Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine
by Brenna Yovanoff
Release Date: January 8th, 2012
2012 Razorbill
Hardcover Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-59514-599-4
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal /Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada

3.5 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
Paper Valentine is one of those novels that I really wanted to like simply because I really enjoy Ms Yovanoff's writing style; she has this way of describing scenes that makes you feel like you are right there with the characters, and she certainly can come up with similes and metaphors that are quite interesting and downright fascinating. That being said though, I have to admit that there were many aspects to this novel, though quite interesting, that did leave me feeling quite exasperated and unsatisfied and it was for this reason that I gave it the rating that I did.  

It was through the use of this descriptive writing though, that I was able to get a pretty clear picture of Hannah and her thoughts, her reactions to things and events, her inner reflections on her past behaviours and her relationships with others, in particular with Lilian, as well as her loneliness.  And even though she was somewhat frustrating as a character, her inability to fight back, her inability to stand up for herself, it was quite an interesting journey Hannah had to take as she learned about herself and her strengths and weaknesses.  This did not make her more empathetic as a character however, and I still found it difficult to be overly sympathetic towards her.  Yes, we see her grow and develop and understand why she is the person she is, and how she comes to terms with herself, but there was still something there I felt was held back, like I still felt shut out.  

The murder and the issue with the ghosts was an interesting twist in this story. Again, Ms. Yovanoff has a definite skill as I could feel Lillian's icy fingers trailing across my neck or arm as she looked over Hannah's shoulder and it always had that air of creepiness that seemed to be pervasive in this novel.  Despite this, I really wasn't sure why Lillian was in the novel in the first place other than someone for Hannah to have murder discussions with as she didn't seem to have much point. It was an interesting way for Hannah to face her issues as most of them stemmed from Lillian and her domineering ways, but for me, as a reader, I would have been content dealing with just Lillian and some of the issues with Hannah and their 'friends', which I don't feel was resolved, and get rid of the romance.  And as for the romance, it didn't sit well with me.  The whole scene where they gaze into each other's eyes for eternity turned me right off.  What bothered me about it was that there was no build-up to it, it just kind of happened as if it was a last-minute thing, although I know it probably wasn't, but the whole thing just   Don't get me wrong, I like Finny, but it could have more...something to feel authentic.

Paper Valentine is an enjoyable and engaging novel with a paranormal twist.  I enjoy any novel that has an element of "hauntings" to it so I sort of wished there was more to that aspect, but it was interesting nonetheless.  I do feel like there were definitely some unresolved issues in this novel between Hannah and her other friends, and that Hannah and Lillian never really talked through their main issues either, that Hannah seems to have so much repressed anger that she carefully keeps hidden from others.  I would have liked to have seen some of that anger unleashed as it would have been rather interesting.  Otherwise, this is another interesting novel by an author whose writing style  I really like.



  1. A solid review, and you do like the author.

    Thanks for pointing this one out.