Fantasy (Teen), Romance (Teen), YA Fiction

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

By far, this was one of the most interesting premises for a teen fiction novel that I have seen this month. It reminded me a lot of the tv show Supernatural, which used to be one of my favorite things to binge-watch. Getting a chance to read something similar to it was so exciting! Here is my review:

Dee Moreno has a disastrous home life… but at least her time at boarding school has been a dream come true. But when she finds out that she will be kicked out from the school because of insufficient funds, Dee makes a deal with a demon: her heart in exchange for the money she needs. But the trade might have been more than she bargained for: she has to join a group of other deal-making teens to stop an otherworldly force from wreaking havoc on the planet. With reality turned on its head, Dee can only rely on this group to keep her sane, including the charming 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?

I was surprised that I liked this book. This isn’t to say that I loved the novel or expected to hate it. But I enjoyed it more than I had expected, which was nice. The story takes place in our world, except that there are demons that roam the planet. They are out in the open and they have invited people to come to them with their wishes, which they will be happy to fulfill (within reason) as long as the human in question sacrifices a body part. Most demons take an arm, or a leg, or toes. But the demon (or Daemon, as he is referred to in the book) that Dee meets with takes hearts. I loved the way this novel began and it really had me hooked. It wasn’t the best beginning in the world – some thing could have been explained better – but it did the job of capturing my interest. And it held my interest … until the halfway point. After that, things started to drag a bit and I got quite bored. This is because of 2 things: not much was happening in the story, and the characters were quite flat. Let me address the first point: you would expect there to be a bit more action when a group of teens have to deal with creepy monsters that are trying to destroy the world. But the action only gets going at the end. Most of the story is all about Dee dealing with her emotions and her family life and her slow start to a relationship with James. This brings me to point #2: the characters were too flat for me to connect with. When something happened in a character’s life, I didn’t feel anything for them. There was no sadness when someone died, or happiness when something good happened, or even empathy when trying to understand Dee’s sad home life. And even though the author properly developed the time frame for the romance that ensued between James and Dee, I didn’t actually feel the love between them. It was just very flat. And the characters that I did like didn’t have enough development for me to get to know them and form the connection I wanted. The one thing I wanted to commend the author on was how she brought up the topic of abuse. It was done very well and really made readers understand the toll it can take on someone to have to live in an abusive home (whether it is physical or emotional abuse). I will say that the ending saved this novel. It was fast-paced, well-written, and it gave me the emotional tug I was looking for. I was going to give it a 2/5 stars but because the beginning and ending were so good, and the writing style worked for me, my rating has gotten bumped up to 3/5 stars.

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