The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Author’s Website | Goodreads
Publisher: Hachette – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
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? [ x ]
I meant to have this review done last week because I meant to finish THE HEARTS WE SOLD last week, but life had gotten in the way and isn’t that always the case? Anyhow, this review will not be new from anything you have heard about Emily Lloyd-Jones’s wonderfully written THE HEARTS WE SOLD. I had the opportunity to get myself a copy during Book Expo and I was holding off on reading it because I’m trying out this new thing where I read books closer to their release dates. I will tell you this again and again about this book – it is so well-written and I just need to take a moment to tell you how greatly written it is.
It’s a story of Deidre (Dee) Moreno, a young girl who doesn’t have the most lovely of lives. In her world, demons walk among people, exchanging desperate desires for body parts. The higher the stakes are, the more valuable the hearts become and for Dee, a life situation becomes so dire that she must exchange her heart in order to save herself. In addition to giving up her heart, she becomes part of a group of heart-sellers that are called to action whenever the demon needs them to do a certain something. While canoodling with the group, Dee begins to fall for one of them and wonders how she can give away a heart that is no longer hers to give.
First of all, these characters – oh my gosh, they’re my babies. I am in love with them and just want to hug them all so tightly because this is certainly a story of teenagers who are broken pieces trying to keep more pieces from falling away. Dee is a beautifully constructed wreck of a character. She starts from such a low point of uncertainty in the beginning, but begins to find herself. I don’t think the growth that she develops is so much to call it transforming, but I do think it’s refreshing that it’s really subtle until a particular confrontation between her and her family. It’s slow-growing and it makes her really blossom into such a relatable and likable character. I felt so much for her and I loved that she just seemed so ordinary, but had a special quality about her that I just can’t put my finger on. She was just such a damn well-written character. Can’t it just be left at that? Heh.
And how could I not love James? The beautifully artistic, hobo-looking, Ikea-couch-sitting, but handsome James. I had mixed feelings about him when he showed up – it was obvious that he was going to play the love interest to Dee, but romance was certainly not at the forefront of this book (to which I was rather satisfied with), but I really grew to be protective of him because of his natural likability and his desire to be nurturing towards other characters. He was just so flippin selfless and I wanted the best for him, especially after what I learned about him towards the ending of THWS. I thought I knew what I wanted in a fictional boyfriend, but James has changed all of those expectations. I think that his role in the dynamics of the group was necessary to keep it going – I believe it would have completely fallen apart had he not been there the whole time and been the glue holding them together. Nevertheless, he broke my heart for all the best and angsty of reasons.
The other characters were great as well. I appreciated that everyone had distinct personalities and regardless, meshed in with the group. I certainly found all of them memorable. No one was left in a place where I felt they were being overshadowed. Cal, Cora, Gremma, and Riley. They all had their own things to be concerned with and despite them, they all just came together in such a cool way (dare I even say nonchalant way?). I would have to say that if there was anyone that rubbed me the wrong way, it was Cora. She was reckless and unpredictable in her motives, even though I understood they were coming from a desperate place.
I absolutely commend Lloyd-Jones for how she approached the relationships in THWS. Romance was not an enormous component of the story despite it being so enforced in the synopsis. But it is a bigger story than just the romance. However, it was so tastefully done and it left me wanting that sort of slow-burning, slow-growing relationship where there is still hesitation and a lack of confidence in both the characters that blossoms into something more confident and passionate. It really blew me away. And I flippin’ loved the LGBTQ+ representation. If there is something to be said about THWS, it’s that there was amazing diversity and representation. Don’t believe me? READ IT.
THWS had a lot happening in it. And yet, I felt like it was enough and necessary to what Lloyd-Jones wanted to tell in her book. I loved the paranormal aspect of the story and how it does not fit into the cookie-cutter idea that I’ve had for so long about demons. There’s a kind of creepiness and yet normality about selling body parts for desperate wishes – and then there’s an eerie feeling that I got when reading about all these supernatural creatures that just gave me the willies, but I wanted more. I wanted so much to read about the mythology behind what Lloyd-Jones created. She made this world within reality that I want more exploration in. It’s impossible to sate my curiosity with just this one book – I NEED MORE!
Beyond the paranormal elements of the book were the issues that touched on such a human level. There is definitely issues of mental/physical health as well as abuse that I found to be the surprising part of the story. I don’t think abuse gets touched upon as much as it should, especially in YA literature and I’m not just talking about physical abuse – but mental and emotional abuse. It hit me in all the right raw places and made me feel for this character in a way that made me love him/her even more. I love that it shows the character going through the patterns of abuse until there is resolution. But the resolution is open-ended and I like that in the end I’m not sure what will come.
I absolutely hated one thing about THWS: it’s a standalone. I don’t think it’s enough to keep me satisfied, but I think it’s enough to keep this a book to be talked about. There is so so much that goes on in the background and forefront of THWS that I think would be missed if not for a careful read. While I don’t think one book is enough for ME, I know that it’s enough for the story. If you are looking for complete resolution in this story, you will not receive it. You will be left agonizing what is to BE and what is to COME. And I hate that we may never receive this answer.
Regardless, a phenomenal read. One of the best of the year.