Friday, September 5, 2014

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

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.

My Thoughts:

Paranormal teen romance with murder-mystery/coming-of-age themes going on? Yes, please!

I kind of loved this. Yovanoff has become a new favorite. Seriously. I love her eerie themes and just all the creepy stuff going on. And then her writing is beautiful. I don't know how she does it but she somehow manages to make everything feel melancholy. It isn't just the subject matter, either. Each paragraph has this creepy, eerie, sad-ish feel to it. In a good way. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this. Then why only 4.5 stars? I'll get to that.

Hannah is such a great protagonist. She's so relatable. And layered. (In fact, everyone is layered. So many layers. I love that) Hannah is a likable, somewhat quirky teenage girl. Who's being haunted by her dead best friend. So you see different sides of her throughout the novel that are just so... normal. I mean, everyone acts differently in different situations but few novelists portray it so well. So in any given scene Hannah could be the smiley, nice girl wearing funky homemade dresses; Or the emotionally wrecked girl hiding in her bedroom; Or the comfortably silent girl; The nice big sister; The pestering big sister; The obsessively curious girl. That list could go on. I don't think Yovanoff knows how to write a flat character. Which is so wonderful since regular people aren't flat at all. No one is. Unless you're reading poorly-written fiction where there are lots of flat characters.

Lillian was interesting and super creepy. I mean, she's Hannah's best friend who died six months earlier from anorexia and is now haunting her. Lillian seemed like a really terrible friend. Every time I read her in the novel I couldn't help but think how much I didn't like her. She was rude and conniving. But I did get that they had a real friendship. They really cared for each other. And the way Lillian's story unfolded never felt like Yovanoff was being preachy about anorexia. Which was nice. Lillian even explains the whys and hows of the illness but it just feels like a natural part of the story, not Yovanoff hopping up on a soapbox. It was well-done. A very tasteful way to present a very serious subject. Well-done.

Finny Boone was so well written. He hardly says anything but you find out so much about him through his actions. He's just... complex. I wish there could be a sequel to this just so I could read more about Finny. And I understand why Yovanoff explained so little about him, I do. A lot is implied and I could guess most of his motives for doing whatever-it-is he did but I really would just like to read more of him. His nuances, his expressions, even the few things he says are so intriguing. Yeah, more would be nice. Or maybe another character similar to him in another book? That would be great, too.

A lot of the book was dedicated to the serial killer thing. Honestly, I did not guess the killer at all. Totally blindsided me. Which I would normally think was a good thing except that it was so unexpected that it felt unrealistic. Almost like, "Really? Did you just decide to make that person the killer because no one would ever guess they were the killer? Because it's kind of unbelievable even after it's been explained?" It almost felt like a cop-out. But it did keep me guessing all the way to the end, which I did like. So there's that.

This was a really great read. And, despite the title, didn't actually have anything to do with Valentine's Day. BTW, I love the cover art. Beautiful. So if you like creepy themes, melancholy writing and beautifully-written characters, you'll totally love this. *sigh*

Sexual Content: Mild
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Drugs/Alcohol: Mild (I honestly don't remember; There may not have been any at all)

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