Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine

by Brenna Yovanoff


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595145994
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/08/2013
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Brenna Yovanoff was raised in a barn, a tent, and a tepee, and was homeschooled until high school. She spent her formative years in Arkansas, in a town heavily populated by snakes, where sometimes they would drop turkeys out of the sky. When she was five, she moved to Colorado, where it snows on a regular basis but never snows turkeys. Her short fiction has appeared in Chiaroscuro and Strange Horizons. She holds an MFA in fiction from Colorado State University and is the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between. She currently lives in Denver with her husband. Visit her online at

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

An NPR Best Book of 2013

A Boston Globe Best Book for Young Adults of 2013

A YALSA Best Book for Young Readers of 2014

A 2014 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers

A 2014 Booklist Pick for Best Fiction for Young Readers

Customer Reviews

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Paper Valentine 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Owlmanafanatic16 More than 1 year ago
A surprizingly amazing book. Paper Valentine is a mixture of contemporary murder mystery and paranormal. Which is my favorite combination. Paper Valentine Takes place in July In the town Ludlow. Hannah is depressed after the death of her best friend Lillian. I reallly sympathized with Hannah because losing your best friend is like losing a family member. Hannah is trying to move on but it isn't working. Mainly due to the fact that Lillian is haunting Hannah. Which is both awesome yet creepy. The reason why Lillian is haunting Hannah is because Ludlow is plagued by murders. All the victims were young girls and around the bodies are surrounded by cheap toys and paper valentines. Which is something you dont see in most mystery murder/paranormal novels. That is what really pulled me in the novel. The writing style is beautiful and not like most writters. I feel as if though im reading a nonfiction novel instead of a fiction novel. The Yovanoff described the areas of the novel are realistic. I could see, hear, feel, taste and smell the locations (Yeah... i hane no idea how i can taste a location but i do). Paper Valentine is a well written novel that will captivate readers who are fans of paranormal or murder mysteries or both. I highly recommend you read Paper Valentine. Espscially since Valentine's day is coming up. What better way to enjoy a day of love while reading a paranormal/murder murder that involves Valentine's. just not in the romantic way. Enjoy
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
I’m a huge fan of author Brenna Yovanoff, I think that I’ve made that pretty clear in my past reviews of her works.  She never ceases to surprise me and all of her stories leave me shocked, at a loss for words and absolutely dying for the next thing that she’ll come up with. Every single novel she writes is better than the last whether it be the Replacement or The Space Between, her latest installment Paper Valentine goes in a whole other direction from her previous novels, where those novels focus on main characters that aren’t entirely human. Paper Valentine takes place in a (mostly) normal universe in which our human main character Hannah can see the ghost of her dead best friend. It isn’t until the city of Ludlow is attacked by the mysterious Valentine Killer that random girls are found murdered in the park, but that isn’t what’s scaring Hannah the fact that she can see their ghosts is. Hannah takes it to herself to find out which character it is that murdered these girls who she used to know. While attempting to find out the identity of the killer who leaves behind valentine doilies at the murder sight, she begins to fall for the misunderstood Finny Boone who surprises Hannah with how kind he really is beneath the surface. In Paper Valentine Hannah risks everything to find out who the Valentine Killer is before he finds her. The first thing that I think really got me with Paper Valentine was Hannah’s ability to see the dead, it screamed Ghost Whisperer especially when she began  to use it as a way to catch the killer. I mean, from the opening chapter, I assumed that maybe there wasn’t a paranormal element to the novel (and that would have disappointed me considering how I love how Yovanoff adds the supernatural or the paranormal to all her stories). It wasn’t until we get introduced to her best friend Lillian, and then find out that she died months ago, that we figure out that Hannah isn’t your normal teenage girl. The one consistency that can be found in Paper Valentine compared to Yovanoff’s past works, is that much like in her other works, Hannah is an underdog. She’s an outcast within her group of friends and constantly mentions how she used to want to be just like Lillian (and a few times in the novel, she acts out the way her rebellious friend Lillian used to). When it came to the killings in the novel, and the descriptions used to describe the crime scene photos, I actually found my stomach getting pretty queasy and that’s a good thing since sometimes the way authors describe the dead just seem really flat and dull. Since these are the murders commit by a serial