Ira Bloom Crafts YA Must-Read: Hearts & Other Body Parts

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Hearts & Other Body Parts by Ira Bloom

Ira Bloom's HEARTS & OTHER BODY PARTS reads with such fluidity and magnetism that it's difficult to believe this is a debut novel. It's a YA romance novel that blends urban fantasy with modern reality to the point that it is neither one and better than both.

Esme, Katy and Ronnie Silver are sisters attending the same high school. Esme is an intellectual overachiever, Ronnie is a natural beauty and knows it, and Katy is an everygirl whose fun to have around. They're also witches. Real spell-casting, potion-brewing, hex-tossing witches. And, no, they're not attending Monster High, tempting though it might be to draw the comparison. Middleton is an average high school filled with everyday kids -- and three witches.

But things are getting weirder in Middleton, beginning with the arrival of the new kid. Norman Stein is ugly. He's huge. He's also been dead a while. A victim of acromegaly, Norman is over seven foot tall, and has been through more medical procedures than he can count, leaving him scarred all over and with bolts in his neck that support his skeletal brace. Despite his appearance, he is peaceful, erudite, and smart enough to give Esme a run for her money in the grades department. Esme is instantly attracted to him on a mental level, and is the first to break from the crowd of repulsed students to become his friend, with her sisters following suit. It's an example not everybody follows, however, and we are on hand for the pacifist Norm to take the abuses from the popular kids and jocks.

Things take a turn for the dangerous, however, when another new student comes to town. Zack Kallas is charmingly British and brutally handsome. Almost instantly every female is smitten with him, including teachers. Everyone loves Zack -- and the Silver sisters are no exception. Suddenly, the sisters who were once so close find themselves plotting against each other, casting hexes and charms to help or hinder, so long as they get to be the one close to Zack.

But spells come at a cost, and some of them, if used for the wrong purposes, could damn your soul to hell -- which is just fine and dandy with Esme's familiar, a talking demon cat named Kasha. He's behind quota on soul delivery, and getting Esme to throw away her soul serves his self-interests just fine.

Norm struggles to reach Esme, to convince her that her infatuation with Zack is blinding her to important things -- things like the disappearances of young girls all around town lately. Can he get through to Esme in time to break the spell on her, and get her to see clearly the evil that has come to Middleton?

HEARTS & OTHER BODY PARTS is a fantastic blending of magic and science. Bloom has done an admirable job crafting believable explanations to give plausibility to a Frankenstein monster and a vampire in high school. It's humorous, not because of a silly setting but through cerebral conversation. It's romantic, but not in the traditional gothic vampire vein. And it's scary AF, because Bloom finally shows YA readers that vampires aren't sparkly hardbodies you can have a relationship with, but bloodthirsty murdering monsters. It's a literary black hole that will suck you in from the first chapter and hold you in its gravity until you've finished it. And just when you think you've seen every novel twist coming, Bloom throws another at you. (Three words: Yiddish Demon Lawyer.)

Clever chapter headings, engaging dialogue, real turmoil, supernatural threats, and a harrowing life-or-death struggle all come together to make HEARTS & OTHER BODY PARTS something that absolutely must be on your reading list this March.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0