The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)

DNF at 95%, because I just don't give a fuck.
My frail resolve wavers. I think about what sort of person I want to be. I owe Lucien my life, and I will be loyal to him until the end. But Ash has nothing to do with that. Ash is separate, a part of my life that is just mine. There are things that are bigger than us, it’s true. Saving the surrogates. Destroying the royalty. Is loving Ash worth the risk?
You get one fucking guess. What do you think she chooses?

This book is called The Jewel. It is a

DNF at 95%, because I just don't give a fuck.
My frail resolve wavers. I think about what sort of person I want to be. I owe Lucien my life, and I will be loyal to him until the end. But Ash has nothing to do with that. Ash is separate, a part of my life that is just mine. There are things that are bigger than us, it’s true. Saving the surrogates. Destroying the royalty. Is loving Ash worth the risk?
You get one fucking guess. What do you think she chooses?

This book is called The Jewel. It is a misnomer, because had the title been accurate to the contents of the book, it would have been called The Big, Stinking Pile of Shit.

This book is similar to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale if it had been written for people who loved pretty dresses, Mary Sues, and hates being offended. In short, it's for people who watch Fox News.

The Handmaid's Tale is a true dystopia in which the ruling class keeps a group of women around, solely for reproductive purposes. The main character in that book is a breeding cow. There is where the similarity ends. This book had none of the complexity, an interesting setting that quickly descends into absurdity and a character who is bred for perfection...a pretty breeding cow, chosen for her genetic superiority. The difference is that every ounce of flavor, every bit of grittiness, every iota of realism, every implication of the dark side of surrogacy and sexual abuse has been bleached the fuck out of this so-called dystopia.

What's left is a flavorless, bland, utterly insipid "dystopian" version of every Mary Sue-insta-love you can ever imagine.

The Summary:

My skin is ivory, an odd contrast with my hair color, and my eyes are violet. I don’t need a mirror to tell me that. They’re what I was named for.
Our heroine is the fantastically-named Violet Lasting, who I will henceforce address as the html color code of #800080, the code for purple. Why? Because I can't type Violet Lasting without gagging, that's why.

In this Dystopian world, we have regions known as The Farm, The Smoke, The Bank. Each region has a ruler, a countess, a duchess...Due to some kind of genetic mutation, the upper class are no longer able to bear children. It would be an unusual world except for the stupid fucking fact that almost everyone is named after a theme. For example, all the people in one region are named after colors. Here are a sample of the names: Ochre, Hazel, Sable, Violet, Raven, Cobalt, Crow, Ginger. THERE ARE ONLY SO MANY COLORS, PEOPLE. YOU'RE GOING TO RUN OUT OF THEM EVENTUALLY.

Which is why I've decided to name our Violet #800080.

So no normal pregnancies for the rich here. Instead, they get genetically blessed girl like #800080 to have babies for them. But rather than being forced to go through, like, sexual abuse and stuff like that, these girls are more or less pets for the family that buys them. They are slaves, exquisitely dressed slaves, extraordinaryly pampered...sometimes abused---slaves. Not to mention breeding mares, who never have to have sex. EVER! Whoo! Totally PG, y'all. And the painful, excruciating, lengthy process of in-vitro fertilization? Turned into an artificial gloss of pain, without any authentic feeling of violation or despair.

In any case, #800080 is beautiful. Extraordinarily talented. Exceptionally lovely. In an auction of 200 girls, the highest ranked is the most beautiful, the most prized. #800080 is ranked...

I exhale. “197.”
Raven grins. “Looks like we’re hot commodities.”
#800080 is bought by one of the wealthiest rulers, an extraordinary woman, The Duchess, for an unheard-of price.
“Sold!” the auctioneer cries, and all my muscles turn to jelly. “Sold for six million diamantes. To the Duchess of the Lake.”
And #800080 is so fucking perfect, so brilliant, so smart. So excellent at the magical art of Augury (wut lol), that for the Duchess, she is a prize beyond compare.
“Yes,” the Duchess murmurs, almost to herself. “I think you are exactly what I’ve been looking for."

