Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

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I am a huge fan of young adult novels.

I also hate the term ‘young adult’ when categorizing – you don’t have to be aged 12 to 21-ish to enjoy reading books in this category.

Quite often in my bookstore, I see adults buying copies of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Divergent for themselves to read, and it really is fantastic to see that they aren’t fazed by categorization. There are some other fantastic stories out there that are deemed ‘young adult’ but which I think adults would really enjoy too. These books also often deal with rather adult themes, and The Jewel is no exception.

This first book in a new dystopian series sees Violet auctioned off as a surrogate to an elite royal family in The Jewel. As with all dystopian heroines, Violet is not one to readily settle for her fate. She meets Ash, a handsome young royal companion, and they begin an illicit love affair, all while being used as puppets in a deadly game of court politics. In a world where these young surrogates are treated as objects, or even ‘pets’, Violet unwittingly becomes the only person able to change the current status quo.

With a cliff-hanger to rival that of any television drama, this books slowly hooks you in and, at times, I forgot that it was a ‘young adult’ novel that I was reading. It did take a few chapters for me to really get into the novel, as it starts with Violet at a training centre where the potential surrogates spend a number of years honing their special skills. It took a while to get to the crux of the story, but once it does, the themes the book deals with are quite adult in nature. There were moments where I did actually feel a bit uncomfortable about what I was reading. I think the best way to describe this book is terrifyingly beautiful. It is beautiful in the gilded and glittering in the clothes, parties and palaces that Violet frequents, but also shockingly brutal when it delves into the (at times) confronting details of Violet’s role as a surrogate.

Overall, I thought this book was quite unique, and therefore an engaging read, despite the sometimes uneasy and graphic scenes. It shares many similarities and tropes of other dystopian novels, but in terms of subject matter, it is quite unlike any other dystopian novel I have read. I would definitely recommend this book for readers aged 16+.

Rating 6/10

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