The Jewel by Amy Ewing: a surprisingly excellent read

the jewelTitle: The Jewel

Author: Amy Ewing

Genre: YA dystopian

Length: 358 pages

Published by: Walker Books Australia

Source: received for review (thanks Walker Books!)


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 royaltyβ€”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.

Even before reading this book I went on a rollercoaster of liking it and not liking it.


Phase 1: requesting it for review


Phase 2: reading A LOT of negative reviews and getting worried that I won’t like it if I’m sent it for review.

Crap, crap, crap, I’m going to hate it, I’m going to HATE THIS BOOK.

Phase 3: Thinking I might not have been approved, and feeling relieved because I don’t want to give this book a horrible review!

Oh gosh, sometimes not being approved can be good, especially with my TBR.

Phase 4: Receiving book for review. WHAT IF I HATE IT?

It sat on my shelves staring at me for…quite a while.

Phase 5: Really, really, really enjoying book.

This is not a popular opinion, so far as I’m aware.


The weird thing is that if I like a book that’s fairly unpopular with book bloggers, it will probably seem even BETTER than a book with lots of hype. That’s what I think happened here. If people loved this book I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much.

But I did. So let’s talk about that.


It has a really interesting concept.

I haven’t read The Selection, but I intend to read The Handmaid’s Tale. So basically in this book, girls are made to be “surrogates” for royalty. It’s never really explained why the royal women can’t have children (I’ll explain more about this lack of world-building in a sec) but I thought it was a really frightening and awful situation. But really fascinating as well (yeah, I’m fascinated with weird things). It really made me think about feminism, sexism and the de-humanisation of females that often happens in many societies.


Awesome characters.

Okay, yeah, there were some parallels to The Hunger Games here, which was disappointing (Lucien was pretty much the same person as Cinna), but I could ignore that because the rest was really unique. I LOVED Violet’s friendship with Raven, and the way they had to be apart was so cruel and sad.

Then there was the Duchess.

I SHOULD HAVE HATED HER, because she did awful things, but I didn’t. I was too busy being intrigued by her character, and how complex she was. Kudos to Amy Ewing for creating such a multi-faceted villain.

It was also a surprisingly quick read.

I knocked it over in a day because, well, it’s school holidays and I’m not going to go OUTSIDE, am I? Plus, it was a really fast-paced read, and the writing flowed so well that I finished it in no time.

I did have a few peevish moments.

Why yes, that IS Peeves the Poltergeist. I’m definitely going to use this image whenever I’m talking about peeves.

1) Similarities to The Hunger Games.

I mean, I don’t think it was copying per se, I just think that it needed more originality. Lucien was similar to Cinna, they had trains that took them to their new lives, the world was split into different sections, they had a form of the Mockingjay salute…just stuff like that. And the rest of the book was so excellent that it annoyed me a little.

Plus I got really confused with all the different Duchesses.

2) Some plot holes

Yeah, there were quite a few of these. I definitely intend to read on in the series, and I’m assuming (hoping) some of these would be explained, but I had a LOT of questions – questions regarding the surrogates, the royalty, the auguries…the worldbuilding felt a little incomplete.

3) The romance

It wasn’t too prominent or cringey, so I forgave it, but this story definitely could have done without the romance – I’m going to write a post sooner or later on why not every book needs a love interest, but suffice it to say that it was NOT needed here.

But I did really, really enjoy this book.

It was a thought-provoking, fast-paced novel that didn’t condescend to its audience. YA doesn’t need to – we’re the ones reading The Handmaid’s Tale, after all. Well, okay, not me. But teenagers. And I like that there was no censorship of the idea, that it didn’t “dumb it down” for teen readers.

Can’t wait for the next books!

Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties









27 thoughts on “The Jewel by Amy Ewing: a surprisingly excellent read

  1. I was definitely a bit hesitant of this one too because of the reviews, but I’m so glad you liked it so much Emily! πŸ˜€ It’s a shame that it’s a bit of a rip-off of The Hunger Games (grr!) and that there are a few plot holes, but everything else sounds pretty solid! I love the sound of the complex and well-developed villain and characters. You’ve definitely made me a bit more open to giving this a try! Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review! ❀

  2. I’ve been hearing mixed things about this as well. The entire premise sounds like it could be a bit scary, but I’m glad it was still good. That’s the problem when being inspired by such a popular book such as the Hunger Games, every little similarity is going to stand out. haha I did the same thing with Netgalley and a book, Sinner. After I requested it I read reviews that made it sound like not my thing at all, so I hoped I wouldn’t be approved, because I was sure I wouldn’t like it, but then I was and I did. I enjoyed your review. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Emily! I personally loved the idea of this book–a bit poorly executed but fabulous idea nonetheless. You’re right though. I definitely appreciated how it wasn’t “dumbed down” for us. It’s a bit of a slap in the face but I like that sometimes (please not literally though LOL) Do read The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ll be curious about what you’ll think of it. I loved it, but friends of mine could not get over how digested they felt afterwards. But it’s definitely a though-provoking read. Great review! πŸ™‚

