Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine

Book rating: 04 Hardback

By (author) Brenna Yovanoff

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  • Publisher: RAZORBILL
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 213mm x 30mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 8 January 2013
  • ISBN 10: 1595145990
  • ISBN 13: 9781595145994
  • Sales rank: 123,505

Product description

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."

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Author information

Brenna Yovanoff was raised in a barn, a tent, and a tepee, and was homeschooled until high school. She spent her formative years in Arkansas, in a town heavily populated by snakes, where sometimes they would drop turkeys out of the sky. When she was five, she moved to Colorado, where it snows on a regular basis but never snows turkeys. Her short fiction has appeared in "Chiaroscuro "and "Strange Horizons." She holds an MFA in fiction from Colorado State University and is the New York Times bestselling author of "The Replacement" and "The Space Between." She currently lives in Denver with her husband. Visit her online at www.brennayovanoff.com.

Customer reviews

By Brenna Staats 19 Mar 2013 4

Paper Valentine is the book that has absolutely convinced me that Brenna Yovanoff is one of my new favourite authors. She has such a way with words, and you just know she's going to be awesome with such a fabulous first name (hehe)!

She has this rare talent to capture so much ambience with her words - from creepy, to ethereal, to utterly romantic. And I appreciate that she puts so much thought into her stories, giving them plenty of layers to peel back.

Reasons to Read:

1. Creepy plot (complete with ghosts):

I like some of my books to be creepy, and creepy is one thing that Brenna writes so well. I was impressed with how much of the story was grounded in reality; girls going missing and turning up dead? That's real life and it is horrifying. A little bit of a paranormal twist, enhances the creepiness factor rather than detracting from it.

2. Struggling with grief:

One of my favourite aspects of Paper Valentine was how Hannah struggles with Lillian's death. She becomes increasingly aware of how complicated and messy their friendship was, and she's honest with herself about that. She struggles to balance the good memories with the bad ones, and trying to reconcile the little girl she once knew with the hurting teen her friend was at her death. This pain is very honest and real, and I appreciate how complex Brenna made their friendship and Hannah's grief.

3. Complicated characters:

Each character has their own flaws, their own struggles, and yet manage to stand out on their own as independent and life-like characters. I like how well this was done with Hannah and Lillian, as well as additional secondary characters like Finny and Hannah's sister. They can remind you so much of people you know, in both good and bad ways, and its a strength for the story.

I simply adore Brenna's writing, because there really is something hauntingly poetic about it. I loved following along with the mystery, although I was admittedly a bit disappointed with the big reveal. I like a lot of build up in my mystery plots, but they really need to deliver at the end too. It wasn't enough to ruin the story for me, but it was a bit of a let down by the end. I recognize, however, that the main purpose of the story isn't so much about who the killer is or why he's killing girls as much as it is about relationships and grief.

I highly recommend this read for anyone looking for something a bit different from the standard YA fare. I like that we're seeing more mysteries and thrillers, especially when they're as well done as Paper Valentine.

ARC received from Penguin Canada for my honest review; no other compensation was received.

By Maja (The Nocturnal Library) 25 Jan 2013 4

Paper Valentine is a book about a serial killer. It is a book about the loss of a best friend to a long and horrifying illness. It's about a girl trying to understand herself a bit better. It is about ghosts, hauntings and very strange Ouija boards. It's about a strange romance between two even stranger kids. But most of all, it's about things said, and those left unsaid.

The quiet, subtle romance was exactly what I expected from one of my favorite authors. There was this lovely, undeniable, magical understanding between Hannah and Finny that wasn't flashy or instantaneous at all. And really, who wouldn't like a guy named Finny Boone? Only Brenna Yovanoff can come up with a name like that and really pull it off - she is the reigning queen of weird and unforgettable character names. Finny himself is just as memorable, though. The only other character who spoke so little but left such an impression also came from Yovanoff's magical factory. She has a talent for writing silent types and I love her for it.

Hannah takes quiet to a whole new level. Her mind is always racing, but her mouth stays firmly shut. I liked that about her, her ability to keep her thoughts to herself even when other people would probably explode, even when the silence would become awkward and stiff. For his part, Finny isn't exactly talkative either. His silences are eloquent, but they're silences nevertheless. To anyone other than Hannah, he's just a weird, problematic guy, not someone a mother would want to see her precious daughter date, but to Hannah, he is exactly the kind of person she can relate to, talk to, even through a long stretch of silence. When so few words are spoken, a lot of things get communicated differently and the reader ends up with much more useful things.


I love that Yovanoff wrote about a real issue without turning Paper Valentine into an Issue Book. I dread issue books, they make me feel claustrophobic and depressed, but Yovanoff wrote about anorexia without making me feel suffocated or overwhelmed. She even went so far as to try and explain the hows and whys of it, but she never stepped onto a podium and started preaching. It was just a natural part of the story. Yes, Hannah had a best friend and yes, that best friend died of anorexia six months prior to the beginning of the story, but the illness itself never took center stage, and neither was it taken lightly or disrespectfully.


Even though I'm pretty good at guessing these things, I remained clueless about the serial killer until the very last minute. Looking back, there were quite a few little warning signs, but I got so caught up in Yovanoff's gorgeous writing and Finny Boone's wide shoulders that I failed to notice any of them.

While Paper Valentine doesn't quite reach the literary and emotional heights of The Space Between, it's still a book you'll be proud to own. I know I am.

Review quote

An "NPR" Best Book of 2013 A "Boston Globe" Best Book for Young Adults of 2013 A YALSA Best Book for Young Readers of 2014 A 2014 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers A 2014 Booklist Pick for Best Fiction for Young Readers