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A Great Surprise | Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

There’s a whole new deliciously dark world of dystopia and fantasy to discover in The Jewel.

Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

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the jewel amy ewing book review

Title & Author: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy- Dystopia

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Series: The Long City #1

Publisher: HarperTeen

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

Notable New Dystopia

There are a handful of book themes and topics I generally avoid. One big one is pregnancy. It’s just not my cup of tea.

So, when I saw the word “surrogate” in the description for The Jewel, I decided to pass on reading it. Because the idea of teenagers having kids for other people really weirded me out. Then, of course, my friend and trusted book recommender Jen said how great this book was, and I was persuaded to give it a shot.

What I found was a intricate dystopian world that totally captured my attention. The royalty of the land cannot have their own children anymore, so they make girls with talents in the Auguaries give birth to their children for them.

The Auguaries are like a type of magical ability in which girls – usually from the poorest areas – can manipulate color, shapes and growth. It comes at a very high price, causing nose bleeds, terrible headaches and other intense physical pain.

Violent is our leading lady, and I liked her right away. She’s savvy yet headstrong and clever but rash. She’s thrust into a world of layers of lies and deception and cleverly navigates her way through. Of, course, there’s only so many secrets she can uncover, because the political scheming in the book is INSANE.

Honestly, the show-stopper for this book is the aristocracy. How they cut each other down and angle for power. It was so interesting, and that alone makes The Jewel worth a read.

As other readers have said, the romance is kind of meh. It totally has an instalove moment, but I didn’t hate it. It just wasn’t the main focus of the story, and almost seemed like more of a plot device than anything else.

And, wow, Ewing knows how to write a cliffhanger ending. WHAT THE HECK?!?

I’m so glad I took Jen’s advice and picked up this book. The writing is descriptive but to the point, and the world of The Jewel completely sucked me in. I’ve very hopeful about the rest of the series, too.


Leave your pre-conceived ideas about what The Jewel will be like at the door. The detailed and complex dystopian world and the scheming socialites might surprise you. The Jewel was an overall great read, and I’m so glad I had a good friend nudge me into reading it!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Sounds good. I added it to my TBR pile 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  • Yea, I definitely felt like some reviews were a bit too harsh on this book. But I really enjoyed it. Glad I wasn’t the only one 🙂

  • Anya E. J.

    I’m so happy that you liked this one! I felt like such a black sheep loving this one haha. The world is SO COOL and the magic is EVEN COOLER and I’m dying after that cliffhanger! I asked Ewing at a store event if we’re going to find out more about the world and how it got that way in the second book and she said yes 😀 And then cackled maniacally….

  • Jen

    So glad you liked it!! I totally agree about the romance–definitely nothing thrilling but I also felt that it wasn’t the focus of the book. The rest of the book made up for it!