Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Release Day Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine
Brenna Yavanoff
Release: January 8, 2013
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The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

Paper Valentine is a haunting story that perfectly balances eerie and beautiful. The story, wrote in present tense, introduces us to Hannah, a teen whose dead best friend is haunting her. Although Lillian and Hannah do have a lot of normal conversations, the reader never forgets that Lillian is, in fact, dead. Her gaunt looks remind us of how she died and her creepy habit of appearing suddenly and forcing Hannah to try and ignore her while around other people remind us what Hannah's day-to-day life as someone being haunted is like.

What makes Hannah and Lillian's relationship even more difficult is the manner in which Lillian died. Although we don't ever get intricate details of her death, we know what killed her and Yovanoff manages to show us the realistic fears of a teenage girl and the horrors of what an obsession to be perfect can lead to, all without sounding like a public service announcement.

The main plot of this book is the murder mystery, although I must say that equal time is really given to solving the murders, dealing with Lillian's death, and the subplot involving Finny, which I'll get to in just a second. Hannah becomes interested in the murders after realizing a connection between the current murder and a past murder. Her 'investigation' is actually very realistic, not like some young adult books that act like a teen girl can suddenly turn into the world's greatest private investigator overnight and outsmart all the cops. Hannah is a very believable teen and her interactions with the police were fairly spot on.

The third subplot is Hannah's growing relationship with Finny, an unusual love interest and one that I really loved. Finny is that good looking but slightly scary guy in high school who just couldn't pull up his grades, the one who was beyond rough around the edges but there was just something about him... I really liked watching Hannah and Finny because the rollout of their relationship was slow moving, in the best way, and I really liked how Yavanoff peeled back Finny's layers one at a time.

Paper Valentine is a ghost tale that combines disturbing murders, serious teenage issues, and a poignant look at first "like". This was a terrific introduction for me to Brenna Yovanoff's writing, and I will be checking out her other works for certain!

Recommended for fans of: ghost stories, murder mysteries, Yovanoff's other works, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

This review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher.

  4 / 5 stars


  1. This sounds like a read that I would really enjoy. It caught my eye when writing a new release post. Thanks for your great review.

  2. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one. I'm a fan of Brenna's previous book, The Space Between, and I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. I love the sounds of the investigation and Finny. He sounds like my kind of guy. Great review! I'll be picking this one up very soon.


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