Title: The Hearts We Sold
 Emily Lloyd-Jones
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review Spoilers:  Low
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Every now and again you come across a book that you enjoy so much you’re already recommending it to people before you’re even finished reading it. That was how I felt about The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. I was barely one hundred pages in and I was already telling everyone who would listen that they needed to check it out.

And now I’m here to tell all of you the same thing: read this book!

The Hearts We Sold is a unique story set in an alternate world where demons are real. They’ve come out of the woodwork and, in a macabre twist, they make deals with humans in exchange for body parts. They may be able to grant your wish for wealth and fame but it comes at cost – often a limb. But our main character, Dee, is forced to give up another part of herself. Along with a group of other teenagers, she’s bound herself to a demon who calls himself Agathodaemon by giving him her heart.

The demon has them performing dangerous work for him with the promises that after completing two years of service they’ll be free – heart, wishes, and all. The trick seems to be surviving that long. But the days get easier to manage as she finds herself growing closer to one of her teammates, a prolific young artist named James.

The question begged by the book’s tagline is this: can you really fall in love when you’ve already given up your heart?

I agree, it does sound a little dramatic and super cheesy. And the answer is, yes, you can. One of the best parts of this book is seeing how Dee and James’ relationship develops as the story progresses. I love the two of them together and their relationship hardly feels forced like a lot of young adult romances can. It helps that they’re such well defined characters. Their personalities and motivations become clear and that helps readers connect with them and embrace their budding relationship.

Dee was the perfect person to tell this story through. She’s a smart, determined person but she’s faced with hardships that she doesn’t think she can overcome on her own. Like so many of the other characters in this book, she’s a kid who has become so desperate in her day-to-day life that her only option is to make a deal with a demon in order to find something better. Throughout the book Dee ends up facing some pretty difficult moments – not all of them even remotely related to the demons.

While this may be a book set around demons and deals and dangerous missions, the core of the story is it’s human element. Each of the characters have their own reasons for making a deal with the demon and, while the book focuses primarily on Dee, everyone’s motivations are ultimately revealed.

Emily Lloyd-Jones, does a fantastic job of fleshing out each of the characters and making them feel real. They’re a diverse group of people dealing with some very real issues. Besides that, they’re young and impulsive and trapped in their deals with the demon – and you see what that does to them over time. You see how it can weigh them down and push them in the wrong direction. And you can understand how they got to this point in the first place.

The focus on the human characters is really what makes this book so great. 

Demons exist in this world but there’s still a sense of mystery surrounding them. Even as the book reveals some of their secrets, the interactions with Agathodaemon and the others are limited. When we do see them they often set themselves apart from Dee and the others. That limited look into their world helps frame the story. The decision Dee makes to make a deal with the demon and the things Agathodaemon has these kids doing are hugely important.

But I think that using the demons sparingly helps keeps the story focused on Dee and her journey. It’s also a unique sort of world building. Keeping the supernatural element at arm’s length for a good portion of the story keeps you wanting more – and it makes you appreciate what you do see and learn. I loved it.

Granted, I loved the book as a whole.

It’s incredibly well written with a unique plot and world building. It’s also a complete story in and of itself, which is rare in young adult fiction these days. It’s a standalone novel and I can 100% say that I walked away from it more than satisfied. Not that I’d say no to revisiting this world someday. This is the first book I’ve read by Emily Lloyd-Jones, but you can rest assured that after reading The Hearts We Sold I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of her work.

If you’re a fan of young adult supernatural fiction then this is the perfect read for you. Demons, romance, and awesome characters abound. The Hearts We Sold is definitely one of the year’s must-read young adult novels!

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