Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
- Method of Obtaining: I obtained my copy from my local library.
- Published by: Razorbill
- Release Date: 01.08.2013
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.
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.
I really hate not liking a book. Especially when that book has a fantastic cover and title and a great premise backing it up. But this is the second time Brenna Yovanoff has tricked me into picking up a book with her pretty covers and interesting premises and the second time I’ve been disappointed by what I’ve read. And folks, that breaks my heart, because I really, really wanted to love this book and I really wanted to love Yovanoff as a writer. I kept making excuses all the way through Paper Valentine but finally, about 3/4ths of the way through, I decided to finish the book because I needed to finish it and not because I wanted to finish it. My excuses ran dry.
There are several big issues that I have with Paper Valentine. I’m going to go through them one at a time. You may disagree with me – but as someone who reads a lot of books each year, I can tell you that there is a lot of great stuff and a lot of crap going through my hands at various times and you quickly learn to pick out what is just not good.
First: Hannah. Where do I begin? She’s haunted by the ghost of her best friend. She seems to have no backbone, then suddenly has backbone. She is into boys – but only those who seem to have hurt her at some point in her past. She is so many fragments of so many different things that I had a major issue trying to just figure her out. The real mystery of the story was “Who is Hannah” – because if I cannot identify with the main character, any other mysteries or strange happenings just don’t make sense to me.
Second: Hannah’s parents. I know little about them except they sometimes cook together and her step-father has a sleeve tattoo. Seriously – it’s mentioned at least three times. I don’t know why this is relevant – is he some kind of badass? Is he a cool guy? Does he represent something in Hannah’s life? Where is her real father? How long have her mother and step-father been married? Is Hannah’s younger sister a product of the marriage of Hannah’s mother and step-father? These are valid, real questions and would have done wonders for fleshing out Hannah’s background.
Third: Lillian. I get what Yovanoff is trying to do here with the guilty that Hannah is struggling with due to Lillian’s death but.. seriously, repeating the same things over and over does not make Lillian’s death more powerful. It becomes redundant and feels like a gimmick. Oh – Lillian died slowly, cue the tears. Sound harsh? Perhaps it is but I got so tired of reading the same lines (almost word for word) describing Lillian’s passing. I wanted to know more about Lillian and why she ticked the way she ticked. Why Hannah didn’t say anything. Why no one stepped in, even when the signs were visible, and most importantly, I wanted to see some kind of message on the right way to handle that situation if you ever see your friend experiencing it. Not just guilt after all is said and done.
Fourth: The mystery/thriller section. Okay, so I didn’t get the significance of the birds. Yeah, it’s creepy but it didn’t fit. I could understand the constant descriptions of the heat – it set the mood (but mostly I just wanted to sit in front of a fan while I read the book). And finally, I was beyond surprised when we went from knowing nothing about this murderer on the loose to when all of the sudden it seemed solved. A mystery/thriller writer Yovanoff is not. This would have been better off as an exploration of the issues that Hannah was dealing with as a result of the death of her friend. The addition of a murder mystery plus all of the other elements put into the story was just too much. Also – what was the point of the paper valentines??
So those are my issues. Unfortunately, I cannot overlook them and so I will have to say that, unfortunately, I will not be picking up Yovanoff’s future books – no matter how pretty those covers are.
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