Title: The Hearts We Sold
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown/Hachette
“When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a devil–her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life–she finds her trade may be 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 ever could have 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 like love grows between them amidst an otherworldly ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: can she give James her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?”
The Hearts We Sold has a truly unique and fascinating premise, and I was so excited to pick up what promised to be a Faustian tale of epic proportions. Demons have made themselves know to the world, and offer to trade a person’s desire in exchange for a piece of that person. Prosthetic limbs mark those who have made deals for all to see, and our protagonist Dee finds herself in need of a deal. While her motivations (and ultimately what she makes a deal for) seemed a bit underwhelming, the real excitement begins once Dee leases her heart away for two years. Dee becomes a “heartless” and becomes involved with a troop of others with a world-saving task assigned by their Daemon.
Dee comes from a home that shows a more nuanced side to abusive families, and I liked the way that was portrayed. On the whole, however, Dee was a likable enough but fairly vanilla protagonist who didn’t leave a lasting impression. I did love the heartless gang and their missions, and would have preferred to see even more of that explored.
The Hearts We Sold, rather unfortunately, falls into the trappings of most paranormal romance stories, and that made everything else that was great about this book suffer. The love interest (because of course there’s a love interest, these teenagers have given up their HEARTS WE MUST HAVE ANGST) felt like an amalgamation of standard boy tropes, and I ultimately didn’t buy this romance. I would have enjoyed this book so much more without a forced romantic subplot. That being said, there’s a relationship between two female side characters, one of whom is trans, and that coupling worked much better in my opinion.
I definitely wanted more world building from this story – again, that tantalizing premise! This book needed more backstory, more information about the demons and the people who make deals with them. Generally, I just wanted a bit more foundation than is provided. This book is marketed for fans of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo, but in my opinion The Hearts We Sold doesn’t quite go far enough to earn that comparison. It did, however, make me think about whether I’d ever make a deal with a demon, and what I’d trade.
Rating: 3.25 stars (yeah it’s a silly rating I know but that’s what we’re going with)
*I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.