Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 3rd January 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy
Other Titles by this Author: The Replacement, Smoulder
Hannah’s best friend, Lillian, starved herself to death six months ago, and Hannah’s been haunted by her ever since. But now Hannah’s ghost has an urgent task for Hannah – someone is killing girls in their suburban neighbourhood, and the victims want justice. Drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets, Hannah slowly pieces the clues together, starting with the child-like paper valentines the killer leaves on each body. But her investigations are bringing her into the Valentine Killer’s orbit. How long before he strikes again?
Paper Valentine has such an intriguing premise and a gorgeous cover, but I had heard that it was a little slow to start, but I decided to give it a shot.
As with Brenna Yovanoff’s second novel, Smoulder, I found this a little slow to start. It took me until around half way through the novel to become properly involved in the characters and the story, but when I did, I flew through the rest of it.
This is both a ghost story and a murder mystery, but I found that the murders came through a lot stronger than the fact that Lillian is a ghost. Paper Valentine didn't feel like a paranormal YA, which I guess it technically was, because there was no questioning from Hannah or Lillian as to why she was still there and they didn't look for an explanation. It was simple: Lillian starved died, and then came back for Hannah. I thought this was clever and I really enjoyed it because sometimes I even forgot that Lillian was a ghost and it left the story to focus on Hannah’s burgeoning relationship with Finny and the Valentine Killer.
For a long time, Finny was the only character I Paper Valentine that interested me. It was both horrified and fascinated by the prejudice and accusations he received nearly exclusively as a result of his appearance, poor grades and who he has ended up hanging around with. The contrast between the person they thought he was and who Hannah saw was extreme and it really made an impact. But I have to say that apart from Hannah’s sister April and her friend Pinky, I didn’t like any of Hannah’s other friends. They were horrible and I didn't even really like Lillian very much.
I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for Hannah to try and deal with how and why Lillian died with her ghost not allowing her a second to herself. Being constantly with someone would be difficult even if it’s not your dead best friend that won’t go away. Handling that on top of the murders and normal teenage boy issues – phew! Hannah handled it remarkably well as it made me admire as well as like her. Even though she seemed fine, the way that she referred to how things had been before Lillian got really sick and then died illustrated just how much Lillian’s death changed her. It broke my heart a little.
The whole novel built up to the reveal of the Valentine Killer’s identity, and boy I was not expecting that! It took me by complete surprise and that alone makes me look forward to seeing what Brenna Yovanoff releases next.
Thank you to S&S for providing me a copy for review.