Monday, January 14, 2013

♥ Paper Valentine ♥ Review & Discussion

Paper Valentine
Title: Paper Valentine
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Source: Net Galley
Format: eGalley
Rating: 5 stars (Brandy) 4.5 stars (Malissa)

~Goodreads 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.


Since Malissa and I were reading the same book at the same time, we thought we might try a dual review, just for fun, and have it be more like a book discussion. Since we now live hours apart, we were shooting thoughts back and forth via email. Really, we only discussed a little bit before we both finished the book, but I'll include those thoughts here as well. :) But you'll get both our thoughts on it.

Thoughts before finishing:

So, I went into this book without any idea what it was about which I don't usually do. I'm sure a read summary or description at some point, but it's been so long that all I knew starting the book was the title and that I liked Brenna Yovanoff's other book I'd read (The Replacement). I think I should do this more often! It really adds a sense of mystery to an already mysterious storyline.

Which brings me to my next point. What genre would you put this in? I know almost nothing (especially in the YA world) fits into a single genre anymore, but I was expecting more straight paranormal/fantasy like The Replacement. Granted, being haunted by the sometimes hostile ghost of your dead best friend is definitely paranormal, but it's not the main storyline? Or is it...? Is it a murder mystery? Will the two combine at some point? Or does the presence of a ghost have nothing to do with a serial killer on the loose? I really have no idea where this book is going at this point (39%), and I like it!

I especially like the characters that Brenna Yovanoff creates. They're real people and never these perfect gorgeous creatures everyone wants to be. And they never have the audacity to sparkle. I also like how when our main character likes a boy, Yovanoff never tells that he's drop dead gorgeous (or even that he's not), she just tells us that Hannah is attracted to him and that's enough. I love that!

I am in the same boat - by the time I started it I had forgotten what it was about, I just knew I wanted to read it because it was a Brenna book. :)

I am not sure what genre it would fall under, really. I mean, there's definitely the murder mystery plot and the ghost plot, so I would think it could fall under both of those. Even at 76% I'm not sure exactly what one has to do with the other. and what part Hannah plays in it. I'm not wanting to say too much, here, because I'm not sure what details you have gotten to and I don't want to give anything away.

I am LOVING the world Brenna creates; it's real, yet obviously not due to the supernatural elements to it. The characters are believable, even the dead one. And I do like that no one sparkles.

Thoughts after finishing: 

Right now, I'm at a 4.5 on this book. Most of the way through I was pretty close to a 5, but the ending just felt a little rushed to me. At first I also thought it seemed a bit too easy, but upon reflection, I think it was more that it all wrapped up so quickly compared to the slow build of the bulk of the book. I may change my mind depending on how much the book "sticks" with me.

I went into this book with little idea what it was about. I got an ARC from NetGalley a couple of months ago, and I'm sure I read the description at the time, but who can keep track? I've read Brenna Yovanoff's first book The Replacement (and liked it quite a bit), so I was assuming paranormal/fantasy of some kind. In reality, I'd almost call this one more magical realism mixed with murder mystery with a dash of horror (though not really truly scary) plus a dose of romance. Yay for genre mixing!

What I loved: The characters! I loved Hannah (our main character) and Ariel (her little sister) and Finny (the love interest). Oh how I loved Finny! I love that Yovanoff's characters are so imperfect yet so likable. As I told Brandy early on in the book, I love that none of them have the audacity to sparkle! And Hannah really grew and developed as a character during the course of the book. The romance between Hannah and Finny was believable and felt real. There was palpable chemistry but no love at first sight business. I found myself really pulling for them, and was soooo disappointed in Hannah when she doubted him! (did I mention how much I loved Finny?)

I also really liked the atmosphere and pacing of the book. It was creepy but not really scary. The mystery was a lot of fun and the answer wasn't easy to see (at least I didn't see it). The whole thing had a slightly gothic feel to it and the heat wave and dead bird epidemic really helped to set the mood for me.

What I didn't love: OK it was just one thing, but it shaved off half a star which makes me rather sad. The ending came together too fast for me. I think it's because the pace of the actual book is slower (not it a bad way, but in a building of suspense kind of way) and then both storylines (or what I though of as two storylines) wrap up in nearly the same scene. I felt like I needed 15 or 20 more pages to make the resolution really work for me. But maybe that's just me.

Overall a great book. A lot of fun. And a promising book for discussion (teen book club anyone?) An author who just keeps getting better. I'll definitely be picking up Brenna Yovanoff's next book!

Since I finished before Malissa, I waited on her response to the book so I didn't ruin anything for her. This is my response to hers. :)

I went back and forth before settling on 5 stars. For the same reason. The ending felt a bit rushed for me as well. But the world she created, the fact that I forgot I was reading most of the time, bumped it up to a five star rating for me.

I definitely agree with your genre mixing. This definitely doesn't fit in just one genre nicely. Wonder if she needed a recipe card. :)  The characters were amazingly done. Realistically so. Not a single one was perfectly perfect and one died trying to be. I hated when she doubted Finny as well, but I felt it rang true to making the story plausible. Blind faith is one thing, but, especially when you are a teenager, when everyone is telling you something about someone you start feel that there must be some truth behind it. She rallied, though, and stuck to her own beliefs and feelings about him, which nearly made me cheer out loud for them. :)

Creepy but not scary - I like that. I wasn't scared at all, but it was a goosebumpy type book for me. I love the Gothic feel Brenna adds to her books. She brings the story alive through writing such amazing characters and having the ability to put you there. I think without the heat wave and dead bird epidemic the mood of the book would not have been nearly as bleak or haunting.

I agree with the ending going a bit faster paced than the rest of the book. But man, did you see that coming? I didn't. I kept mine at five stars though, despite being slightly disappointed with the resolution just being flung at me. So, no, I don't think it was just you. I just felt her writing, the world she created and the rabbit hole (ha!) I was able to go down that kept me forgetting I wasn't actually there made up for that one flaw. :)

Definitely a great book club book, for sure. I'm with you on picking up her next one. I imagine I have quite a wait, though. :(  At least they're worth the wait!

Have you read Paper Valentine? What did you think of it? If you haven't read it, do you think you will?



  1. They're so worth the wait! Something I had thought about saying and then forgot to mention is that I kind of love how her books (so far) are all stand alone titles. Waiting for the next book is still overrated, but at least there's no cliffhangers!

    1. I am rather happy about them being standalone novels as well. I will forgive her if she ever decides to do a series or even a sequel, but it's a nice change. :)

  2. I'm excited to read it. I liked The Replacement (it's been a while seen I've read it), and Brenna Yovanoff is such a good writer. This is a great way to do a review! I like the discussion, it makes it seem like you're just casually chatting like at a book club or something! Cool idea :D

    1. Thanks! :)

      I do love Brenna Yovanoff's writing... a lot! If you haven't read The Space Between you should pick that one up sometime too.



Thank you so much for taking your time to share your thoughts! I try to respond to everyone. :)