The Jewel by Amy Ewing #bookreview #Gem

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
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“The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this darkly riveting debut filled with twists and turns, where all that glitters may not be gold”

That strap line alone would entice me to read this book, and having read it now I agree with the comparisons to The Selection and The Handmaid’s Tale, I’d also say it has shades of Megan MecCafferty’s Bumped in there too.
Violet is a wonderful character and I loved seeing the Jewel through her eyes as she tries to adjust to this new world into which she is forced. Amy Ewing has created a world in which girls like Violet have no choice in their future, they will become surrogates for the Royalty and the way in which this is described is brilliant – it felt scarily believable. The main plot is interesting, and lots of sub-plots add further intrigue! The last few chapters really ramped up the pace and the cliff-hanger ending left me wanting to move straight onto book two! The only problem with reading proofs is that it’s always so long before the next book comes out! I will definitely be reading the next instalment and I have bought about 6/7 copies of this to give to friends, it’s fab!

 

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe written by Lauren James

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Release date: 7.9.2017
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Description:
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…

 

“I got so lucky. In what could have been the worst, most isolating time of my life, I’ve found the greatest friendship.”

As someone who loved The Martian (both the book and the film, but mainly the book) and loathed the Jennifer Lawrence led film Passengers, I did start this book with a little trepidation. Was Romy going to be a teen angsty version of Chris Pratt’s Jim?

No, no she was not. Instead she was a highly relatable person (not teen, not female. She is a character that spans ages and genders.) who is thrown into an isolated situation that she did not chose, had no training for and is doing the best she can,

Here’s were James truly gets me. There are two things that tend to disengage me as a reader; integrated fan fiction and emails to progress the plot. However, where other writers sometimes fail James uses both with precision and skill. Not only do I know I need to read them, I want to read them. The emails don’t feel like an invasion of privacy but an exploration of a blossoming friendship. It helps that Romy refers to them as part of her own inner dialogue.

I find the building relationship between Romy and J believable. The exploration of death, grief and guilt is impeccable and heart-breaking. You will want to lift Romy out from the pages and give her a hug; you’ll want to tell her she’s not alone.

There’s a sucker-punch, Alien-esque final act that puts Romy right up there with my favourite role model; Ripley. And while it takes a leaf out of some sci-fi tropes, it does not feel contrived. It also made me recall one of my favourite horrors; Urban Legend. In my head, I’m screaming “Natalie”! There’s a nostalgia to this novel that makes it strangely refreshing.

Despite the story being set in space, James addresses many problems we all face today. It’s the perfect landscape to explore the dangers of online dating, for example. In modern society people are finding it harder to meet a potential partner in an organic way. Our fear of being alone, leads us to this online forum that requires us to take a leap of faith.

Whether Lauren James intended to or not it feels like I’ve found one of the best modern allegories I’ve had the pleasure of devouring in a long time. When I return to school in September, this is the book I intend to recommend to each student in my classes with the hopes they do learn that sometimes there are sometimes worse things than being alone.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is available for pre-order and will be released 7th September 2017