This is one of the silliest, most asinine dystopias I have read in a long time. I pre ordered this. And started reading it the day I got the email from Amazon telling me it was available for download. It was I must admit, total cover lust. That cover is just utterly gorgeous.
However, I should have paid more attention to what the thing was about. This will be a ranty review with some mild plot spoilers.
In this dystopia we learn that rich royal women can no longer bear children. Girls who have reached womanhood are tested to discover if they have special abilities that make them eligible to be surrogates for the royals. The class system in this book is nothing new, similar to The Hunger Games, The Selection, Pawn to name a few. The crowning glory is to live in the Jewel where the perfect rich people live lives of luxury.
It started off fairly interesting, girls who have the special abilities, live in a dorm and are removed from their families until they're trained enough for auction. We meet our main character, Violet, who is the most unremarkable, boring main character ever. Who of course suffers from the dreaded speshul snowflake syndrome. Her powers are a cut above.
She's purchased at auction by a very powerful and influential woman, Duchess of the Lake (most of this information is actually in the blurb on the back of the book) The surrogates get to live in the Jewel. They're treated like pampered pets sometimes and slaves like others. They get no say whatsoever in whether or not they want to become surrogates, if you have these powers, you have no choice. Its the law. When they arrive to be auctioned off they're made super pretty by a stylist. Violet's stylist Lucian is basically a big rip off the Hunger Game's Cinna. And nowhere near as awesome. He has a role to play which makes him a little more interesting, but just basically a big Cinna rip off. Which was annoying.
There's very little explanation as to how the world came to be this way, we are not told any sort of history, what year it is or anything. What we are told for explanation comes in info dumps half way through and not much info at that.
Violet is one of the most bland, uninteresting main characters I've come across in a long time. Named simply because of her pretty violet eyes. She's of the I'm nowhere near as beautiful and special as everyone else types (but of course she's more speshul than anyone) musically gifted as well as being very powerful in her other magical abilities which makes her sort after. (This is the second YA book I've read recently where the MC plays the Cello brilliantly. Is the cello the 'in' musical instrument now in YA books?)
There are a few instances when you think Violet might redeem her blandness. Terrible things happen and she's actually (and rightly) royally pissed about it and for a while its like yes! she's got a backbone after all. Good for you! Until the Duchess of the Lake (her owner) finds out and says mean things to her and she backs down. And I am left hitting my head against a wall.
The most interesting thing about this book was the terribly amusing cattiness and backstabbing between the royals in the Jewel. They're all plotting and scheming against each other and its quite enjoyable to read. There's a little element of mystery added which made the plot more interesting and made me want to finish the whole thing to know where its going.
A few more times, Violet realises everything is not as is it seems with the help of her stylist, Lucian. Just when you think things are picking up...the romance starts. And its insta love of the worst sort. Sometimes insta love works. This is not one of those books, at least not for me. Violet is wandering around where she shouldn't b e (trying to be defiant) and she meets a handsome boy. Ash. They start a conversation....and from there they are completely blown away with each other.
It did not work for me. The latter half of the book was starting to get better, some more use of Violet's powers and we learn what the Duchess really wants her for. And again, Violet starts to show some promise when she finds this out and realises she doesn't want to go along with any of this crap.
And d if that theme had continued, then it would have been at least a two star book and I might have been interesting in finding out where the story is going in the next book. The minute Ash and Violet get together with their (of course) completely forbidden romance...just plain NO.
The end was a big cliff hanger, purely a set up for the next book. Which I now have no interest in whatsoever. Very disappointed to say the least.