Amy Ewing’s The Jewel is compared to both The Selection and The Handmaid’s Tale. I loved both of those books and grabbed this one from the shelf. The comparison is a fair one but the book stands on its own. Violet lives in a world with levels of society. She is from the Marsh which is the lowest, comparable to Katniss Everdeen’s District 12. We meet Violet when she is at a holding center/school where she learns to perform magic that will help her in her duty. She will be sold to a royal family to help them reproduce. She is a surrogate. For an unknown reason, the royalty cannot reproduce on their own and need girls like Violet to carry the children. She will live in the lap of luxury, have fabulous clothes and attend many parties however, she is a slave. She understands what this fully means when she meets The Duchess Of The Lake. Her world is full of bitter rivalries and scheming. Amy Ewing does a beautiful job world building. She beautifully describes the opulence of The Jewel, the highest of the social circles, the clothes and the magical elements. I especially loved the moment where Violet makes an old oak tree grow. Violet must walk a line between finding a way to escape, falling in love which is verboten and how to be a model surrogate so those she comes to care about won’t get hurt. The Jewel is a great read alike for The Selection series and The Chemical Garden series. I highly recommend this new read for dystopian/fantasy fans.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Discuss Violet’s options. What would you do if you were in her position? Would you help the duchess? Discuss her relationships with Ash, Raven and Annabelle. Why do you think the royalty need girls like Violet? Why do you think they took away her name? What about the lease? Why would royal women use them? Discuss the rivalry between the Electress and the Duchess of the House of The Lake. Why do you think the Duchess gets away with things? Was Ash worth the risk? Why do you think the surrogates are encouraged to have talents? What do you think about how it ended? What do you think will happen next? Why do you think dystopian novels are so popular? How does The Jewel stack up to the others you’ve read?