My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is how the Jewel operates. Status is our sole occupation. Gossip is our currency. — The Duchess of the Lake
Honestly, The Jewel caught my attention because its cover reminded me of The Selection, which is one of my favorite series of all time (laughs wickedly). However, my superficial and biased attraction soon became a genuine interest after reading the first chapter.
I’ve always been invested in dystopian and gender-related discourse, so I was inevitably intrigued by the premise of this book. Violet Lasting, a working-class girl, was trained to be a surrogate for the upper class. In the Jewel, the center of wealth and power, she was then constrained to a life of sweetened pain, temporal wealth, and forbidden love.
The structure of Violet’s problematic society was not new to me. It was basically just The Hunger Games all over again. In this case, the Capitol and its outlying Districts were the Jewel and its similarly outlying Circles. Furthermore, if the elites in The Hunger Games toyed with the Tributes for entertainment’s sake, the elites in The Jewel purchased the surrogates for procreation. With that in mind, I was quite jaded while reading about Violet’s dystopian world.
If I were to isolate Violet from her unique and fantastical powers as a surrogate, I would not like her as a character. I read this book eight months ago, and all I can remember about her is that she was often helpless, impulsive, and…horny. She was indeed headstrong and family-oriented, but I believe that I would not want to be friends with her in real life. Her flaws made me expect the worst of the other protagonists.
Fortunately, I experienced a paradigm shift when Ash Lockwood entered the scene. I was darkly pleased to finally witness my sex/gender being objectified in YA. Since time immemorial, males have been the proprietors of objectification, never the victims of the latter. Thus, it was very refreshing to get to know Ash and his emasculating history. Don’t get me wrong. I did not actually like how he was being treated; I was just happy to feel a sense of gender equality. In light of their mutual form of suffering, Violet and Ash were practically perfect for each other.
As quick and engrossing as it was, Violet and Ash’s relationship was not the highlight of the plot. The Jewel, like most dystopian novels, advocated the value of democracy. The unbridled romance was merely one of the characters’ incentives for demolishing the Jewel and its ironically dependent citizens.
Overall, The Jewel was significantly predictable, but I somehow managed to like it because of its refreshing approach to gender equality. Also, if you’re into literature which dethrones the upper class, you’ll probably devour this book like candy.