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Emily Lloyd-Jones’ The Hearts We Sold is a young-adult novel that combines science fiction, fantasy, horror, adventure, suspense, and romance. This story follows Dee Moreno, who lives mostly at Brannigan, her high school that is also a boarding school, which she much prefers to being at home with her alcoholic father. The problem is that her scholarship to this prestigious boarding school is being revoked due to funding. With her only funds coming from the money her grandmother left for her, which cannot be accessed without an adult until she is eighteen, and her father who does not believe the school is worth their time, Dee decides to make a deal with a demon to make sure she does not have to go back home to an abusive family. While most demons accept limbs, the price she must pay is giving her heart for two years, where she will be in a temporary stasis. Her wish for money makes her one of the demon’s heartless, which comes at a larger cost.
This novel is told through the third person point of view and it mainly focuses on Dee Moreno’s story. Her character development progresses through the novel from someone who no longer believes in magic due to her grandmother’s death and her living conditions at home to having to work with a group of heartless to close voids that break through their world. Only those that are not living can enter the voids and this is why heartless must take care of the problem. This work she does for the demon is interesting and the reason why the voids are appearing is a huge twist towards the end of the novel. The creatures she meets in the voids are creative, unique and blend well into the world building Lloyd-Jones created.
Dee Moreno is strong-willed and her home life is heartbreaking. Throughout the novel she becomes more courageous and trusting of others. Her relationship with the other heartless, James, Cal, and Cora, as well as her roommate, Gremma, adds to the story. There are even select chapters that show each heartless’ backstory into why they made a deal with a demon, which adds to each character’s complexity. While Dee is secretive about her past, the author does a great job sprinkling hints of what happened throughout the story, especially utilizing this in the voids, which cause hallucinations, including past events from Dee’s life.
Lloyd-Jones’ world building and imagery is vivid, as well as creative. From the first page, this story is original and interesting with a demon that Dee notices waiting outside the hospital while knitting. Additionally, this story focuses on contemporary topics, such as abusive home life and anxiety to add realism as well as depth to the story. Throughout the story Dee is searching for control while she is trying to make something of herself and the theme of trust, family and friendship is very important.
The Hearts We Sold is an adventurous tale full of twists, complex characters and it is both unique and heartbreaking. People who enjoy novels that cross genres with a compelling storyline will certainly enjoy this read!
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