Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Book about Teenage Surrogates

The Jewel, Amy Ewing
I am glad I read this book.  I am sorry for some choices that have been made in its execution, but this particular niche of SF is one of my pet interests, and so I felt I needed to read it.

Things that excited me about this book:
  • The treatment of fertility as an issue in the future;
  • The intermingling of sci fi and fantasy;
  • The consistent use of clean language;
  • The development of intrigue; and
  • The villains.  Unfortunately, moreso than the heroine...whom I didn't dislike, but I just wasn't as fascinated by her as I was her owner -- gimme a book on this "baddie," man, she is really interesting!  On this: the back cover suggests you are in for black and whites / straight-cut good versus evil, but I found there are a lot of greys, and I like grey.
I would have liked...
  • ...a different narrative device.  The first-person POV didn't work for me, and I felt it limited my engagement with the other characters.
  • ...to read more "snide comments hidden under the guise of politeness" (as promised, on page 351).  We are told this is going down, but having read 350 pages before this -- pages speckled with hollow dialogue lacking such undertones -- I felt robbed to not be a part of reading it.  One of the things that is downright delightful about royals, the court, and the upper class, is the zingers embedded in pleasantry!  I get breathless with thrill reading scenes where I believe the elite have little else to do all day but hone their wit and duplicity.  I didn't find this in The Jewel, and I missed it.  
  • ...to like the love story.  Brace yourself for the most insta of the insta-loves, peop's.
  • ...some fresher physical descriptions of people to match the strong location-building prose.
Other things I want to say:
  • Yes, it reminded me of The Selection and A Handmaid's Tale, but I think it is unfair to claim it is simply an inferior copy.  The Jewel is a different story, in its own right...although it may lack the sophistication I hoped for.  (The Selection is about many women competing for one man, fertility is not an issue.  A Handmaid's Tale may share the fertility concerns, but it isn't about implantation and surrogates, nor showcasing the pregnant women's beauty and talents and treating them as pets.)
  • Yes, the social system, rankings, and "prep phase" reminded me of The Hunger Games and a variety of other dystopias, but again, I think Ewing has endeavoured to create something of her own.
  • While the dialogue felt quite basic (and more suited to children's literature), make no mistake, there is definitely content here intended for young (or not-so-young, even better) adults; namely the medical procedures and sexuality -- there are stirrups and there is alluded-to and led-up-to sex.
If you adore Cassandra Clare and you enjoyed The Selection, this book may just cause you to implode.  If, however, you're only a fan of one of those (and even then, you were surprised to be), this may not be for you.
Thursday, September 18th Diva Book Nerd 
Friday, September 19th Inside My Worlds 
Saturday, September 20th Books for a Delicate Eternity 
Sunday, September 21st Thoughts by J 
Monday, September 22nd Kids Book Review 
Tuesday, September 23rd Striking Keys 
Wednesday, September 24th Genie in a Book 
Thursday, September 25th Fictional Thoughts 
Friday, September 26th Book Much
@amyewingbooks | amyewingbooks.com

Review copy supplied by Walker Books.
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