Thursday 11 September 2014


Title: The Jewel
Series: The Lone City
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 2nd September 2014

BLURB from Goodreads
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.

As my daughter had recently read this one and highly recommended it to me. I do love the dystopian genre so I'll be interested to learn what type of society this book is set in.

I received an e-arc of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
There are two covers for this book, the one US one above, with the main character as she is known as Lot 197 on the cover when she is living in The Jewel. The alternative cover , the UK one (pictured below) also has the main character on it but from a different scene in the book. I will further discuss and describe the covers in a separate section withing this post as I feel at this stage I could go on and on forever telling just enough but holding back major spoilers with this book. I truly loved it!
The book and it's dystopian society are set in The Lone City. The Lone City is made up of five circles, the outer circle being "The Marsh" and the home of the poorest. Those from the marsh work in the inner circles as labourer's. Then the next circle is "The Farm" where all the City's food is grown. So all those in The Farm work on the farms. The next circle is "The Smoke" which contains all the industry and factories and their workers. The next circle is called "The Bank" and has merchants shops etc. The final inner most circle is called "The Jewel" and as it's name suggests has the Royalty living within it. The Royalty are the founding members of Lone City. In the very beginnings of the Lone City there were four founding houses that were in charge of building the wall that encircles Lone City. The four founding families are Lake, Scales, Stone and Rose, and at the head of everything is The Elecktor and his wife The Electress. Life inside The Jewel is , or would be perfect apart from one thing, non of the women in it can successfully carry a child. So when they want children they purchase a "Surrogate" to fulfill that requirement for them. All surrogates are taken from the females born in the Marsh. It's quite ironic that those who have everything they could wish for materialistically need a poor member of the Marsh to give them what they need for their family lines to continue. The females from the Marsh have special  powers which in this society are called "Auguries". The surrogates are graded on their Auguries abilities, which are Colour the easiest one to master, then Shape, and finally the hardest augury of Growth. The higher the surrogates score the higher price they bring. The way the surrogates are sold is by Auction. there is an Auction every year.
The book starts with the main character Violet Lasting, as she is living her last days in the Southgate holding facility. There are four holding facilities, Southgate, Northgate, Westgate and Eastgate. The holding facilities vary a little with Northgate being considered the harshest, and Southgate being thought of as a softer holding facility. When girls grow into womanhood/puberty they are called to have a blood test which reveals if they have the Auguries that are needed to be a surrogate and carry a child for the Royalty of the Jewel. If they are chosen they are taken from their homes to a holding facility. They do not get to visit their families again until the day before they go to Auction.
This book begins with Violet Lasting waking up in the Southgate on the last day of her life as she has been living it in the holding facility. It's Violet's last day of "freedom" though you couldn't call the regimented life style in a holding centre as freedom. On the Surrogates last day at the holding centre they are allowed to visit their old homes in the Marsh. Violet visits her mother, brother Ochre and sister Hazel. Violet's mother is proud of her daughter and clearly loves her and misses her but there is nothing she can do to prevent her daughter being auctioned off. Ochre is also pleased to see his sister and proud to tell her he is working now in the Farm circle. The only one who initially seems to not want to see Violet is her youngest sister Hazel. It is a quite understandable reaction when you contemplate that Hazel was very young when Violet was taken to the holding facility. Hazel does slowly remember all the little things and bedtime stories she shared with Violet, so when the time comes to say goodbye though there are many tears, it goes as well as saying goodbye to your family forever can do.
The surrogates go through a ceremony at the train station where other younger surrogate's watch them go on the train that will transport them to the Auction. Once the surrogates are on the train they are given tablets, and just fall asleep. When they awake, the preparation for the Auction begins. Violet is prepared by a "Lady In Waiting" who is actually a male called Lucien. Lucien does Violet's or as she is now known Lot 197 hair and make up and finds a dress for her to wear. Violet is also allowed to look in a mirror which is something that is not allowed at the holding facilities. Violet stares at the mirror seeing herself for the first time in many years and see's her violet eyes staring back at her, which makes her think of her parents who named her after the colour of her eyes.
