by Amy Ewing
published on September 17th, 2015 by Harper Teen
young adult | dystopian | fantasy
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Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.
But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.
But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?
The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.
I was hugely crazy about The Jewel, despite it’s extreme resemblance to a YA Handmaid’s Tale (or perhaps because of that resemblance), so I perhaps had excessively high hopes for its sequel. I didn’t dislike White Rose, but I also didn’t find it as tightly plotted and well-paced as its predecessor. That said, I was happy to return to Violet’s world and very excited by the greater presence of a few key characters. And let’s not lie–I’m still gonna read the third one.
I LOVED the new faces and changing relationships. Violet and Ash are back in action after the climactic end of book 1, and we get to see their relationship develop and grow into something built on trust and understanding, beyond the initial infatuation. And now that Violet’s social affairs aren’t so limited, old characters are reanimated. Garnet (my dear, snarky antihero) and Raven (Violet’s friend, misty and fragile but secretly powerful) become central figures. Lucien’s true character is revealed, and an old face from the auction returns as a fiery new ally. The relative absence of the delightfully sinister Duchess was sorely missed, but I enjoyed getting to know the other secondary characters in her stead.
I ENJOYED the world building and backstory. With Violet semi-free and the resistance gathering, Ewing reveals much more about the Jewel, Auction, and Surrogates than we previously knew. The mystery of the auguries is revealed in fascinating form. I won’t give away too much, but the explanation makes sense of this magical element (and the strange solitude of the Jewel) while also introducing a wild new plot dimension. While it takes the series in a more fantastical direction than I was expecting, I’m cautiously pleased with Ewing’s departure from her dystopian source material.
I LIKED the heightened stakes and unexpected twists. This is about more than just surviving the machinations of the Duchess of the Lake. Now, Violet holds many other fates in her hands, by virtue of a power she didn’t even realize was important. The resistance is solidifying, the Duchess is plotting behind the scenes, and the true evil of the surrogacy program is revealed–in such a way that makes the whole business even more frightful and pressures Violet and her friends to do more than escape, but to stop the system itself.
I was a little UNDERWHELMED by the pacing. Given all that I’ve described above, not a lot actually happened in this book. Whereas there always seemed to be a scheme afoot in The Jewel, The White Rose seemed a bit too drawn out with the exposition and the training. So much more could have been packed around the escape, the revelation, and the workings of the resistance. I think the relative distance of the Duchess added to the drag, because even though her powers were felt subtly, she was far enough away as to seem less threatening. It’s very much an in-between book.
I’m a font of useless knowledge and an endless source of sarcasm. Oh, and I guess I read, too.