Book Review – Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Posted February 6, 2014 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA / 11 Comments

Book Review – Paper Valentine by Brenna YovanoffPaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Razorbill on January 8th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Ghosties, Horror, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: a Giveaway


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.

Hannah Wagnor is struggling to cope with the recent death of her best friend, Lillian, and the details surrounding it. There is also the fact that Lillian’s ghost now follows her everywhere. While trying to overcome her guilt at not being able to help Lillian when she was alive, Hannah is also trying to understand how to go on with life without her. In addition to Lillian’s ghost which haunts her are several other ghosts that start appearing and they are all victims of a recent serial killer in her small town.

This is actually the first story I’ve read of Brenna Yovanoff’s and I definitely enjoyed the story and her writing skills but Paper Valentine didn’t wow me as much as I’d anticipated. The storyline itself was a tale full of emotional resonance but the combination of the ‘coming-of-age’ tale of Hannah finding herself after the death of her best friend AND the serial killer taking out locals was a strange yet engaging mix that managed to work for the most part.

The narrative is told in the first person from the POV of Hannah from which we are able to see just how deeply rooted her depression is. Hannah is a compelling character yet I found many of her actions to be extremely unreasonable especially when it came to the expeditious love for the local bad boy, Finny Boone. Like the time Finny suggested they take a shortcut through the dark park? When there’s a serial killer on the loose? Or when Hannah leaves her younger sister home alone and her and Finny go off to swim in the lake? The overwrought lines regarding him were also treading on ridiculous:

“And then we’re looking at each other, and it’s a look that goes on and on, stretching across space and time. Across galaxies.”

The insta-love was there but was subdued enough to not be too bothersome. Seeing Hannah’s progression throughout the novel in finding her individual identity separate from who she was when Lillian was still alive was the most satisfying and convincing aspect of Paper Valentine. While this book had its flaws, it was a somewhat satisfying of a read and succeeded in capturing my interest for the authors previous novels.


11 responses to “Book Review – Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

  1. Honestly, I am stopping here first because I saw your 4 stars for HONOR’S KNIGHT and I will be tempted to read the review if I go anywhere near it! My copy just arrived a few days ago so I’m trailing you by far.

    I’ve only read one Yovanoff book so far, BLOOD MAGIC, and the instalove and logic gaps were insane! But I really liked a short story of hers that I read, so I was hoping this one would be good. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it, I’ll have to try it out sometime. But maybe not anytime soon.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…The Winner’s Curse: reviewMy Profile

    • Honor’s Knight is not AS good as FP but is still pretty fantastic. Can’t wait to see what you think. 🙂

      Hmmm… Blood Magic? Haven’t heard of that one. I was thinking of trying The Space Between but am undecided.

  2. I’m currently reading The Body Finder series and the same crazy stuff happens. Like the MC going for a run all alone through the woods and I’m like seriously that’s what you chose to do when there’s a serial killer in your town?! I guess there wouldn’t be room for the story to progress if the characters locked themselves in a closet and never left, haha.

  3. First, I think that cover is so pretty! I haven’t read any of Yovanoff’s books for myself, but I am intrigued by this one. The whole girl being haunted by her dead best friend reminds me a bit of “Veronica Mars,” although the plot itself sounds very different. This does sound like a strange book and I’m not sure whether this author would be for me, but I am glad you found more you enjoyed in this book than that you didn’t!
    Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books recently posted…An Evening with Lois LowryMy Profile

    • I love this cover! That’s what initially drew me to it (which is never the best way to go about picking books lol). It was a bit Veronica Mars but her best friend died from anorexia and it became a lot about not helping her with her problem when she was alive which was well done but sad. Her friend wasn’t murdered and I think if maybe she was and it was died in to the serial killer in town it would have made more sense. It felt like two storylines going on and they didn’t blend very well together. Still enjoyed it though. 🙂
      Bonnie recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor BradfordMy Profile

  4. Okay, so I don’t remember this book well enough to be super thoughtful, so bear with me. Ummm, I think part of why I was so impressed with this one is because my expectations were really low because I didn’t like her debut.

    Also, I had this awesome theory about how the dude’s first victim was actually her ghost friend to tie all of that together, but I don’t think that was actually said. Anyway.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review: The RivermanMy Profile

    • Ah, this was the first of hers I read. I think I was entranced by the lovely cover.

      I THOUGHT THE SAME THING. That would have tied everything together brilliantly and made it better for me but that wasn’t the case.

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