    • Well, I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale yet – maybe I wouldn’t have liked it as much if I had, LOL. But yep, I really do need to read it, because it sounds like a really thought-provoking read. And challenging. But that’s okay πŸ™‚

  4. I’m glad you noticed the Mockingjay salute too!! For a second there I thought, “No no I just misread that.” Omg, I can’t believe it did that. >_< So I wasn't a fan of the book, but purely because I personally think it ripped-off THG. The actual writing was fabulous and the story was interesting. (It's actually nothing like The Selection, lol! I see that comparison ALL the time, but I reckon The Selection was a totally different plot…although, I might just be crazy. πŸ˜‰

  5. Yay, I’m so glad you liked this one, Emily! This might actually give me the motivation for me to pick up my copy… which has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time now. πŸ™‚ I actually really loved The Selection (despite rather unpopular opinions I’ve read of it) so I do hope I’ll like this one.

  6. Excellent review Emily, like you, I was actually pleasantly surprised when I first started the novel. But unfortunately it was the plotholes and the not-needed romance that ruined my initial enjoyment. I do agree that the Duchess was an intriguing and complex villain and the world was interesting…or what we knew of it.

  7. I liked this one more than I expected to as well! But I absolutely agree, there were way too many similarities to THG and the world-building was very subpar. So many questions went unanswered, and I was especially frustrated about WHY the royals were infertile. Because it was said that the Electress was MADE infertile for marrying the Elector. So what? I really don’t get it. I didn’t like the romance either, but didn’t hate it as much as others. I found it was basically a plot device, and the romance was there to make for a shocking ending. I’m with you on the Duchess as well. I liked her because she was fair. She’s not to blame for how her society works, and Violet deserved some of the misfortunes which she brought on HERSELF. Wonderful review Em, we basically had the exact same thoughts πŸ˜›

    • It always happens with first books in series! Well, happens a lot anyway – too many things are left unanswered. “There’ll be more world-building in the second book.” Well, yeah, but people aren’t going to want to read it if the FIRST one isn’t that great! (although I did really like it, lol). Yup, romance is like the standard plot device which annoys me.

  8. I had every intention of putting this one on the backburner after reading so many negative reviews for it but now i’m extremely curouis! I want to read this one and see if it’ll work for meβ€”although i’m not liking the sounds of the similarities to The Hunger Games and the plot holes. Great review!

  9. Although I had a few peevish moments, I really enjoyed it too Em. I thought it was more similar to The Selection series, but where the revolution fizzled in that one and ended up more like a meat market, this series promises so much more (going by the ending, which I was taken by surprise with). The instant love was naff, but it didn’t really phase me all that much because it was genuinely entertaining. I’m glad I’ve found someone else who really enjoyed this one too Em. Incredible review ❀

    • I seriously have to read The Selection series now! I think I might actually like it. NAFF LOL. I haven’t heard that word for a hundred years. Someone needs to bring it back πŸ˜› Can’t wait for the rest of the series, glad you enjoyed it as well πŸ˜€

  10. I saw this book at work! It looks interesting, though I wasn’t actually sure whether I wanted to read it or not. I suppose I could give it a go. Great review! (The wonderkitties are SO CUTE :3)

  11. I definitely agree with your peeve points, although i could kind of forgive the Cinna thing. There were HEAPS of plot holes, and I had my annoyed eye twitching thing going down in quite a few parts. I think the romance was okay to be in here, because YA seems to adore romance, but it just moved SO QUICKLY, and I was just wishing for it to calm and slow downnnnnnnnn. Love doesn’t need to be at first sight >.>

    The Duchesses and Ladies were so difficult to keep track of, right! Rose and Lakes and *head spinning*

    I am keen to keep reading this series, as well, because I found that there was something really addictive about it. High five for being the odd ones out for liking this book πŸ˜€

    • I think that’s the thing – objectively there are lots of things wrong with it, but I enjoyed it so much! Addictive is definitely the right word – I couldn’t put it down. Oh my gosh, though, YES, instalove is annoying. Tacky plot device, I think.

      Glad it wasn’t just me who couldn’t remember all the names of the Duchesses, LOL.

  12. The cover for this one is BEAUTIFUL. The thing is, I’m not sure if I like the premise… I dunno, seems just a bit too much like The Selection for my taste (which, granted, I loved that book, but I’ve found that generally I don’t really enjoy reading books that are extremely similar to each other within such short periods). I’m so happy you liked it, though! And Peeves ftw! πŸ˜€

      • Yesss, I would definitely recommend The Selection! The world building is iffy, but other than that it’s an amazing read. πŸ˜€

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