean. This just makes me think that at one point in the future, we’ll find out what really lies beyond the outer walls of the Lone City, and that’s the kind of stuff I love to read about in a dystopian story.
But I did feel at times like I was getting hit over the head with pretty solid similarities to The Hunger Games. The way the city is set up, the way that these people in The Jewel (a section of the city) live their lives, servants who are mute, a hand signal that the surrogates do as a sign of respect to one another, etc. And this character, Lucien, totally reminded me of Cinna. But I loved The Hunger Games, and The Jewel really does have its own story, so it really didn’t bother me too much.
And then there’s the love story. It’s pretty much insta-love but at the same time, for over 4 years, Violet hasn’t been treated like a person by anyone but her fellow surrogates. So I can see why she would fall for Ash, because he really does treat her like a real person when they first meet, and he does seem truly interested in her.
But then there’s an issue with some of the characters. Some of them act a certain way and then you find out more about them and you think, “This doesn’t seem to fit their character at all.” For example, one character seems sweet and then you find out that they’re not so sweet and yet we are never shown through their actions that they aren’t so sweet, we’re just told that they’ve got this secret sinister side. But then someone else confirms it, so you think it must be true, but we’re still never shown through that character’s actions. (Sorry for the vagueness, I just don’t want to spoil anyone.) And then there’s another character that everyone hates and at one point there was a conversation that made me think that maybe this character isn’t as horrible as everyone thinks, but that isn’t ever addressed. I LOVE complex characters but by the end of this book, I’m not sure if these are truly complex characters that we’ll find out more about in the next book, or if they were attempts to make complex characters but they didn’t actually work out… I’m certainly hoping it’s the former.
Regardless, I did end up enjoying The Jewel. I think it’s a dystopian that, yes, had a love story, but it didn’t focus on the love story and disregard everything else. There have been a few YA books that have come out that were supposed dystopian books, but they really seemed to just be romance books with a side order of a dystopian world. And I enjoyed some of these books, but I prefer my dystopian books to be heavy on the dystopian with just a dash of a love story. And I think The Jewel falls into that kind of category, and I was pleased about that.
My rating for The Jewel by Amy Ewing:
4 stars. I’m definitely interested to read the next book in the series, and hopefully it’ll clear up some of my questions!
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher, via Book Expo America, in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.