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Book Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper ValentineTitle: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Series:  Standalone
Pages: 304
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 3rd January 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
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 realises 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.

My Thoughts:
I was excited to start Paper Valentine. Look at that cover! I think it's gorgeous, so I really wanted this book to live up to the awesomeness that is the cover. Maybe my expectations were a little too high? I don't know, but this book wasn't that awesome. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it because I did... I just didn't get what I wanted from it, which is exactly what happened when I read Brenna's first book, The Replacement. I wanted it to be creepy, and fast-paced, but actually, it was pretty slow at the beginning. 

The plot was good, and I liked how Yovanoff included Hannah's best friend Lillian as a ghost, as that made it different from all the other teenage girl murder mystery kind of books that there are out there. I liked how there was a murder at the very beginning of the book, but it wasn't the first one - there was a bit of back story which I thought added some depth to the story. The murders were interesting and I wanted to find out what happened to the girls and I wanted to try to understand the killer and find out why he was leaving the girls in the way he was, and what the paper valentine he left meant, so it definitely grabbed my attention and held it, even if it did take about 100 pages for me to get fully invested in the story. 

Once past the slow beginning though, the story began to pick up and I would sit and read 100 pages of it in just an hour or so (it's very well written in that it's very easy to read) and it didn't take me long to finish it after that (being only 300 pages long). I liked the way the story came together at the end, and the way the murderer was revealed, but I think that it glossed over that a little too quickly - it's a book about murder after all, so why not focus on the murderer and why he did it? I felt that there were an awful lot of unanswered questions at the end, and that if there were just another couple of chapters, everything could have been sorted out and I wouldn't still be left wondering things about the plot that I can't tell you or I'll spoil :P

On the whole, the characters were good. At the beginning, Hannah was a bit pathetic and annoying, and I actually much preferred Lillian, the ghost of her best friend who recently starved herself to death. Sounds morbid, I know, but I actually think that her death and her feelings and thoughts and explanation of why she did it was actually written very well, and was possibly one of my favourite things about the book. Anyway, back to Hannah. About half way through she grew up and finally managed to stand up to her bitchy 'friends', and I loved that. I don't like it when people can't stand up for themselves to their friends, even though I can totally understand why not and might even be being a little bit hypocritical right now... Anyway. She was pretty awesome in one certain situation, and that is where we will leave it.

Lastly, there was Finny. He was, um, pretty awesome. I loved him! He was mysterious and intriguing, and I loved that he could look past everything that happened between himself and Hannah when they were little and could realise that people grow up and change, often for the better (another pet peeve of mine - when people don't realise this.). I liked that he was mysterious and the idea of him being the murderer was kind of exciting (and I know I sound like a mad man here, but just overlook that...) because it meant that I didn't know what was coming next and the guessing kept me interested, and I really had no idea who was murdering the girls.

So overall, even though it wasn't amazing and it was slow in the beginning, I had some really good thoughts about it once I'd closed the book after finishing. If you're looking for a really thrilling, scary and unputdownable story, probably look elsewhere but I'd definitely recommend if you like murder mysteries that aren't too scary and you would still like to go to bed with the light off! Lastly, if you're a fan of books like The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, then this would be a good choice for you!

*Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 


  1. Aside from the pacing Paper Valentine sounds pretty good. Good review; thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm not the biggest fan of this author unfortunately. It's interesting to see how different this cover is from the american one though.

  3. I enjoyed it.


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