Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The JewelThe Jewel by Amy Ewing
Published by: HarperTeen on September 2, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 304
Source: BookExpo America
Book Details
Rating: ★★★

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.

The Jewel was an awesome book! …until the romance. But more on that later. 😉

I really loved the plot in The Jewel. I think it’s definitely similar in vibe to The Selection (which it’s being compared to). However, my feelings about it are the total opposite. In The Selection, I adored the romance but didn’t care much about the rest of the plot. In The Jewel, I adore the plot but hate the romance. The Jewel has a lot of political/royal scandal.. and it’s fascinating! Everyone is basically frenemies. The royals invite each other over for tea parties and dinners, but they actually hate each other and plot against each other.

Also, the whole idea of surrogates was HORRIBLE! ..but in a good way. Like obviously it was sad and disgusting, but that’s what made the book so interesting. I mean, the girls are bid on at auction, purchased, given collars, walked around on leashes, compared as if they’re trophies or trading cards (bragging about “stats” or talents their surrogates have), etc. That whole part of the book was really disgusting, but fascinating. I was outraged and felt so sorry for Violet! I love that the book got me so riled up.

My only gripe with the plot side of things was I didn’t fully understand why the surrogates existed. It was only briefly explained why the royals couldn’t have their own children. The author explained how their children died early or were sickly, etc., but I didn’t fully understand WHY.

But then somewhere around page 250, the romance kicked in.. and it sucked. Violet meets this guy Ash, they exchange about two glances, then his lips are on hers, then they’re making out, then they’re saying “I love you”. They have like three interactions, zero conversations, and they’re already in love? Waaaa??? I was really disappointed because there could have been a lot of potential with this romance, but it was easily the weakest part of the book. I didn’t connect with it at all. I went from being addicted to The Jewel to kind of making a “wtf” face at it while reading.

I was pretty devastated to have my love for this book plummet so hard, because up until that point, I was ADDICTED. I read the whole thing in less than 24 hours. I loved it so much, then the romance just sucked! WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?! I COULD HAVE GIVEN YOU 5 STARS!!!

But the book is still worth reading, even if just for the cool plot and crazy political scandals. The different houses of royalty are constantly plotting against each other and it’s pretty crazy what lengths they go to!

The Verdict


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  1. I just finished reading The Jewel and have similar opinions to you. Romance really spoiled the book and made it less serious.
    I don’t know why you didn’t understand why nobility could not have children. Obviously they only married between each others so after centuries of inter-breeding they give birth to children with genetically deformities. That’s why they hire girls with special powers to be surrogates. So they can fix embrion while it’s still in the uterus.

    1. I don’t think it was clearly explained. Like we could only draw our own conclusions. And yes, maybe the obvious answer was interbreeding, but I don’t think it was ever said outright. I mean, with a YA fantasy book it could be anything really… virus, curse, interbreeding, unknown magical forces…

      1. It was not said what exactly caused it, but, I don’t know, to me that was kinda obvious answer. But, as you said, in fantasy anything can be a cause. Maybe next book will explain more.

  2. Glad you enjoyed this one. Bummed to hear about the romance. Insta-love sucks!!! But I’m very interested in the story. This kind of reminds me of a book I just read called Perfected (or Perfection?). It was about a future where girls were bred as “pets” for rich families. They gave them necklaces with tags on them in case they got lost and literally treated them like animals. It was disgusting and disturbing and got me so angry. I really liked the premise. It was so unique and interesting. I didn’t end up really liking that book so I’m hoping this one fares a bit better for me.

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary recently posted: Common Misconceptions About YA
    1. Ohh yeah I’ve seen that book around but haven’t read it. I imagine this one will be similar in how the girls are treated. They put the girls on leashes and talk about their “stats” as if they’re trading cards (like “Mine can sing!”).

      Hopefully you like this one more though!

    1. Yeah, it’s a bummer. 🙁 I do think it’s still worth reading though, even if the romance sucks. I liked everything else about the book!

  3. I really loved the plot in The Jewel. I think it’s definitely similar in vibe to The Selection (which it’s being compared to). However, my feelings about it are the total opposite. In The Selection, I adored the romance but didn’t care much about the rest of the plot. In The Jewel, I adore the plot but hate the romance. -you said

    I get what you mean!!! I hated the freaking romance so I just ignored it LOL I think I would have enjoyed it more if the author held back a bit. And also can I just comment on the ending of The Jewel?! That was one hell of a cliff-hanger/twist!! I cannot believe it!! HAA this book is so disturbing…but I loved every moment except the romance. PLEASE REMOVE THE ROMANCE.

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  4. *sigh*
    I keep reading reviews for this one where people go, “Oh it was so good, up until the romance” WHAAT? How is that even possible? I really wanted to read good things about this one since A) I’m a sucker for pretty covers and B) THERE IS A BEAUTIFUL DRESS ON THE COVER but even though the world sounds fascinating the romance already has me leaning towards not reading this one. Also, i really wish it could have been explored WHY the surrogates existed and why the royals couldnt have children, maybe it’ll be explored in future books?

    Lily recently posted: Ugly Love:Review
  5. Damn, I really want to read this book now! I’ve seen it around and just thought “meh,” but I have to admit that the idea of surrogates really intrigues me. I’m watching Ugly Betty on Netflix right now, and Wilhelmina (antagonist) uses a surrogate, so I thought it was interesting to hear that surrogates are a main plot point in The Jewel. I’m really sad to hear about the instalove though. I’m not a fan of instalove, but I’ll most likely end up reading this book because of the surrogates.

    Tori @ Bookish Affairs

    Tori @ Bookish Affairs recently posted: Book Review: Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
    1. Yeah everything other than the romance is pretty good in The Jewel, so it might still be worth a read. 🙂

    1. I think it depends on why you didn’t like The Selection. There are definitely some similarities between the two books. The Jewel has much more interesting world building (and more development there overall). But the romance, which emerges in the second half, does bring it down. But I really liked the politics and world, which were better fleshed out in The Jewel than The Selection.

  6. I am so excited for this book and hoped I would see better reviews. I think a lot of dystopians lack on the explanations of the whys and whos and that is a bummer. Those are the books that need it so much. It still sounds like a worthwhile read though. Great review.

    JennRenee recently posted: Review: After the End by Amy Plum
  7. *sigh* I am not a fan of insta-love. The plot line sounds really interesting and I was looking forward to this book… But, the insta-love might be too much for me. Not sure if I’m going to read it, but better knowing about it before then hating on it later. Great review!

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  8. Exactly my thoughts! Romance aside, I think I would like this series more than the Selection. I loved the romance in the Selection, but the plot of that series is just… Lol hahaha. But The Jewel’s plot is wayyy better. Except that when I reached the romance part, I was just frustrated! Why did you have to insert that?! It was better off without it!

    1. It was sooo disappointing! The book rocked super hard until then!

      I actually read the second one but DNF’d at like 80%. It wasn’t horrible or anything, I just stopped feeling it, you know? X_X

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