The Auction consists of each surrogate being taken one by one in the order of their grading. Before the surrogates go through to the actual auctioning room they are all put together in the waiting room. It's their last chance to see their friends from the holding facility as well as seeing the girls from the other facilities. Violet or Lot 197 her new "name" see's her friend from Southgate Raven Lot 192. When Raven Lot 192 is taken into the auction room, the fear hits Violet/Lot 197, as she looks around at the other three remaining girls she sees two typical mean girls and one smaller frail looking girl, who also looks fearful like herself. She speaks to the girl who reveals her name is Lot 200, the highest rated surrogate. Lot197 naturally has yet to accept that all surrogates are "just numbers" and introduces herself as Violet to Lot 200 who reveals she is/was called Dahlia.
The life of a surrogate basically depends on who they are bought by and how they behave towards their purchaser. On (Lot 197) Violets first meeting with the Duchess Of The Lake begins with the Duchess slapping her hard across the face. This treatment is to show Violet that there will be punishments if she doesn't do as her buyer wishes. There is lots of posturing and showing off of the surrogates. One shocking thing revealed on one outing to the home of the Electress to express condolences for the death of her surrogate Lot 200. All the surrogates and their Mistresses are dressed in black. the surrogates have black choker style adornments to their necks. Violet is shocked to discover that her velvet choker is in fact so her mistress, The Duchess Of The Lake can hook a leash to it! Surrogates are really considered more like accessories. Some are treat well and if the surrogate does as she is told, she is fed the finest foods, wears the finest clothes and has gifts lavished upon them. However the moment they step out of line, they can quite literally be crushed.
The Royals of society revolve around making good arranged marriages, and being the current royal line in favour of the Elector and Electress. there's lies, betrayals, and even murder. there is also a nod to years gone by in that Violets owner, the Duchess Of The Lake arranging a male companion called Ash for her niece. The young man is bought in similar way a surrogate is. Though when he is no longer needed he is sold to another family.
Naturally the life of a surrogate is lonely and one of servitude. Violet discovers that her friend Raven is close by and they begin secretly leaving coded "messages" for each other to let each other know they are not alone. The reality of the life of a surrogate is once they have delivered there purpose they are considered no long of use . . . .but where do they go and what happens? I think it is the common feelings of loneliness and servitude that bring Violet and Ash together in a forbidden relationship. The only other person Violet has to talk to is her version of a "lady in waiting" Annabelle, who does become very attached to Violet perhaps more so than she should. Annabelle has feelings of isolation as she cannot speak, and carries a slate and chalk to communicate with Violet.
No one seems to know. . . except one person that reaches out to Violet, and stays in touch with her via a special form of communication called Arcana's. They are the only safe way for the person offering the escape can speak to Violet without risking them both being found out. Everything is planned for her escape, but the plan drastically changes at the last moment with Violet willing to sacrifice herself for her old Southgate friend Raven. Violet feels that once Raven is rescued, she herself can be the next one to escape. However events take a dire turn when her relationship with Ash is discovered. It seem's all is lost but at the very end of the book there is a glimmer of hope of survival and possible escape from the Jewel. 
When I look back at how much I have written I readily admit to being more "gushy" than usual about this book. I mean I've waited for a few days before writing about this book to try and just discuss main points but its been even more difficult reviewing a book I loved than something I didn't like! I feel I could talk forever about this book, there's so much that goes on, fantastic characters to learn about as well as discovering everything about the society and its customs and traditions. Amy Ewing gives in depth detailing about all the lavish dresses worn by the Surrogate which I thoroughly enjoyed even though I wouldn't call myself a typical girly-female! I also loved the repetition of the phrase the surrogates were trained to use and say to themselves when using their Auguries. "Once to see it, Twice to see it in your mind, Thrice to bend it to your will" It is another out of our normal world yet it originates in this dystopian holding facility as a learning tool. This phrase would have also made an extraordinary byline for a cover too. 
So did I enjoy the book? I totally truly adored every word of it! Would I recommend the book? Yes I highly recommend this book. I think if you have read The Selection Series by Kiera Cass, The Chemical Garden Series by Lauren DeStefano, The Registry Series by Shannon Stoker or The Matched Series by Ally Condie you would love this book too.
Would I want to read more of this series? Ooo yes please! When? I'm (im)patiently waiting already! Would I want to read other titles by this Amy Ewing? Yes I loved the writing style of Amy Ewing, and would put it on par with Kiera Cass, Lauren DeStefano, Shannon Stoker, Ally Condie, and Veronica Roth.

