Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff: Review

Posted January 9, 2013 by Emily in book review / 14 Comments

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff: ReviewPaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Razorbill on 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Horror & Ghost Stories, Love & Romance, Mysteries & Detective Stories
Pages: 304
Format: Advanced Review Copy
Source: Penguin Group USA

I received this book for free from Penguin Group USA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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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 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.


14 responses to “Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff: Review

  1. It's a shame this is ordinary. I love the cover! I have it on my kindle, I will probably read it at some point but not overly excited about it.

    • The cover is gorgeous! It was decent, I just didn't love it as much as I wanted to. Part of the problem may have been that I read another AMAZING serial killer book just before it.

  2. I really didn't like her other book, The Replacement, but I've been seeing pretty good reviews about it so far. I don't read a lot of big mystery books, so I'll give this one a try. Thanks for the review, Emily! 🙂

    • I didn't read The Replacement either, though it is on my shelf. She definitely has potential as a writer, but it just wasn't quite there for me.

  3. Sigh… I was hoping this one would have more positive feedback. I …kinda? liked her 1st book? But was hoping this one would step it up. I don't think I will run out and get this one right away, though I kinda want the cover as a poster lol Thanks for the honest review!

    • I didn't read the first one, so I couldn't speak to that. But, you're right, the cover is beautiful! I wouldn't be totally adverse to trying another book by her.

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