I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
Before I read a book, I'll read just a few of the existing reviews - both the positive and the negative. I don't like to read too many because I don't want them to cloud my perception of the book before I read it. However, after I'm done I do like to go back and read more (again both positive and negative) to compare my thoughts and feelings.
I'll start by saying that I did really enjoy The Jewel. It kept me engaged and I wanted to keep reading. I don't like to read a series until all books are available, because I'm not all that patient sometimes. I went outside my box on this one because I wasn't sure if I would like it. I've read a few series over the last year - The Selection, Matched Series, Maze Runner, just to name a few - and I felt let down after completing the series. I'm one of those people who likes to finish things I start, so if I start a series I usually want to finish even if it's not the most enjoyable. And for several of those that I mentioned, they started off OK and became progressively worse with each book. By reading The Jewel now, I felt that if I didn't care for it then maybe I'd lose interest by time book 2 came out and I'd be able to have an incomplete series.
Well, I did enjoy it enough to want to keep reading and now I'm waiting for that next book. Darn it.
Overall, I loved the concept for the book. I struggled some with how the Lone City was structured - one point in particular is how the smog from the manufacturing circle appeared suddenly and disappeared as they passed in and out of that circle. I mean, I assume they are open circles (as opposed to a dome for each one) so I would expect it to gradually dissipate as they moved farther away. But it's fiction, so I chose to suspend logic and moved on. I did like the concept of the circle though.
I've seen some reviews that feel Violet was a weak character. I could see that, but I think it's important to remember that she is only 16! Yes, characters in other books (such as Katniss) are stronger at the same age, but Violet had just spent 4 years isolated and pampered. Yes she experienced pain and lost her freedom, but in the facility she wasn't beaten, she didn't have to fight for her life, she didn't have to deal with the basic normal growing pains of life. Translate that to an immature teenager, not one that has to go hunt her own food just to have a meal. Violet is going to make poor choices. She is going to change her mind. She is going to sound shallow at some points because she wasn't required to mature until she went to the auction. Being ripped from her family to begin with was traumatic and would give some the opportunity to mature at a faster rate, but not all characters are the same. I liked how she started making her own choices when she realized she could - even if it was inconsistent.
I've also seen the reviews that hate on the insta-love with Ash. Again, I get it. There's a lot of that in books these days. But I viewed it as more of an insta-attraction that grew into love. I don't feel it downplayed the plot, in fact I think it gave it plausibility. What did she have to fight for before? Why defy the rules and make your own choices if you don't have something to risk it all for? Love is what makes everyone come alive. It doesn't have to be the love of a person - could be love of life, of one's self, of a family member, etc. In this case, Violet had an opportunity to experience a new kind of love that she did not have before and she thought she'd never have again. I think it's the perfect reason to jump in and take the risk. As for the 'insta' part of it - again she is a teenager who didn't get a chance to meet boys her age before. He's cute and charming and he's the first person to talk to her like a person outside of her family and friends. Who wouldn't swoon at that? Especially with the hormones I'm certain she was experiencing due to the fact they were trying to make her pregnant. I can tell you for a fact - pregnancy hormones super-charge everything. Yes, I can buy into the insta-attraction and how she was able to fall in love with Ash. Same for him in return.
I liked that this book was dark and edgy. I liked the ending. I liked that I was right about who else was behind the plans.
What didn't I like? I agree with the other reviewers who commented on the over descriptions for the dresses and the character's looks. I get that The Jewel part of the city was into glamour and that's what was trying to be portrayed, but we were in Violet's head. The girl who wore a bathrobe to see her family for the first time in 4 years. It sounded like she was given opportunity to wear nice dresses in the holding facility, yet she didn't want to. So why was she so focused on it after the auction? I felt it would have been more consistent if she would have described the dresses with scorn rather than admiration. And not in sooo much detail.
I also really hated most of the names. I get that it's a trend with dystopian novels to have weird names, but I hate that too. And there were too many characters for my liking. I was getting lost with who was who and which house was on the good side and which was on the bad... I had to flip back and forth to remind myself more than I cared to do.
Now I just hope that book 2 goes up and not down...