“Yes . . .” The Duchess runs a manicured finger down her cheek. “I’ve been waiting for

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you,” she says, her dark eyes fixed on mine. “For nineteen years.

#80080 has the most dreadful existence in the world. #800080 can't believe the injustice of it all. Her body is not her own. She is a slave, a possession, there to be used, abused, and thrown away.

Horrifying. But then...Cora gets the chance to do something about it. There is a secret rebellion that could free the entire fate of her fellow caged brood mares. She can free herself.

“She must believe you are on her side. You have to make her trust you. It is our best chance of getting you out as quickly and safely as possible.”
So naturally, with this grand plot in mind, #800080 must focus all her energy on looking at her lovely reflection.
The stranger in the mirror has been transformed.
I blink rapidly, trying to reconcile her with the image I had of myself in my head. The image of a pretty girl, slightly plump, full face, big eyes. The woman I am looking at now is beautiful. Stunning. Her cheeks seem thinner, molded to accent her high cheekbones, and her eyebrows arch delicately over luminous eyes, lined in rich purple with accents of lilac and gold. Her lips are glossed in pale pink, and her hair tumbles over her shoulders in thick curls, one side pinned up with a jeweled clip, encrusted with amethysts that form the shape of a butterfly. There is a shimmer to her skin, almost like she’s glowing.
Exploring her enormous wardrobe. Wearing glamorous new nightgowns
I’m wearing a white silk nightdress, not unlike the one I wore at Southgate, embroidered with green and gold thread. The lady-in-waiting holds up a jade dressing gown, and I slip into it. Now I match this room.
Wearing lovely dresses.
At five to seven, I stand outside the doors to the ballroom dressed in a pale green gown that makes the footman’s eyes pop before he can stop himself. The bodice leaves my shoulders bare, and the skirt falls to the floor in layers like the petals of a flower, their edges woven with glittering crystals. A choker of diamonds wraps around my neck and diamond earrings hang from my ears.
And making judgmental calls on other people wearing beautiful dresses.
“My goodness, isn’t she just a vision,” the Electress gushes. She wears a gown of rich crimson velvet with a large dragon embroidered on its skirts—it seems like too much material for her small frame—and her lips are painted bright red. Like at the Auction, I am strongly reminded of a child playing dress-up.
#800080 is powerful, her magic in Augury is strong. She can change the world. Or she can explore the palatial mansion in which she is imprisoned.I want to explore a little more of this palace on my own, decide for myself where to go and what to see. Several maids are cleaning the windows that look out onto the garden, and I flit past the doors, pausing in between them to make sure I’m not seen.With so much power, so much strength, that is being built up and trained every day, #80080 can do extraordinary things.
Standing in the doorway is a boy. Not a boy, a young man—he looks to be about the same age as the Duchess’s son. Tall and slender, with tousled brown hair and a strong jaw. His mouth curves a bit at the corners, like he’s holding back a smile. One hand rests in the pocket of his pants and his shirt is open at the collar.
But it’s his eyes that have me pinned in place. They are a soft gray-green, and they look at me in a way I haven’t been looked at since I started my life in the Jewel—like I am a girl, a person, not a surrogate. And yet, it’s something more than that; they look at me in a way that makes me feel hollow and strangely buzzy.
Things like...fall into insta-love. Beautiful Boy Ash is a slave himself. He is a companion, a sexual boy toy to wealthy, older woman (who are, naturally, disgusting and nasty and so unlike the pure, beautiful, and virgin-Mary-like #800080). Together, they are not strong. Together, they are a danger. This is forbidden love, if there ever was one. He could be severely punished if they were caught. She could be killed at the Duchess' whim. And forget about her grand rescue mission.

So what does Romeo and #800080 do?

“Violet,” he says, and when he looks in my eyes, my stomach somersaults. “I think . . . I think I love you.”I feel myself dissolve into a thousand molecules, amazed at how three small words can completely alter my state of being.

“I think I love you, too,” I whisper.

...more


Category: Review

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