By Kayla Whittle
Imagine a city surrounded by an ocean and separated into several layers, ranging from poverty to the Jewel, the heart of the city where the rich and royalty live. Violet, the novel’s protagnoist. was raised in the lowest section of the city and is forced to become a surrogate to the royalty who can no longer have their own children. She has incredible powers, magic that only the surrogates have. But she lives in fear, knowing that at any moment her life could be ended either by the family who purchased her or by rival families who are feuding in the Jewel.
In Amy Ewing’s debut novel, “The Jewel,” she takes several elements from popular dystopian novels, like an oppressive society and an imprisoned heroine. But she doesn’t do much to make them innovative in her story. While some parts of the novel are interesting, most of the events fall flat. The novel also lacks character development in the lackluster framework. Violet basically has her freedom taken from her as soon as it’s discovered that she has the powers that decide she will be a surrogate for the royalty of the city.
Yet instead of trying to free herself or help her friends who have also been sold, Violet spends most of her days wandering aimlessly through her new mansion home. She attends parties and wears fancy dresses, all while feeling endlessly sorry for herself.
The most problematic part of the novel was the attempt at a love interest. This plot point doesn’t appear until a little over halfway through the book and is rushed through so quickly, it’s nearly laughable. Violet meets a boy in the palace, toward whom she obviously feels an immediate attraction. Yet after they illicitly meet with each other only a few times, they are already declaring their love and Violet is willing to risk everything, including a chance at freedom, just to remain a few days longer with this boy.
If you’re a fan of young adult novels, particularly the dystopian genre, you probably should pass over this book. Ewing’s novel is just another that buys into the popularity of the dystopian genre. It doesn’t bring anything new to the field and with overused ideas and a love interest that’s anything but romantic, “The Jewel” ends up more frustrating than captivating.