Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Jewel Review: Violet

I have been trained as a surrogate for royalty.
I had no choice in the matter.
And now I'm finally being put to use.

I was sold at the surrogate auction.
Purchased by the Duchess of the Lake.
Bought simply as #197.

I am simply her property.
Just the surrogate of the House.
They even took away my name.

But I won't forget my own name.
I won't forget me.
I am not just someone's property.

My name is Violet Lastings.
Hello, my friends! Today, I am Violet Lastings from The Jewel!

Book: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City Series
Book Status: Book 1
Setting: The Lone City (dystopia)
Genre: YA dystopian, little bit of fantasy (there's "magic", but it's relatively insignificant)
POV: First person, told by Violet

Book Reading: first time
Favorite line: "Well, guess what--I'm human. I'm not perfect. I was trying to do the right thing, but you know what? I don't care anymore. I don't want to be right, I don't want to be good."
Rating: 4 stars

Whew, this book. It has a powerful story, for sure. There's a phrase, "the thing you're most afraid of. Write that." And I think this book is a perfect description of it. I don't mean it in the sense that it's badly written (it's very well-written!), but in the reading sense. This book deals with one of my absolute nightmares in life. 

"Then why did you read it, fool?" you ask. Well, the thing about books is that with them, if I ever do come face-to-face with a situation like this, I'll know (or have a better idea) how to deal with it. Through Violet, I lived through my fear, and as a result, learned strength from her. 

Let's list off a few of my biggest fears addressed in this book, and how Violet deals with them:

1. Surrogates. This word alone sends little warning sirens off in my brain. But being taken away from home to be raised and trained as a surrogate? Do you have any idea how scary that is? Do you even fully grasp the concept of what it means for people training you to be used merely for your body? To willingly submit? Just...the idea terrifies me to new extents. Kudos to Violet for dealing with it. I'd probably jump out of a window as a way out.

2. Auction. To be sold off to someone, as property. Hello, this is a slave market. Not just any auction, but a surrogate auction. Where people buy you simply for your body. The disturbing images and thoughts that must go through the buyer's god. I'd probably start screaming at the top of my lungs. Violet, however, takes the entire thing calmly, even if somewhat fazed.

3. Constant drugging. This is one of my worst fears. Violet is constantly being drugged unconscious simply for the sake of being transported places. Surrogates aren't allowed to know exactly where they are on a map (can't escape if you don't know where you are), so they keep on knocking them out. Violet doesn't get a say in whether she wants to be knocked out or not; it happens with or without her consent. In the book, they sometimes give Violet the option of the "easy way" or the "hard way", in which Violet usually goes for the "easy way" (letting herself be willingly (and grudgingly) knocked out). I don't know if I'd be able to do that. I'd be hyperventilating for sure.

4. Impregnation. This goes hand and hand with the whole "constant drugging" thing. It's Violet's job as a surrogate to bear a child, but it. Is. Creepy. This scares the living crap out of me, as I'm sure it does to a lot of people. I think you'd be crazy for it not to. Knowing that one day, you're going to be drugged and impregnated? No, no, no. That is my worst fear come to life. Again, how Violet deals with it is remarkable. I would die.

"Jeez, Erika. What the heck are you reading?" someone grumbles.

Well, what I'm trying to get to is that this book deals with a lot of fears of mine. The key word is deals with, in which the main character goes through all this and still comes out on top (sort of). She faces these issues, and she conquers them on a personal level. And to me, that's strength. She has the strength to go on, to keep being who she is, to find a loophole out of this twisted system of a world.

Why did I enjoy this book? Because it gave me a different outlook on how to handle these issues. If it was me, I'd probably do one of two things: either go along with the entire thing, submissive and obedient due to fear, or I'd just leap out of a building. I would not be brave enough to do what Violet does, to challenge her role. Which is why I liked reading about her.

Fun fact time!
a) This is a women's world. Literally. They don't even need males to keep the human race going. The Duchesses and Countesses and Ladies are the ones in power here, not the males.
b) I'd say this is a cross between The Hunger Games and The Selection. With a darker gender theme.
c) It's a sexist book in the way that females are both the strongest and the weakest of the human race. I mean, there are two types of females here: the surrogates, and the women who buy them. All that really differentiates them is their class. Males are kind of in between, being not as powerful but certainly not weak.
d) Magic. There is sort of magic here. I don't actually consider it fantasy, because it plays little to no role in the main plot. But it's there, and I'm interested to see how far (or if) its role will develop in the next books.

All in all, this is definitely a different book, but not in a bad way. It hits close to home for me, as it addresses a bunch of nightmares I have of the world. This world is such a terrible and exploiting place, and I know I absolutely would not want to live there. But at the same time, reading about it makes me a little less afraid of it, in which I'm grateful. It gives me hope. Well, as much hope as the first book can give me. The rest of the hope remains in books 2 and 3, which haven't come out yet...

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