I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: The Lone City #1
Published by HarperTeen on September 2nd, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
This book had so much going for it. I loved the ideas set forth, that these surrogates, with their mental abilities to change and shape living things, could fix what was essentially an inbreeding issue. I loved that Violet, the main character, actually worried consistently about her bodily autonomy and that of her fellow surrogates. I loved the terrible world they lived in where royalty would treat the young women who would bear their children as cattle or a very expensive pet. It was horrible and refreshing in its lack of boundaries.
But then the love interest showed up. It was pretty much instant love and it was infuriating. Granted, it touched on several subjects within the romance that were intriguing, such as the fact that neither Ash nor Violet felt free or real until near the other and the actual consideration of consequences both of a legal and biological nature. But I still couldn’t get behind it. It seemed out of place and forced. Violet’s friendship with Raven was more true to heart and seemed more genuine than the ‘explosive’ relationship.
Anyway, that aside. This book is pretty good. The world building is fantastic. Violet is well rounded character who doesn’t take any of the injustices handed to her in stride. She has perfectly reasonable reactions to things like being surprised drugged and impregnated while knocked out, spontaneously hemorrhaging, having a magic amplifier placed in her spine, and finding out her best friend is being lobotomized. I enjoyed all of that and the book holds nothing back. The inner sanctum of the Jewel and the isolated Lone City are awful places, and the horrors of the day to day life of those who live there are covered up with fancy dresses and pretty makeup.
The ending was a bit abrupt, but I had braced for a cliffhanger when I saw I was a few pages out and nothing was winding down. Still, the reveal at the end of a potential ally only added to my annoyance rather than excited me for the next book. Yes, I want to know what the hell happens to Violet Lasting and the rest of the surrogates. I’ve been made to give a damn despite the few grievances.