The Jewel, The White Rose and The Black Key by Amy Ewing
Genre: Dystopian, Romance
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 362 | 310 | 304
Format: Paperback & e-book
Rating: ★★★★ | ★★★ | ★★★★
The Jewel is one of the books I’ve had on my shelves for ages and have been dying to read. In our Last Minute TBR video, I made a list of five books I couldn’t finish 2016 without reading, and this was at the top of that list. It’s been nearly a whole year since I read my last dystopian series, and I was reading to get sucked into a world for a few days and love every second of it. Luckily, The Jewel lived up to every expectation I had of it, and was one of the most lovely reading experiences I’ve had all year! I’m so pleased to have found another favourite series in The Lone City and it’s time to share the love!
T H E J E W E L
This was the perfect dystopian style book for me. I love The Selection by Keira Cass and Wither by Lauren DeStefano, and The Jewel fits perfectly into that category of girl-in-pretty-dresses-doing-badass-things.
The first thing I have to praise is the world building. While I thought the first few chapters of this book were a little too expositional, what dystopian series isn’t? The Lone City itself was well explained, easy to imagine, and the magic system was simple to grasp. I wasn’t expected magic to play a role in the series, just because that’s outside the box of what I’ve read before, but it was so cool. Auguries of Colour, Shape and Growth seemed well thought out for the world they were set in.
So, Violet, our main girl, is a surrogate, who at the beginning of the book is auctioned off to the highest bidder, wanted because of her beauty and mastery of all three auguries. Surrogates are forced to carry the children of the royal families, who can’t have children of their own because of a genetic defect. I loved the concept but the actual ‘how?’ behind it tripped me up. I didn’t know if it was like regular world IVF or completely magical, so I couldn’t wrap my head around the science of it, but that didn’t stop me being completely absorbed by Violet’s caged existence and desire to rebel.
The one things I was nervous about was insta-love, because some lovely girls on Goodreads commented on my status warning me that it was coming up. I’d got 180 pages in before an eligible boy even turned up, so I was pleased that half the book had transpired without romance, but oh my goodness, yes, the relationship between Ash and Violet does escalate from just meeting to ‘I can’t live without you’ pretty quickly. If Romeo and Juliet can get away with it after all these years, I’ll forgive it. It’s the kind of romance that I either love or hate and it’s just lucky that I loved it this time round!
There were some things in this book that were very Hunger Games-esque, like the character of Lucien is just another Cinna and Ash’s position in the palace is like Finnick’s position in the capital. If the reoccurrence of stock characters bothers you, this is something you should keep in mind.
The ending of The Jewel was insane, and set up the sequel to follow in the footsteps of Fever and Insurgent, not the most inspired of sequels, where the characters have to find refuge from their oppressors.
T H E W H I T E R O S E
Because of the escape-the-palace plot line, I struggled to remain interested in the first half of this book. All this time is spent with Violet, Raven and Ash running away from the palace and the Jewel citizens’ abuse, from the Bank to the Smoke to the Farm. Being hunted for that long can get repetitive, but I did love how the movement across the landscape gave way to more world building. (Violet did spend a lot of time asleep though…)
(Potential Spoilers!) In contrast, the second half really grabbed my attention. I loved learning more about the origins of the Lone City and we’re given an explanation not only why Violet is the Chosen One, but why she and the other surrogates have powers in the first place. It turns out they’re the descendants of the original colony on the island, who had magic, unlike the rich who come to colonise, who did. Violet and Sil, the wise mage like mentor, come to the realisation that the way to defeat the Jewel is to build an army of powerful surrogates, connecting their magic to the ancient power source rather than the Auguries. I loved the idea of more than one person being a leader of rebellion, and that Violet was just a small piece of the puzzle that led to action against injustice.
The one thing that was missing from this book was a development of the relationship between Ash and Violet. It was insta-love to begin with, so there wasn’t really anywhere for them to go, but I thought their passion for one another fizzled down too quickly! Ash couldn’t play much of a role in the story, because he didn’t have magical powers and I would have loved if, just once, a male character was happy to take the backseat, and accept that the female wants to keep them safe.
The cliffhanger at the end was painfully good, and an excellent response from the Jewel’s side of things, I gave a little gasp when I realised that Hazel had been taken. I dived into the next book straight away!
T H E B L A C K K E Y
So…I finished this all in one sitting. It was one of the best finales I’ve ever read, with a sense of continuing action and managing to tie every loose end.
The plots and motivations for the different characters all came to the surface and it made So. Much. Sense. Discovering the backstory for the Duchess and her sister was so great to read, you could instantly tell that a lot of thought had been put into how the series would end.
I also thought that all the deaths were really well handled. One of my main critiques of the dystopian genre is how killing off characters is often used as a device to artificially build emotion. It doesn’t work if you don’t feel anything for the characters, and I had a little connection to everyone that died, regardless of whether I’d only met them ten pages ago, or if they’d been there throughout the whole series. (I think the death that struck me the most was Annabelle, and Carnelian’s redemption was beyond heartbreaking.) Like The One, every death had an impact and had purpose to the arc of the story.
I really liked the way Violet’s character developed throughout the series. She became more confident in her actions and her role as leader of a war, she inspired others and her loyalty to family was so admirable. While the first book gave me the impression that romance would make a huge impact on the course of the books, I really liked that Violet didn’t change her course of action in reaction to Ash’s opinion. While romance was important to the story, it didn’t play as prominent a role as I was expecting and that was a good thing!
Overall, The Lone City series is one I’m going to be raving about from now on because if you love the dystopian genre, this deserves a spot amongst your favourites, for sure!