Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-JonesThe Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Published by Little Brown BFYR on August 8, 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Horror
Pages: 381
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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four-half-stars

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?

In case you missed it, Lloyd-Jones’ debut series Illusive is awesome X-Men-inspired fun. I will forever want that third book where my m/m ship sails into the sunset (it’s canon, I swear). The Hearts We Sold admittedly didn’t sound like too much of a Christina book. I wanted it because of how much I like Emily and how much I enjoyed Illusive. Reading author friend books is fraught with peril, especially when you venture out of your comfort zones, but, you guys, The Hearts We Sold is really excellent.

Allow me to set our humble scene. When I started The Hearts We Sold, I’d barely been reading for about a fortnight, which given that I’d read 330 books already at that point in the year says a lot about my headspace. I’d been stressed pre-vacation and then on vacation, it’s hard to find the time/energy to read, at least for me (unless it’s a beachy resort vacation). Even though I wasn’t in the mood for reading and really only wanted fluff, I devoured The Hearts We Sold. I read most of it in one day, which makes it the only book I was able to maintain focus on for the whole trip. Which basically goes to say that this shit is compelling af.

Another factor that tells me how good this book is: I’m not really into Faustian stories. For the most part, I’m really not interested in the whole “selling your soul” fantasy subgenre. For one thing, it’s often rooted in religion. For another, they have a pretty typical plot structure and emotional arc: want a thing but see no way to get it, meet demon/devil/whatever, sell soul, get thing, realize that you should have been more careful what you wished for, either escape or not. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that sort of story, it just doesn’t do a lot for me personally because of my set of interests.

However, I love what Lloyd-Jones did in The Hearts We Sold. She manages to take that basic framework and make it feel completely fresh and unique. In this fantastic version of the United States, “demons” exist. They can, in exchange for some body part of their choice, grant a person’s wish. This is a widespread phenomenon, and it’s common to see people missing limbs. Usually, there’s an element of special chosen-ness to these sorts of narratives, but here it can happen to anyone. The demons appear to anyone who strongly wants to make a wish. The world building and plotting are just so cool and unique, but I really don’t want to go into it because I really enjoyed watching everything unfold. A+.

Since I’m me, I wouldn’t give too many shits about the phenomenal world building unless I cared about the cast of characters. At first, admittedly, this was the weak point for me with The Hearts We Sold. Dee Moreno’s closed off and cold, even before she trades her heart to a demon in exchange for money so she can finish school. In a beautiful irony, Dee finds her heart through being heartless. As Dee slowly comes to trust her little group of heartless teens, who have to work for their demon for two years, the reader too is slowly drawn in until suddenly you’re an invested mess of feels.

Dee’s parents are both alcoholics, and she’s doing everything she can to escape them. Lloyd-Jones does an amazing job with this portrayal, and I did appreciate that View Spoiler » It’s an unflinching novel with harsh lows, but also with adorable highs. Though the overall tone is dark, Lloyd-Jones hits a variety of emotional beats that keep the book from being overwhelmingly depressing.

Dee’s semi-terrifying but awesome roommate Gremma (do not make fun of her stupid name or she will kill you—I know I’m the enemy of weird names in YA, but I don’t mind them when the weirdness is acknowledge by the text, which happens here) is one of my favorites. She’s a lesbian, and she gets a ship! Hurrah! The ship mostly happens off screen, so I didn’t ship it as much as I did Dee and Jamie, who are adorable and weird and I love them. The ending (and tbh some of the middle) totally decimated my feelings because I care about this crew so much: View Spoiler »

The Hearts We Sold is one of those delightful books that comes out of nowhere and just whomps you unexpectedly. I know anyone with OwlCrate got this last month, and you should absolutely get to it when you can!

Favorite Quote:

This was how normal people survived their own fairy tales. They became their own kind of monster.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

2 responses to “Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones”

  1. Leah says:

    I’m sorry, I’m obsessed with the “I’d read 330 books already” statement. That. Is. Incredible!

    I have a copy of The Hearts We Sold and I’m hoping to get to it soon!
    Leah recently posted…{Waiting for Wednesday} From Twinkle, with Love & Defy the WorldsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Haha, I’m in a competition of sorts with a friend, and I’m losing, believe it or not. :-p

      I hope you enjoy it too!

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