The Jewel (The Jewel, Book 1)
HarperCollins Teen (CA: 25th August 2014; US: 2nd September 2014); Walker (UK & AU: 4th Septemebr 2014)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)
TRIGGER WARNINGS: This book contains human selling, eugenics, prostitution, sexual abuse, and miscarriage – thus they may also be referenced in this review.
SPOILER WARNINGS: If reading this review via Goodreads, the spoilers are marked. If reading this elsewhere, they are unmarked.
For the most part, The Jewel is quite enjoyable: It’s Gothic, with secrets among the wealthy, and weird science – just my kind of fun read. The first half of the book drew me in, and it was a great time.
I calculated the pages to give myself permission to quit the book exactly halfway through. But the first part was intriguing, so I continued…and in the very next chapter, the love interest is introduced.
I’m not necessarily against romance in fiction, but this one doesn’t work for me because:
-Before meeting Ash Lockwood, Violet Lasting’s priority concern is the wellbeing of her best friend, and those of the other surrogates. While Violet continues to worry about them, it’s diluted because she’s distracted with thoughts of Ash, kissing Ash, and boning Ash.
-Violet becomes jealous of the duchess’s niece, for whom Ash was hired as a “royal companion” (to teach her how to become more attractive to men, or whatever). But as we’re constantly told, Carnelian Silver is not beautiful – she’s either plain or hideous, and has no skills that men like, so there’s no way Ash will fancy her. Also, Violet picks on Carnelian’s name, which seems a bit hypocritical because EVERY CHARACTER in this book has a special snowflake name. (And yes, this is one of those novels wherein not being beautiful means people are supposedly justified in treating you unkindly.)
-Violet betrays her second-best friend (who’s a super-cool inventor, by the way) for Ash.
-The romanticisation of the male being sexually abused in the past. (e.g. Christian Grey, Gideon Cross, etc. As if sexually abused men can be healed by the right woman’s hoo-ha…and vice versa is also far too common in fiction.)
The Violet-Ash relationship aside, The Jewel is pretty darn fascinating. Nonsensical, surely, but nonetheless a page-turner. It’s a colourful world, with an intriguing set-up that I hope is more fully explained, such as:
–They don’t know why only girls from the poorest circle have the strange genetic mutation that causes the Auguries, but the royalty won’t let anyone slip through the cracks. Breaking the fourth wall! This may be an acknowledgement of a plot-hole.
-If stimulant guns and the Auguries exist, and can be used medically, why is it said that the surrogates will die in childbirth? That doesn’t make scientific sense, so I’m guessing the surrogates will be murdered after they’ve completed their task.
-Convenient miscarriages. (As in, Violet wishes she wasn’t pregnant, and she miscarries soon after.)