ARC Review - The Hearts We Sold

Title: The Hearts We Sold
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Little, Brown
Series: n/a
Published: August 8, 2017
Source: Borrowed for review from a local indie
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When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.
With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?


To be honest I wasn't 100% sure what I was going to get out of this novel because it claimed to be a "blend of sci-fi, paranormal horror, and romance" which is...a rather odd combination.  Though for better or for worse it's actually a pretty accurate description, and it works surprisingly well.  The plot, which is somewhat vague in the description, is also well done, but what really brings it all together is the writing itself and the characters.

First I feel like I do have to mention the plot because while the idea of demons isn't a new one by any means, the way they're portrayed in this book is refreshingly new; they came out as being demons on television and will trade wishes for body parts to anyone over a certain age.  I don't think I've ever read a book (especially one set in modern days) where demons are like, out and about to the general public.  (I mean, it may happen in urban fantasy novels, but not so much in YA).  What a cool idea.  And then there's the fact that this one demon trades hearts for wishes.  Like, he rips your heart right out of your chest and keeps it for two years while you keep living, get your wish, and then do things for him as he needs them.  I'd call that pretty original. And bonus points it's a standalone so everything is wrapped up in a nice neat bow.

Aside from the plot, which I loved, I think the best part of this book was the writing.  The plot along with the writing itself made the book compulsively readable.  I felt like I was just flying through the pages, not only because I wanted to see what would happen next, but because I couldn't help myself from seeking out the next paragraph.  While the book itself is some odd blend of genres I feel like it also feels like a new fairy tale of sorts.  I don't write in my books, I don't understand how people can, but I got the urge numerous times to underline or circle or highlight several passages that not only spoke to me but just seemed so effortlessly lyrical it's a shame I didn't have little sticky notes to mark them.

I mentioned the characters above as well and wanted to include a quick note about them.  They were really well rounded, real and broken in a way that made them relatable (except for Gremma, who was really just plain awesome).  I really appreciate the fact that while the story is Dee's we also get to see through the eyes of the other "heartless", at least when it came to their own deals with the demon.

There weren't really any major problems with this book.  Personally, I think it might have worked a little better if the sci-fi element of the story was left out and it remained entirely in the paranormal realm, but it's not really a huge part of the story anyway, so it's not that big a deal.  I have maybe one or two specifics questions I would like to ask the author about this or that, but that's also not anything big.  It also would have been cool to see more from other "heartless", and maybe even the demon himself, but seeing as the story is certainly whole without it wasn't necessary.  Like I said, I can't really find any major faults with the book, seeing as most of these things are really just about my own personal preference.

Overall I was really impressed.  This is the first book I've read by Lloyd-Jones and I know it certainly won't be the last.  With elements reminiscent of Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and even The X-Files, I feel like there's really something here for so many people.  I certainly think this will appeal to fans of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo (which is how it's advertised) but I would also go so far as to include Victoria Schwab and Laini Taylor.  The fresh plot, relatable characters, and lyrical writing really pull the whole book together though, and I don't think it's too crazy to say that this will easily be a favorite read of mine for this year.  I'm eagerly awaiting what Lloyd-Jones comes up with next, and I'll also be digging out her debut novel from wherever it might be hiding in my book stack because after this book I think it deserves a read as well.

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