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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.
My thoughts: Well, this was a perfect rainy day book - easy to read, and interesting for a YA dystopian novel. This book reminded me a bit of "The Selection" series, with a bit more substance similar to "The Handmaid's Tale". Violet was born in "The Marsh" a lower class part of this futuristic world. All the girls in the lower class areas are tested at puberty for a aptitude of magic, and if positive, they are taken from their homes and families, raised in a separate school and then sold at auction to royalty and upper classes to serve as surrogate mothers. Violet is sold into the house of the Duchess of the Lake, and quickly finds herself in the midst of a scheme to produce a daughter that will be hopefully one day the bride of the future Elector. The mysterious death of a fellow surrogate quickly shocks Violet, and brings to light the danger in her situation. Like every YA novel, Violet finds a forbidden love, but most of the story is the strategy of her to stay alive, and maybe one day escape her slavery. The magic is a smaller part of the story, but is interesting as these girls, can change color, shape, and make things grow (Hence the value in surrogacy). The cliffhanger ending hints at a sequel, and according to the author Amy Ewing's website, The Jewel is the first novel of a planned trilogy. I would probably suggest this for older teens.