Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Posted On 13 February 2013

Filed under Book Reviews
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Just finished reading Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff.  I thought this had an intriguing premise ‘Hannah’s best friend, Lillian, starved herself to death six months ago, and Hannah’s been haunted by her ever since.  But now Lilian’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?’

Okay, firstly, I will quite openly admit that I’m not the intended target audience for this book as it’s YA but I do read quite a few young adult books and usually find them quite entertaining.  That being said I only liked this one rather than loved.  I didn’t dislike it particularly but it had too many niggles for me as I went along.  Also, I think the write up on the jacket is a little misleading.  That being said I think the author has a good writing style, I think she manages to write the whole teenager aspect very well and the idea she has come up with is interesting.  It’s also a very quick and easy read, it never occurred to me to put the book down, as I wanted to know the outcome, and also I didn’t second guess the final reveal.  I just think there were too many things going on and so none of them felt fully developed.

There’s the murder element to the story.  A serial killer who is targeting young girls from the area and all the resulting paranoia of the neighbourhood.  We have the development of a teenage romance involving Hannah and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks.  On top of that we have the ghost story element and then we’re also looking into some fairly serious issues such as anorexia, school bullying, social acceptance.  Maybe these things could have worked together somehow but for me they never quite reached their full potential.

I didn’t really get a feeling of the sense of stress or fear that I think would be fairly evident if a serial killer was walking round the neighbourhood and it certainly didn’t make some of the people in the story act any more sensibly.  The romance – well, again, not enough emotion going on there.  It just suddenly appeared that Hannah and Finny liked each other, a lot, or at least we were told they did.  The ghost story element wasn’t really developed – Lily just appeared to be haunting Hannah for no apparent reason.  She certainly didn’t seem to have an urgent task for her and to be honest she wasn’t a great deal of help when the chips were down.  Not to mention that her friends and family must have thought she was losing the plot.  She was constantly looking over at something that wasn’t there and talking to herself alone in her room!  On the topic of eating disorders – well, I never really understood what happened to Hannah.  And, I couldn’t really understand why even in the strange situation they found themselves they at least didn’t finally discuss it.  Lily was like the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about.

Criticisms aside I suppose as this is YA you have to allow some leeway in terms of content.  It’s difficult to write things without going overboard and then finding your work is no longer suitable for the market you intended.  Just personally I was looking for more scary, or more emotional, or more creepy.

However, not everybody want’s creepy and scary so if you’re looking for something a little less chilling but still enjoy a bit of a paranormal mystery then this could be for you.



7 Responses to “Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff”

  1. TBM

    Sounds like a lot going on in this one. Sometimes that can work, and sometimes not. At least you liked it, but not loved it. Starving oneself to death sounds painful.

    • lynnsbooks

      I don’t mind a lot going on but it felt as though each issue was only briefly touched upon which was a shame. Like I said, I think YA sometimes restricts what the author can do so maybe this was where the constraint lay. I just felt like I kept getting a rise and reading on, but then, instead of getting a brilliant rush down hill it fell flat. There was no downhill rush! Bit of a shame for me personally because I wanted this one to be more.
      Lynn 😀

  2. mmn37"Auntie"

    I think I can comment again…………………


  3. mmn37"Auntie"

    -clapping hands-

    I CAN comment again!!! -grin-

    Some way, I managed to *into* my Gravatar settings, and ………….. WooT! I can comment. And, I have a coooooooool apple gravatar.


    • lynnsbooks

      *clapping hands* as well.
      That apple is pretty cool.
      Lynn 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      BTW, now it’s my turn to be perplexed – I can’t get onto your blog any more! It says ‘file no longer there’ have you changed address. Please send me the link if you have so I can check out your pics. Not stopped over since (I think) Christmas!
      Lynn 😀

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