Today her name is Violet Lasting. She has a family and friends. She can choose what to eat and what to wear.

Tomorrow, she will become Lot 197 and everything about her life will be determined by another woman – what she eats, who she talks to and where she lives. Her life will be lived at the mercy of her owner, the Duchess, and her worth will be determined by her ability to act as a surrogate to ensure that the Duchess can continue her family line.

Violet’s future seems certain, and bleak, until she meets Ash, another captive. The time Violet steals with Ash makes her wonder if a different future is possible; one where she makes her own decisions and chooses her own destiny.

Welcome to the world of Violet Lasting, where women in the elite circle of society buy surrogates to ensure that they can retain their social status and where a poor young woman’s genetics, health and ability to perform the three Auguries – colour, shape and growth – determine her worth.

The Jewel is the first book in an intriguing new dystopian trilogy. The story focuses primarily on the female members of society – the rich women of the Jewel, their servants and the young women they purchase as surrogates to overcome their issues with infertility. This brought to mind Margaret Atwood’s classic The Handmaid’s Tale, although The Jewel has a different social structure and there is a very different tone overall.

There is a romantic element to the story, with Violet and Ash’s attraction forbidden because of their roles as surrogate and royal escort. Their situation seems hopeless, but they discover support in an unlikely place and there is a glimmer of hope that they could escape the future determined by society.

While there is a definite societal structure and interesting fantasy world element thanks to the Augury powers of the surrogates, The Jewel is primarily a character-driven story focused on the connections and power struggles between the various female characters. These struggles take place not only between the wealthy women and their surrogates, but also between the women within each of the social hierarchies. It is a story about identity, control and the right to self-determination and it is interesting to read a dystopian story driven so dominantly by female characters.

While the romance between Violet and Ash is a little predictable, The Jewel offers readers an interesting setting and some intriguing character dynamics. It also raises some interesting thoughts about identity, social status and a woman’s right to choose what happens with her own body.

The Jewel ends on a cliff-hanger that will ensure readers will be eagerly awaiting the second instalment of the story.

This review is part of The Jewel blog tour. See below for links to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Title: The Jewel (Jewel Trilogy #1)
Author: Amy Ewing 
Publisher: Walker Books, $17.95 RRP
Publication Date: 4 September 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406347494
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult
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