*sigh* This book was unsurprisingly disappointing. It’s another YA dystopian that recycles the same The Selection/Chemical Garden/Delirium-type plot where girls are basically being forced into something to do with marriage and/or childbirth. This book wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t much different from other books in this genre already out there. To me, The Jewel reminded me a lot specifically of The Selection series in that it has little-to-no world building and focuses entirely too much on romance, but is actually quite entertaining to read.
Right from the first page, I was really engrossed in the story. I have to admit that something about the whole surrogacy slavery thing is intriguing and made me want to read more. I was horrified by everything that was happening to Violet while at the same thing being totally fascinated by it all. Even though the plot was a little familiar, I was still hooked on the story and was wildly flipping the pages to find out how it was all going to end.
I thought that Violet’s character was fine. She wasn’t a great main character, but she wasn’t too objectionable. She was just kind of blah. I wish that she’d been developed a little bit more…she seemed to have no other traits besides “misses her family” and “worries about her friend Raven.” Maybe if we’d had more time to get to know her before the Auction, I would’ve felt more of a connection to her. Although I did particularly enjoy the scenes in which she played the cello.
I was also really sucked in by the aristocratic politics involved and the characters of the Duchesses (particularly Violet’s Duchess). I love stories involving convoluted friendships and people trying to backstab their way to the top. Everyone’s motivations were so intriguing and I loved that Violet’s Duchess in particular was such a great not-black-and-white character. I’d definitely be interested in reading more about her and the other Duchesses in the rest of the series!
What I didn’t like was how this book so quickly turned into all about the romance. For the first half of the book, I actually was really liking it (lack of world building aside — I mean, seriously, what is up with the Augerys and why can’t the aristocrats have their own babies but poor people can?), but then the second half turned into this whole awful insta-love thing that was just so boring and dumb. They knew each for like two seconds before they were suddenly “in love.” Haven’t authors realized yet that we don’t like this?! I had absolutely zero emotional response to the romance, so it was really annoying when, suddenly, most of the interesting plot was gone and instead Violet was non-stop gushing about how amazing and wonderful her new boyfriend is.
And then…this book had a GIANT CLIFFHANGER! Which was so aggravating. The only reason I read this book before the entire series was done being published is because it was given to me as an ARC, but the ending excruciatingly reminded me of why I started that whole “don’t read a series until it’s over” in the first place! I guess there’s nothing technically wrong with a cliffhanger…they’re just personally not something that I usually enjoy.
So, ultimately, this book was really not that great, which is why I feel like it’s necessary to give it such a low rating. But if I’d been going by entertainment value alone, I would’ve rated it 4 stars! I think that fans of The Selection series will definitely love it. It’s not super similar to it with the plot or characters, it just has the same type of feel, setting, and writing style. So even though I enjoyed my experience reading it, it had a lot of flaws that were hard to ignore.