Paper Valentine – Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine – Brenna YovanoffTitle: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Publishing Info: January 8, 2013 by Penguin
Genres: Ghosts, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 1, 2013

    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.


This is one of the times I get upset with a book synopsis — It didn’t give away any spoilers or anything (which is the reason I generally avoid reading the summaries), but when it says that Lillian is pushing Hannah to investigate the murders, I wouldn’t really say that it was Lillian’s idea one way or the other. Lillian is almost like Hannah’s stream of consciousness in PAPER VALNETINE and I’d say that although she’s a character unto herself, she plays out the dialogue that Hannah would probably be having with herself it Lillian wasn’t there. To me, I felt like Lillian was an outlet for Hannah to feel okay looking deeper into the details of the murders and sneaking peeks at the crime scene photos because Lillian was there and Lillian was always getting into that kind of stuff. Not a huge deal, but it just bothered me a little bit — That could also just be my interpretation but it almost makes it seem like Hannah really had to be convinced to start investigating and I think it was a little part of her all along; Lillian was just kind of the nod of approval and the little bit of encouragement that she needed.

Okay, now that I’m past that…. I really enjoyed the book! I thought the mystery of the murders was really nicely done and I found myself jumping from one person to the next, wondering if they were the person behind the gruesome murders. Surprisingly, I really liked the involvement of the ghosts and how they really carried the plot and became an integral part of the story. I am totally and completely terrified of seeing ghosts for some reason and whenever I read books or watch movies about ghosts, I’m usually scared for days — PAPER VALENTINE didn’t leave me with a creepy ghost feeling though. Yes, they were brutal and pretty creepy at times, but there was also almost an air of normalcy that Hannah was communicating with them – Probably because of Lillian’s constant presence and although I’m sure she made a very chilling ghost to look at, when others started popping up, I knew it was to be helpful and not harmful.

The romance. Hmmmm. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Somehow I never really got on board with Finny. I couldn’t picture him with bleach blonde hair despite his description, I think mainly just because the name Finny created an image in my head that didn’t look like the character so that was a mental battle in my head, trying to make him look like he was described. Anyway… It wasn’t the fact that he was a “delinquent” or that he was missing his pinky finger… Maybe it was just the quiet nature of his character and somehow it just didn’t come across to me as genuine like for Hannah. I think it was also the constant underlying suspicions of every single other character in the book – and even a little from Hannah — that made me not want to trust him. I just didn’t find myself rooting for the two of them to really get together.

To sum it up, it was a really great read — Definitely creepy and a bit morbid but in a way that kept me flipping pages, excited to know how the book was going to end. I really liked Hannah as the main character and it was a totally different kind of dynamic between her and her family/friends than the usual happy-go-lucky YA novel. If you’re ready for a little darker of a story, I’d definitely recommend it!

character_breakdown1Hannah: I really enjoyed Hannah as a main character. She was different than I expected her to be. I almost felt like without Lillian, she was still trying to figure herself out, that she was missing a piece of herself, so that made it really interesting to see how she started to readjust in her group of friends, in her relationships, and in her family dynamic as well. She was definitely a different kind of character and I actually found myself feeling emotional about her – Like I was really sorry for her loss and Lillian being there as a constant reminder wasn’t helping. I did see her slowly change throughout the book and I really liked how the book ended and how we closed the story with Hannah coming out a little bit more confident after the whole ordeal.
Finny: Ehhhh somehow I just didn’t get the romance between Finny and Hannah. I think it was his quiet nature that kind of kept me on the outside and I didn’t really get to know his character enough. All of the accusations of him being a suspicious character from all of Hannah’s family and friends didn’t help either!
Lillian: For some reason as creepy and unstable as Lillian’s character – or ghost of a character I guess – is, I think she may have been one of my favorites. She was kind of the all-seeing character in the book and poked and propped Hannah to see things she wasn’t seeing or to make her question herself or to encourage her to do things. She really moved the plot along and even though her physical presence on Earth was missing, her constant presence around Hannah made her an extremely important part of the book. Even being deceased, even her character showed a little growth. It was a very interesting aspect of the story and I liked what she brought to it. 


Read it!

This book was really interesting. I loved the combination of mystery/thriller and paranormal with the ghostly sort of haunting.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE PAPER VALENTINE


Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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13 thoughts on “Paper Valentine – Brenna Yovanoff

  1. Tara

    I’ve seen this on Printz lists…do you think it would be a contender for the “best of 2013 literary YA?” Like, should I add it to my pre-Youth Media Awards crunch time reading list?

    1. Brittany Post author

      You know… I really liked it but it wasn’t quite award winning in my book. I actually think a lot of people enjoyed it more than me, I think because they connected better with the romance (whereas I did not) but I really enjoyed the premise of the book and the mystery was really great! Actually, I think the romance was the thing holding me back from calling it “great”. I think it’s very enjoyable though!

  2. Stormy

    Thanks for the review–I’ve been on the fence about reading this one because I, like you, normally get really freaked out about ghosts(only in books though. See a ghost in a movie? I’m fine. Don’t ask me why), but the idea from the reviews I’ve read make me think this book won’t be toooo creepy/scary for me.

    1. Brittany

      Nah, it shouldn’t be too scary! I literally put down Anna Dressed in Blood and couldn’t read it because I was freaked out but the ghosts in this book aren’t supposed to be scary ghosts, so I think that helped.

  3. Quinn

    I really liked Paper Valentine. Lillian was an amazing character. I did like Finny (although I did have a hard time picturing him with the insane hair, too) and I actually did think Finny and Hannah made a good couple. I liked how they were both so quiet, and okay with silence. I do wish we could have gotten to know him a bit more, though.

    Glad you enjoyed Paper Valentine.

    1. Brittany

      Yeah, I really think I was just missing knowing more about him. I liked that he was quiet and how well that interacted with Hannah, but I feel like I never got to know him because of it.
      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  4. kaylathebookworma

    Lovely review! Lillian was probably my favorite as well! Put aside the murders, I loved her story and her personality.


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