Published by HarperTeen on September 2nd 2014
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 takes place in a world where poverty is detained into four sectors; the Marsh, the Farm, the Smoke and the Bank. In the center of these circular sectors you have the Jewel where all the royalty and nobility live. The Jewel lost the ability to birth non-deformed children a long time ago. Eventually a doctor came along and discovered that certain girls who were born into poverty have the right genetic makeup to become surrogate mothers to the members of the Jewel.
Violet Lasting was born in the poorest of the four sectors, the Marsh. When Violet’s doctor discovers that she can be a surrogate she’s ripped away from her home and sent to Southgate, a type of housing facility for others who will become surrogates. These girls remain at the facility for X amount years before they are sent to an auction. Oh, and I forgot to mention, these surrogates also possess special powers skills called Augries. There are three types of Augries; color change, shape change and growth.
Unfortunately, Violet is extremely adept at these skills and ends up being sold for an extremely high price. She gets bought by the Duchess of the Lake. Once again Violet is whisked away after briefly seeing her family for the last time. She gets a large room, a maid, and dozens of beautiful gowns and jewelry. This all sounds wonderful except for the fact that she’s basically a slave who at times is led by a leash.
The Jewel kept surprising me at every turn. These surrogates were treated like dogs. They walked, talked and did only the activities that their owners allowed. For example, at times Violet could only eat as much as the Duchess did otherwise there would be consequences. She was also not allowed to speak to other surrogates, such as her best friend who was also recently sold. In some ways the Duchess seemed kinder than other Jewel ladies but still, she was pretty horrible. Even though it caused Violet physical pain, the Duchess forced her to continually use the Augries for nefarious reasons.
For the longest time this book just revolved around the cruelty Violet and other surrogates received. Then slowly the bigger story lines emerged which included Violet’s potential rescue along with the promised “forbidden” romance.
I feel like this first book was missing some physical action but I’m hopeful that book two makes up for it. There’s a few characters who are disgusted by surrogacy and want to abolish it. However, they’ve got a long way to go. This surrogate system is so in place that as of now I don’t see how ending it would even be plausible.
This book’s pace was up and down but I still powered through. There’s a great twist at the end that guaranteed my continual interest.