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I Belong


Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: Paper Valentine

Author: Brenna Yovanoff

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: January 8, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1595145990 (Razorbill/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-1595145994 (Razorbill/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Michelle

Synopsis:

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.

Quick & Dirty: A fantastic tale of death, life, and love and will haunt you in a romanticized way.

Opening Sentence: My sister Ariel, is sprawled upside down on the couch, pointing with the TV remote.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I love Brenna Yovanoff’s writing. She won me over when I read The Replacement. I was instantly drawn to Paper Valentine by the cover. The simple, but unique font is the perfect balance to the main art: the girl. If you look closely, this is the same font used for most of Yovanoff’s books. The girl is drawn by what I think of as Victorian art, the intricacies of the design is beautiful. The bright red color of the heart is a harsh contrast to the rest of the muted and somber colors.

Paper Valentine is about death and loss, simply put. Hannah Wagnor lost her best friend Lillian six months ago. Lillian was Hannah’s link to her friends and normalcy. But Hannah can never go back to normal; she still sees and talks to Lillian, well her ghost anyway. It’s July and the temperatures are scorching in the city of Ludlow. What would have been a great summer has been ruined by someone on a murdering killing spree. The victims are young girls, younger than Hannah and as old as her younger sister, Ariel. Hannah has been seeing visions, glimpses from the victims. Hannah takes it upon herself to find out about their deaths, to uncover the secrets, and to listen to things unsaid.

Hannah is a great character. Her voice is strong, one that I haven’t seen in awhile. What she thinks and what she says are two different things, but her actions are fluid and concise. She was meant to be disconnected to the world around her, while trying to separate herself from Lillian and her life before her death. Her life up to this point has been black and white, always obedient to life and its rules. It takes awhile for Hannah to come into her own, but when she does her actual voice matches her inner thoughts. Hannah had a lot of depth, sometimes happy and mostly this melancholy state on the verge of being morbid.

The characters of Paper Valentine were great and well-rounded, adding to the many layers of the story. Her best friend, her sister, and even the unexpected boy complemented Hannah’s personality in many ways.  I felt that Lillian was the perfect mix of devil-on-the-shoulder and best friend. Yovanoff brings out the snark with Lillian, all while being loyal. It was sad to hear Hannah’s thoughts about Lillian and what she went through, and I was surprised that it was even a subject at all. Ariel and Finny were great additions to the story, but in the beginning I didn’t understand and thought it was a bit much. I didn’t see the dots connecting to each other until about halfway through.

Paper Valentine paints a very realistic representation of life and friendships after a death. There’s a strong adherence to realism and truthfulness in nature. Yovanoff infused the story with a message of morals and spiritual thoughts. There’s so much detail written, from the deaths to background stories, I never had a dull moment. There’s a paranormal element written in Paper Valentine, where Hannah can see and hear to Lillian, but in a very contemporary way. It’s interesting to see the two mix, and Yovanoff did it in a perfect way.

I was instantly thrown into city of Ludlow, into Hannah’s life, and I never wanted to leave. Paper Valentine relays that everyone has a story, and there’s something to be learned from every experience. Yovanoff wrote death in a very poetic and romanticized way. She doesn’t write it in a positive light, but she erases the harsh and ugly reality of it. Yovanoff brings strength in her characters and it stays consistent for the whole story.

I really enjoyed Paper Valentine. It had the right amount of joy and pain, and I was never afraid to learn the truth. I loved how the events took place. I enjoyed the pacing and writing style. It flowed so easily that I didn’t even realize I was almost finished with the book. The characters were great. Well rounded and added diversity to the story. No two characters were similar and I appreciated that. The MC had a lot of depth, sometimes happy and mostly this melancholy state on the verge of being morbid.

Notable Scene:

Lillian gave me an outraged look but didn’t say anything. She sat with her hands over the glass, but it didn’t really look like she was touching it at all anymore. Maybe a little, but it didn’t seem that way. I could have sworn I saw the glow of candlelight in the gap between her fingertips and the bottom of the glass.

I sat perfectly still, watching the board with goose bumps coming out on my arms.

The glass looped across the rows of letters, spelling out P-A-P-E-R. Then, without pausing, it circled its way back to H-E-A-R-T.

After that, the glass wouldn’t spell anything else. We tried for another half hour, but it was no good. It just sat in the middle of the board, motionless. Silent.

As soon as Lillian went home, I put the cordial glass back in the closet and threw the board in the Dumpster behind my house.

FTC Advisory: I purchased this copy of Paper Valentine.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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