If you'd like to know more about Amy Ewing and what comes next after this great book, drop by my daughter's blog Rai29BookReadNReview and read her Interview with Amy Ewing! and if you'd like a second opinion on the book here's a link to Rachel's Review!


                     (UK Cover)                              (US Cover)   

US Cover
As I said above as part of my review, there are two covers for this book. I think I've seen the US one above right more frequently. The US book has the main character  Lot 197 on the cover when she is living in The Jewel. All the silver on the and the gorgeous dress show the sumptuous side of life in the Jewel Circle of The Lone City. The way the female on the cover is curled up as small as possible to me represents how a surrogate is made to feel very small in a larger luxurious world around them. The byline featured on this copy of the book is "The power to choose, comes with a price", this could refer to the power the Royalty have to choose a surrogate and the price referring to the amount of money they will pay for what is considered a quality surrogate. The higher the Lot No of a Surrogate the more power they wield within the auguries of colour, shape and growth. One surrogate named Lily, in the book is rated and given the Lot No 53 so she would be bought for a cheaper price and probably by a lower ranking royal. 
Would the cover alone make me pick this book up from a book store shelf? Definitely! It would be picked up, blurb checked out and taken straight to that till to be bought!

UK Cover
The alternative cover , the UK one (pictured above) also has the main character on it but from a different scene in the book. The scene this cover depicts is from Auction Day, when Lucien a lady-in-waiting has done Violet's hair and make-up and unusually allowed Violet/Lot 192 a choice in which dress to wear. Violet/Lot 192 choose a beautiful but simplistically designed dress for her auction, that matches her striking Violet eyes. 
The byline featured on this books is, "Today is my last day as Violet Lasting. Tomorrow I become Lot 197." This wording is also used in the book. the statement hints of the harshness to come, and how surrogates are viewed. Surrogates are not even allowed to keep their name, even that is removed, as well as anything else they may have of their old life. When your name is taken from you and replaced by a Lot number. Being given your Lot No is the first action that begins your new life as a surrogate. On this cover Lot 192 is standing on the stage being looked over and bid on by the Royalty. I like the colours used on this cover too. It depicts the starkness of the stage. It gives you a feeling of how alone and small  the Lots must feel as they are bid on just sold to the highest bidder. Then taken away to their new home and mistress.
Would the cover alone make me pick this book up from a book store shelf? Yes, I would feel drawn to the cover to want to pick it up and read the blurb. This cover reminds me of The Selection Series by Kiera Cass covers.

Cover Comparison Sum-Up
So which cover do I prefer? Well I really love both, but if I had to choose just one I think it would the US one, as it represents both Violet/Lot 197 feeling small and alone as well as the luxury and glitz and glamour the Jewel and it's royalty. Where as the UK cover concentrates more on the actual day of the Auction with the feeling Violet/Lot 197 must have felt of loneliness and fear of what is to come next.
So if YOU absolutely had to pick just one of the covers which would be your choice?

Have you purchased The Jewel by Amy Ewing yet?
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