The Lone City #1
by Amy Ewing
Published on September 2, 2014 by HarperTeen
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
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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 royalty—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.
You know, the marketing teams for these YA dystopians know how to get you. They pair a pretty girl in a pretty dress against a simple title that offers a mysterious aura to it. Then within this beautifully wrapped diamond is coal. Black, sooty, coal meant to fuel your intrigue further. Much like The Selection, I bought this book anticipating greatness and leaving with disappointment.
I absolutely hated the protagonist. More and more, these dystopian girls are just downright horrid to read about. Violet Lasting is no exception and perhaps one of the worst I’ve seen. She’s clueless yet somehow something miraculous. Everyone wants her to play test tube for her child. Because that’s what Violet was raised to be — a
slave surrogate to whatever wealthy woman bought her. Alright, now here I am waiting to see this book make some comment about this whole pseudo-slavery business. Violet holds so much potential then drops the ball. There’s nothing to her personality. Nada. If it wasn’t for the slightly above-average writing of Ewing, I wouldn’t have finished the book at all. As it were, it was a struggle all the same.
So she sucks, can’t get much worst. Then BOOM, did someone order a fresh cup of insta-love? If I hadn’t been reading on my Nook, I likely would have quite literally thrown the book across the room. She falls in love with McDreamy essentially overnight. And let’s not forget the massive amounts of cliches, staring into each other’s eyes and all that gooey grossness. Even The Selection handled the romance better and it had, by far, a worse love-triangle going on.
The romance. I just couldn’t deal with it.
Put the book down. Read another.
Came back to gushing Violet.
Read another book.
Four books later and I finally stomached my way through the teenage crush to finish out the book where it picked up…only to stop mid-action and moving to the sequel (which I’ve yet to bother reading).
As a whole, The Jewel offered the potential for an interesting world. Ewing brought the idea of a group of women kept as surrogates for the wealthy and combined it with a dystopian feel and elements of fantasy — almost magic, really. Cool, magic, let’s look at that.
I like fantasy. In fact, I’d consider it my favorite genre. This book didn’t have enough and left too many things open. Somehow bird-brained Violet is super special and strong when it comes to Auguries (magic with a new name) that makes her coveted. Okay, so these Auguries. What are the rules of this magic? Couldn’t tell you. Why is she so much stronger than other surrogates? Ask the author? She’s just that great.
Speaking of questions, I had a few more:
- Why surrogates? What happened that this society needed to make a subset of the female population pets to the wealthy?
- Who decided everyone should be named based on colors?
- Actually, who named this city? The Farm? The Smoke? The Jewel? Real creative here…
- Do the surrogates really need to be so ignorant?
- Did Ewing read The Handmaid’s Tale? If so, perhaps Ms. Atwood could give her a few tips…
This one goes in my books alongside The Selection. Beware beautiful girls in ballgowns in the young adult section. They’re likely another terrible dystopian.