by: Brenna Yovanoff
The summer after Lillian's death, Hannah is trying to figure out how it all fell apart. How Lillian could have died slowly in front of all of them, and why she is still haunting Hannah now. Lillian becomes even more persistent when a rash of murders in Ludlow point to a serial killer on the loose. As Hannah investigates, she comes to terms with Lillian's death, and her own struggles with her identity since her passing. And it all comes down to the Valentine Killer.
Paper Valentine begins with a bang. Lillian's entrance as a ghost and her impact on Hannah is just flat-out creepy. The description of the murder scenes and the feeling that the killer might be just around the corner adds to the suspense.
But, after a few chapters, I found myself a little bored. Serial killer novels involving a teen freelance detective can be very tough. I didn't really understand what Hannah's connection to this serial killer was. Lillian felt very compelled to solve their murders, but Hannah didn't know any of the victims, and there isn't any real brush with the killer that makes it feel like she's in any danger. I felt like the more compelling story was the one dealing with her friend dying of anorexia. Hannah feels grief-stricken and guilty because she watched her friend starve herself to death and she couldn't do anything about it. The serial-killer stuff really just took a backseat to the end.
So, the ending. There was a "don't go in the basement!" moment towards the end that really had me shaking my head. Like I said, it can be very tough in a young adult novel to write a thriller that doesn't involve some measure of going to the cops. And, I get that there has to be a certain suspension of belief. But, for this ending, it just didn't make sense that an adult was not told what was going on, and why Hannah felt like she had to do it on her own.
In the end, I liked a lot of the writing and a few of the subplots that were happening, but it wasn't quite cohesive enough for me to rave about it.