Early 5bat! Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

January 3, 2013 Review 2

*This title will be released on January 8, 2013*

Paper Valentine

by Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: Paranormal YA |
Excerpt: No | Book Trailer: No
Reviewed by: Abigail | Source: ARC Swap

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill (January 8, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1595145990
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595145994


Near Perfect – Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

Sexual Content



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.


I think I contacted half a dozen people at Razorbill/Penguin Teen trying to get a review copy of PAPER VALENTINE.  Not one person responded and I got denied on both Netgalley and Edelweiss.  Thank goodness for the lovely members of ARC Swap for providing me with a copy or I might have missed this magnificently, hauntingly, wonderful book.

I first read Brenna Yovanoff in last year’s THE SPACE BETWEEN (which I reviewed for Tor.com).  Her writing is arresting and–at times–uncomfortably immersive.  It’s as if Brenna cracks open her characters skulls and lets all the messy and heartbreaking parts spill onto the pages.  In PAPER VALENTINE, that same raw and naked emotion drips across every scene.  As in THE SPACE BETWEEN, we meet a character whose life has been battered by grief.  Hannah had to watch her vibrant, glittery best friend wither away and die–only she never ended up leaving Hannah.  Lillian is like a super pissed off Jiminy Cricket, constantly telling Hannah what to do and disparaging the choices she makes.  It would be funny if their relationship–both before and after Lillian’s death–wasn’t so tragic.

No one knows that Hannah still sees Lillian, not her overly protective mother, her boisterous and outgoing little sister, or her trio of Heathers-like friends.  Certainly not the criminally inclined Finny who tormented her as a child.  In the months since Lillian’s death, Hannah has tried to keep a smile on her face even as her friends become less friendly, Finny becomes more confusing and surprisingly tender, and girls start dying in gruesome ways.

There are so many achingly realistic relationships portrayed here.  The most compelling is the relationship between Hannah and Lillian.  It’s laced with anger and bitterness and a love so strong that it defies even the grave.  The relationship that creeps up between Finny and Hannah is just as powerful, just as alluring, but for different reasons.  Finny isn’t an obvious hero or love interest.  But like all good characters, he’s got layers upon layers.  And as Brenna peeled back one painful layer at a time, my heart could barely contain him.

PAPER VALENTINE is part Heathers, part Scream, and part Judy Blume.  I couldn’t think about anything else for hours after reading it.  The story will hook you, the writing will transport you, and the characters will forever reside in your heart.  Whatever Brenna Yovanoff writes next–and I mean whatever–I will be ready to start bombarding Razorbill with requests again.



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2 Responses to “Early 5bat! Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff”

  1. Keri

    If you can’t get approved for an ARC who could?! I wonder if they know how many people follow your reviews.

    • Abigail

      This is the most trouble I ever had trying to get a review copy…it was strange. I checked with a few other bloggers who have similar or larger followings and they had no luck either. I’m just glad I was able to read it because it gave me chills…the good kind.