Summary from GoodReads:
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.
When I first heard about Paper Valentine, I couldn’t contain my excitement. You all know that I am a huge ghost story fan, and the idea of Hannah’s best friend’s ghost haunting her – well, I knew I had to check this one out. When I was approved at Netgalley, I did a little happy dance. And let me say, this book definitely met my expecations!
Something that I love about YA literature is that there is often this blending of genres. Paper Valentine has so many aspects. It’s a ghost story, it’s a mystery, there is a little romance. But it is also about Hannah dealing with the death of her best friend, and it also talks a bit about the disease that Lillian died of. It sounds like a lot, but Brenn Yovanoff handles it so well.
Hannah, the protagonist, was such an interesting character. I could see myself in her in a lot of ways, and I think most readers could, too. She’s griefstricken by the death of Lillian, and sixth months later, she is still dealing with it. It was such a realistic look at how Lillian’s death affected Hannah. Hannah misses Lillian so much, but she is also furious with her. Again, so realistic and guinine.
I have to tell you guys – I’m kind of in love with Finny! Seriously, he is totally someone I would have been attracted to in high school despite the crazy hair. I guess you could say he is from the wrong side of the tracks, but he really is a nice guy. He’ll be there for you, you know?
So, now I’m going to talk about the ghost, Lillian. She isn’t really creepy. In fact, I wouldn’t say this book is scary or anything. There were a few times when I was a tiny bit creeped out, but for the most part, it isn’t scary at all. Anyway, Lillian is a really interesting character. We (the readers) are learning about Lillian, the girl who was Hannah’s best friend, and we are also learning about Lillian the ghost. She can be a real witch sometimes, but, we can really tell how much she did love Hannah. And we get to learn a little bit about why Hannah and Lillian were best friends.
Yovanoff also spent time developing the secondary characters, as well. I really loved Ariel, Hannah’s sister. She’s adorable, as is Pinky. Hannah’s friends are also really well developed. Even Angelie, who is not someone I would want as a friend, is a fully fleshed out character.
I would say Paper Valentine is more mystery than anything else. I thought it was a pretty good mystery, and I wasn’t entirely sure who the “bad guy” was until the end.
If you liked mysteries, definitely read Paper Valentine. I think those who enjoy the Deadly Cool series by Gemma Halliday would enjoy this, although they have differen’t tones.