Title: The Hearts We Sold
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: August 8th 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Library e-book
Goodreads Synopsis: Dee Moreno is out of options. Her home life sucks (to put it mildly), and she’s about to get booted from her boarding school–the only place she’s ever felt free–for lack of funds. But this is a world where demons exist, and the demons are there to make deals: one human body part in exchange for one wish come true.
The demon who Dee approaches doesn’t trade in the usual arms and legs, however. He’s only interested in her heart. And what comes after Dee makes her deal is a nightmare far bigger, and far more monstrous than anything she ever could have imagined. Reality is turned on its head, and Dee has only her fellow “heartless,” the charming but secretive James Lancer, to keep her grounded. As something like love grows between them amid an otherworldly ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give James her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?
This book came back onto my radar with the author’s upcoming novel The Bone Houses, so when I saw that some of my blogger friends loved this book, I figured it was time to try this book and see what I thought. The concept really interested me since I heard about it when it came out. It was featured in a previous Owlcrate box and that’s how I originally heard about it. It recently came out in paperback with the new stunning cover you see above. But did it match up to my expectations? Did I love it as much as my friends? Not quite sadly. Here’s the breakdown of my thoughts:
- Dee as a protagonist: I really did feel for Dee and her awful home life in this book. She wants to stay at the boarding school she’s attending, because it’s better than being at home with her two alcoholic parents and her verbally abusive father. She’s never felt like she’s belonged anywhere, but feels safe at the school and wants it to stay that way. She ends up giving her heart in deal with a demon to get the money she needs to stay at school. The contemporary part of this book with Dee finding a group of friends and finding out where she belongs was really emotional and my favorite part of the book. I loved seeing her grow stronger and face the fear she’s always had about telling her parents how she really feels. The intense parts with her family had me flipping the pages really quickly and the real power of the book were in those scenes. I also liked her relationships with her roommate Gremma and also James the love interest. I liked seeing how she tries her best to bond with people and how she’s accepted and that really helps her open up.
- James: I really loved James as a side character and the love interest to Dee. The way he got involved with the demon and his story arc was honestly unexpected but in the best way. He’s a really nice guy and his humor and clothing choices really gave him some life to his character and made me laugh a couple times. I loved how he was honest with Dee, gave her space when needed but also helped her be strong. It was the smallest gestures, like holding her hand or letting her having some space really helped Dee be understood and the way they understood each other really shows the bond we can have as people. The author really surprised me with where his story went, but it’s completely satisfying.
- Concept of dealing with demons: The idea of this book where demons have revealed themselves and how humans can make deals with them is a fascinating concept. It draws a parallel with real life, to how desperate people make deals to have the simplest things like walking again, or being pretty or getting all the popularity. It’s a way to showing us as humans with our greed and how we’ll jump at the closest chance to get what we want while ignoring the consequences. The demons themselves were interesting and mysterious, only saying what was necessary and the way they mostly looked human was an interesting choice.
- Writing Style: I can tell that Emily Lloyd-Jones is an author that I will continue to read from due to her great ability to craft characters and simple phrases to really capture a moment in the story. Her writing is so polished and at times so raw and honest and also funny when needed. She brought each character to life and let them unfold on their own during the story. Some of my favorite passages are:
“Demons weren’t supposed to be dangerous, or only as dangerous as your average used car salesman.” – from the 2% mark
“She became her own knight; she collected those broken promises and whispered apologies and fashioned them into armor. By the time she was ten, Dee had put away her fairy-tale books and decided she only believed in real things. Then the demons declared themselves not two months later.” – from the 3% mark
“Actions fueled by desperation. They were the worst kinds of decisions, because desperate people could see the error of their ways and simply not care. They would rush headlong into a bad situation because they could see no other options.” -from the 13% mark
““We’re all just moments and most of us don’t matter. We study less than one percent of all humanity in our history books.” “And you’re going to be part of that one percent?” asked Dee. “I just want to matter,” he said, unsmiling. It was like pulling a curtain back, peering behind a mask made of smiles and quips. This was the real James, this young, bright, desperate thing. There was a burning intensity to his eyes, and she saw for the first time a boy who would sell his heart—not for some hobby, but because he thought it was the only way to live the life he wanted. They had that in common.” – from the 42% mark
- Surface level on the demons: While I did really enjoy the concept of demons making deals with humans, I feel like the book didn’t go quite deep enough to learn more about the demons. Some mystery for them is fine, but I feel like there could’ve been a bit more variety on the different kinds of demons or even more on the consequences of the deals with them. The deals seemed so easy, but it didn’t seem that the price the humans paid was enough if that makes sense. The explanation for their presence seemed a bit too simple for me.
- Overarching plot thread: I knew the basic premise of this book before going into it, but the way the overarching plot line unfolded was a bit hard to get behind at first. The group of “heartless” that Dee becomes apart of and what they do for the demon was a bit unexpected for me. Their missions seemed way too easy without much conflict whatsoever. The missions also seemed to short and easy, especially with the end. I wish the book would’ve either been longer, or the middle sped up a bit to let the ending be more well rounded and satisfying.
- Slow and repetitive middle: The middle chunk of this book was a little bit of a struggle for me to get past. I did put the book down for a day or so because not much was happening. It was starting to get repetitive with day to day normal life, repeating the same thoughts and actions from the characters. The slow middle made the ending and the end of the conflict too rushed for me, making the pacing a bit imbalanced.
Overall: This is a really solid book that does deserve more love. This author is so talented with her writing and she did surprise me with a few moments in the best way. I’m so glad that I read this and even though parts were underwhelming, this is a back-list book to not miss. I can’t wait to read more from this author and I hope you guys also love it as well. I did want to love it more, but it was overall a refreshing read with a sweet romance and a great protagonist who really comes into her own.
Rating: .75 stars
Have you read this book? If so, what are your thoughts? Have you read the author’s other books and did you like them as well? Let me know in the comments!