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06 Mar PAPER VALENTINE: A Haunting Friendship

Paper ValentinePaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
Published by Razorbill on January 8th 2013
Pages: 368
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.
Recommended Read?: Yes, it's a good read with only a couple of bumps along the way. If you liked THE REPLACEMENT (Yovanoff's debut, NYT Bestseller), you'll enjoy this book. It's not as dark, but similar in ways.
Buy the Book (Book Depository)Buy the Book (Amazon)


Interesting, good development of Hannah and her family, by the end of the first chapter I was hooked.

It’s a story focused around a serial killing, with a haunting twist. I loved the justification for why Hannah was playing amateur sleuth: she felt oddly connected the girls, mostly because they wouldn’t leave her alone, and thus had no choice but to pursue the case or go insane. I also really enjoyed the subplot of Hannah and Lillian. There was the perfect mix of mystery on both the plots that when we got a little development on one (for example, how Lillian died) we were given another thing to wonder about with the serial killer.

I thought I knew how this story was going to end. When I got the “White Rabbit” chapter, I was certain I was right. Then … Yovanoff threw a curve ball and I was pleasantly surprised. That being said there was something that annoyed me deeply. It’s a common thing in YA mystery (and I think mystery in general), but it’s a slight spoiler so if you want to read it you’ll have to highlight it. It’ll be in white now: the bad guy confessed all to Hannah. There was a far better justification behind why he did that in this book than in other mysteries, but in real life I’m a 100% positive a serial killer wouldn’t give a damn what Hannah thought and would just kill her, end of story.

Hannah develops well as a character. She’s very retable and I liked her. I loved how she thought she knew who she was, then something shook her up, and left her lost. By the end of the story, I was thoroughly impressed with the person Hannah became (or, perhaps, always was).

That being said, there were times when I just wanted Hannah to do something. Yell at Lillian for being a brat, scream out her anger, do something — but I know why she didn’t (guilt) and I knew Yovanoff wanted us to feel this way for suspense/drama.

Lillian was one of those characters that I couldn’t stand one second, but sympathized with the next. She was good and bad at the same time. Sane and insane. Really, the perfect ghost.

All of Hannah’s family was interesting. I liked how odd and refreshing Decker was as a father figure and how loud-mouthed and spirited Ariel was. The complexity of Finny was very interesting as well.

At first, I thought the Finny/Hannah romance was going to be a bother and a horrible idea. He seemed like a really bad apple and I’m really not into those types of boys. But first impressions aren’t always right, which really seems to define Finny. I ended up really adoring this romance, it’s one of the better relationships I’ve read lately. Yovanoff has a real talent for describing the way girl’s feel and the wonderful sensations of first kisses.

I enjoyed the pace, I never noticed it lagging at any point. I liked how the background story and the present-drama were weaved together. There was tension and some suspense over what was to come. At some points in the story, I think we were supposed to be scared of the ghosts and what they were up to and I’ll admit they were a bit creepy, but it’s definitely not frightening.

There’s growth between The Replacement and this book. I think Yovanoff has become a favorite author of mine.

I started to read this before bed one night and ended up staying up way, way, way late to finish it. It’s that intriguing. If you like a murder-mystery with a paranormal twist, you’ll enjoy this book.


Realms Of An Open Mind: 4 Stars

Alluring Reads: 4 Stars

Dear Author: Unfavorable (Warning: Spoilers in this review)

YA Book Queen: 4 Stars

Find Paper Valentine at: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Indie Bound, or add it on Goodreads


Horror Disclosure: This isn’t a horror book, not even a little bit. There’s suspense and dramatic/deadly situations, but nothing horror-esque (regardless of the ghosts).

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Freelance Editor at Wild Things Editing
I'm a designer, a freelance editor, an intern for Bree Ogden at Red Sofa Literary and, most importantly, a book blogger. Reading wise I’m a huge fan of anything creepy, weird, whimsical, or sinister — and zombies. Gotta love zombies. Oh, and I'm a YA writer represented by Prospect Agency.

Latest posts by Kim (see all)

  • Jessie Harrell (@JessieHarrell)
    Posted at 07:15h, 06 March Reply

    thanks for posting such a thorough review – it sounds like a book I’d really enjoy.

    • Kim
      Posted at 07:46h, 06 March Reply

      Thank you for stopping by :)

  • ewgibson
    Posted at 07:21h, 06 March Reply

    Excellent review. I want to check this book out. :)

    • Kim
      Posted at 07:47h, 06 March Reply

      It’s definitely a worth-while read :)

  • lexacain
    Posted at 09:20h, 06 March Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your detailed review. It bugs me when I watch things like CSI or L&O and the criminal gets arrested and immediately confesses everything. Most serious criminals never do that in real life. So I understand your point about that. Thanks for all the info! :-)

    • Kim
      Posted at 09:33h, 06 March Reply

      I know, right? Whenever I’m watching LAW & ORDER and the killer confesses (when his lawyer is right next to him no less!) it drives me a little crazy. No one would do that. Unless they were truly, truly sorry for what they did — but that’s got to be rare.

  • Henrietta @ Leisure Reads
    Posted at 10:23h, 06 March Reply

    I enjoyed reading your thorough review, Kim – thanks for sharing your thoughts. I haven’t considered picking this up as I was afraid this is a horror story. I think I’ll now have to reconsider :)

    • Kim
      Posted at 10:40h, 06 March Reply

      I’m glad you liked it. It does seem like it could have veered toward the horror path from the summary and cover, but it stayed safely away from that genre.

  • Jenni @ Alluring Reads
    Posted at 20:10h, 06 March Reply

    I really liked this one too! It was such a dark, ominous read and I loved the tone that Yovanoff maintained throughout the whole thing. I really do agree with your spoiler, I always think that as well! I’m happy that you liked this one as much as I did. I want to read Yovanoff’s other titles now (I have them, but haven’t read them.) Great review, Kim!

    • Kim
      Posted at 03:09h, 07 March Reply

      After I read this I went and read The Replacement. Yovanoff really has a talent for dark stories.

  • The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories | YA Asylum
    Posted at 14:27h, 13 March Reply

    […] I loved this collection of short stories. It completely inspired me. I checked it out from the library and then, before I was even to the end of it, I had to buy a copy for myself. It’s that good. The reason I picked this book up was because of how much I liked Brenna Yovanoff’s REPLACEMENT & PAPER VALENTINE. […]

  • YA Asylum
    Posted at 02:18h, 29 March Reply

    […] IMPRESSION: For me, the start was more interesting than the one in Paper Valentine. It set a dark tone for the rest of the book and left me dying to know more about […]

  • Mirjam
    Posted at 01:46h, 02 August Reply

    Your detailed and positive review has just convinced me to move Paper Valentine up my list of books to order! I will make sure not to start reading it before bedtime though! ;)

  • Valerie Rhodes
    Posted at 09:39h, 06 August Reply

    Thanks for the great review.. I’ve now added to my TBR.. ;)

  • US Book Haul! | YA Asylum
    Posted at 00:59h, 24 July Reply

    […] Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff. I saw a couple of reviews for this (including Kim’s!) and was intrigued by the concept – I mean, ghosts and serial killers! How could I resist? […]

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