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Grimes & Rowe Read a Book: Paper Valentine

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

c_papervalentineTitle: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Series: N/A
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: January 8, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Pages: 305
Source: Brian: Borrowed from Library, Shaunta:
Buy the Book: Paper Valentine 

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. (Via Amazon)

Brian: This time last year I didn’t even know who John Green was, so let’s just say I’ve come a long way in the world of Young Adult fiction. My bookshelf now is now filled with YA books, from the Rainbow Boys trilogy, to Shadow & Bone, to a copy of Looking for Alaska I bought just cuz, to at least eight titles that sport the Michael L. Printz award symbol that I know nothing about but can’t wait to pour through. And another thing I’m doing a lot more lately is checking Amazon for the newest and greatest in YA fiction. Since I’m writing YA books of my own and want to see what kinds of books are getting published out there, not just in the recent future, but right now, I thought I’d try to read more books that are super current, like that are just a few weeks old. My top pick for January 2013 was definitely Paper Valentine. I didn’t know anything about the author, but loved the synopsis and cover. When I found a copy on display in the New YA Fiction section at my local library, I snatched it up before another deserving fifteen-year-old girl could beat me to it, and Shaunta and I made it our Book of the Month for February! So what did I think of this, the third novel by acclaimed bestselling YA author Brenna Yovanoff? I enjoyed a lot of macabre elements to the set-up but ultimately wasn’t as pulled into the story as much as I would have liked to.

Shaunta: The Paper Valentine cover is absolutely beautiful, and I was taken in by the premise as well. I love a ghost story! My bookshelves are so packed with amazing YA on my TBR list, like Brian, that I’m almost reluctant to buy anything more until I get a handle on what I already have. But I wanted to read a 2013 book, and I’m glad we picked this one. I appreciated that the love story wasn’t the dominant story and that the love interest wasn’t the typical tall-dark-and-handsome type. I thought that the fact that Hannah’s friend, who became her ghost, died in a way that isn’t typical for ghost stories. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the way the friend died added a level of characterization to the novel that I thought was great.

Brian: Yovanoff is a beautiful writer and she set up the story extremely well. I have loved ghost stories my entire life, and a short story I wrote called Human, which I spend most of 2012 writing and workshopping and revising, is a similar tale of a human person befriending a ghost who lives in the same house. In this novel, Hannah definitely isn’t someone who’s scared by the ghost, Lillian, but who treats her as normal as her sister, her parents, her best friends at school. Yovanoff has a good handle on dialogue, and with building the characters, and with throwing us meaty twists and turns along the way. I just didn’t get wrapped up in the book like I was expecting to. There was almost not enough macabre touches, dark elements, scary moments, to keep me flipping through the pages; at times, this book simply read like a YA contemporary. But I was definitely intrigued enough by this book to seek out Yovanoff’s other two previous novels, The Space Between, and The Replacement (the latter of which sounds great!).

Shaunta: Mysteries are tough for me. I can’t handle the anticipation, and I end up reading the end. Once I know how the mystery is solved, the middle becomes irrelevant. I know that it’s bad that I read the back of books, but  I can’t help it. I actually read the last couple of pages before I even pick up a book to read. Usually it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the rest of the book (obviously, or I wouldn’t do it!) Mysteries are a different story. Now that I have that off my chest, I’ll just say that I really enjoyed Paper Valentines, even if I spoiled it for myself and I didn’t engage in it completely all the way through as much as I’d have liked.

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