Violet is a surrogate. At the age of 12 she was taken from her family to be trained until she is put up for auction to have babies for some royal family. This world is comprised of rings. Violet, and all surrogates, come from the outer ring, the Marsh, which is also the poorest. Life gets better the closer you get to the center of the ring, the Jewel, where all the royals live.
Violet, who is now known as #197, ends up being purchased by one of the most prestigious duchesses, and lives a life of luxury, mostly. But in reality, she is only there to have a baby. For some reason the royals are unable to bear their own children. This part of the book is vaguely explained, but it didn't really bother me that we don't get many details. I figure more is coming in future books.
Lucien, who prepared Violet for her auction, makes contact with her, and tells her that he will help her escape the Jewel. Violet also meets Ash, who is also under the Duchess' control but in a different way. These two begin a very dangerous clandestine relationship.
Violet also occasionally sees other surrogates that she knows from her training. One of them is her best friend who doesn't seem to be faring well at all. Violet is desperate to keep contact with her.
So, between the escape, the romance, and trying to help someone she is forbidden to talk to, you can see that Violet is heading down a slippery slope. And the ending is quite explosive.
I really enjoyed the characters. Violet was so confused, understandably, but she very quickly become stronger, braver, and more determined. I really liked the nasty characters like the Duchess too. The world is very interesting, and although still not explained in as much detail as I would like, I'm satisfied with this first installment.
I loved the descriptions of the dresses, hair, and jewelry, and this book cover is stunning. Right up there with my favorites, The Luxe and The Selection. (Can you tell I like covers with beautiful dresses?)
I did feel there were some slow spots in the middle, but not to the point of frustration. I think I was just so excited to see how it all turned out I was impatient. And, although I suspected the big twist at the end, I loved it. Can't wait to see where we go from here.
I'll be recommending The Jewel widely to my teens. I think girls, in particular, will find a lot to like.
Published by HarperTeen, September 2, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
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