Here is the summary of the book:
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.
Adorned with a gorgeous cover and consisting of lush, vivid and descriptive plot, Amy Ewing's The Jewel, the first book in the Lone City series makes for a perfect new addition to the dystopia category. Brilliantly crafted piece, Ewing puts new meaning to the term surrogacy and the evils of society, rather high society, we don't usually observe in public.
Set in this circular city, the Lone City lies protected behind a great wall that keeps out the raging ocean waters from engulfing the city. This is a city separated into a castes and living as hierarchy demands in their pre-ordained sections. The Jewel with all of its royalty at the center, the poorest in the Marsh on the periphery and in between the farms, the Banks where the traders and the shops are and Smoke the industrial zone. Thus, somehow the royalty lacks the prowess to birth their progeny and thus the idea of surrogacy holds supreme.
By some strange happenstance what the royalty can't do, can easily be accomplished by this in the Marsh with the help of some form of magic that the girls of Marsh develop as they reach puberty. If tested positive they are taken from their homes and sold to the royalty to give birth to their progeny, never to form connections and relationships of their own and be used and discarded after they had served their purpose.
Violet Lasting is our protagonist. She had been tested as a surrogate. She has been allotted Lot 197 and she does not want this job. At all. She is a strong girl. She is very clever too and knows little by little how to deal with her master in the most opportune of moments. A streak of rebellion ever present she tries to bid her time after the Duchess of the Lake buys her. But then in comes the love interest and all of a sudden all Violet can think of is about the handsome companion, the Duchess hired for her niece and in bounces their star-crossed insta-love.
I have no problem with insta-love, a lot of time they work well with the story but here it falls short. The rapidity in which they touch new bases in their relationship in the short time they are together is rather off-putting and doesn't balance well with the story. The insta-love was so not the best part of the book.
All that aside, The Jewel is definitely one of the most brutally original book I had the chance to read. While it draws parallels with Kiera Cass's The Selection trilogy, what with the pretty dresses, the life of royalty, the caste system and such. But where the Selection focuses more on the competition to win the Prince's heart, The Jewel looks to a much more crueler world where the opulence and the shine of the royalty hides their deepest-darkest-blackest hearts and their cut throat nature.
"A vivid, lush and opulent and a much more crueler version of the Selection trilogy"