killer, I was pretty pleased with just how sickening Yovanoff managed to make the crime scenes, especially since there are valentine themed décor at the murder sites. The way Yovanoff constantly used adjectives to make every single chapter of the novel seem foreboding and dark, which I loved since a novel about serial killers shouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows (unless it’s maybe from the killer’s point of view). Near the end of the novel we finally find out just which character is the one that has been hunting down the girls in Ludlow, I’ll admit that I didn’t see it coming and that I expected a different character entirely. However, I felt that the story mostly focused on the relationship between Finny and Hannah with the addition of Hannah talking to dead people, I personally felt that when it came to the identity of the killer it all happened a bit too quickly. During the big climatic scene where Hannah and the killer face off, I’ll admit that I was only slightly disappointed and that even still, it felt just a bit too rushed. But nonetheless, I still enjoyed it. I would recommend Paper Valentine to fans of Brenna Yovanoff’s previous works, fans of the YA paranormal scene as well as readers who would like a story that has the perfect blend of murder and romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first fell for Yovanoff ' s writing when I fell for Mackie, the oddly wonderful changeling boy creation at the center of The Replacement. It read like a surreally Gothic Wonderland story, but full of dark creatures with smiles as sharp as knives. I was hooked. So how I missed the several books between then and now, I do not know. But having read her newest title, Places No One Knows, and rediscovering her deft touch with creating damaged characters with the softest hearts, I went looking and found this gem. At its heart, Paper Valentines is a mystery, its engine the overwhelming grief and guilt felt by Hannah, the female lead in the aftermath of her best friend's slow death by anorexia. Is she losing her mind because she is the only one who can see Lillian ' s ghost...or is she a medium, open to the buzzing voices of other dead girls suddenly popping up all over town? Why did Lillian, the most beautiful queen of the popular group, hide her self doubt and hatred, controlling her self-loathing by counting every crumb and calorie? Why won't she leave Hannah alone...and why is she, even after death, still obsessed with the school girls being murdered in town, left posed and surrounded by trinkets left by a psychopath? And why doesn't she approve of Hannah ' s sudden involvement with Finny, the hulking loner they've known since grade school? I loved everything about this book, the oppressive summer heat, the mysterious avian disease that is littering the streets with dead birds, the progressively growing fear and suspicion of the town folk as the death count of innocent girls rises. And underlying the mystery is the delicacy of the feeling between Hannah and Finny, something that has seemingly always been there, but wasn't allowed to bloom under Lillian ' s regime. I only wish the story could have gone on longer which is the best compliment a reader can pay an author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book and if you liked this read the replacements
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Ludlow is in the midst of a heatwave that refuses to break. The thermometer is staying in the hundreds. Birds are dying. And Ludlow seems to be at a breaking point. Hanna Wagner might be at a similar breaking point. Really, Hannah wants nothing more than to keep pretending she is the shiny, happy girl she used to be. She wants to go back to living the shiny, happy life everyone remembers her having. But it's hard to pretend to be perfect and untouchable when her best friend, Lillian, died six months ago and has been haunting her ever since. It's even harder when all Hannah really wants to do is think about Finny Boone and his expansive shoulders and sudden but surprising moments of kindness. All of that pretending to be normal becomes nearly impossible when a girl is found murdered and Lillian's ghost insists that Hannah should find out more about the dead girl and the investigation. Soon Hannah realizes that she and Lillian may know more about the so-called Valentine Killer than either girl realized. Drawn into complicated dealings with ghosts, killers, and the enigmatic Finny Boone, Hannah begins to understand that nothing about dying--or living--is as straightforward as she once thought in Paper Valentine (2013) by Brenna Yovanoff. Equal parts mystery and ghost story, Paper Valentine is a gripping, unexpected read. Yovanoff expertly weaves the suspense and tension of a mystery into Hannah's subtler story of grieving (and being haunted) and a summer that has the potential to change everything even before the murder. Hannah is a vivid, lovable heroine. She is handy, artsy, fashionable, has a healthy home life and is generally fantastic. A proverbial lady-in-waiting without her queen, Hannah is adrift in a world she may not even like anymore. This novelis as much a story of her growth throughout the summer as it is a mystery or a ghost story.Populated with a vibrant ensemble cast and evocative settings, Paper Valentine is an excellent story of enduring friendship and suspense (and it has a beautiful cover to boot--this one is definitely the full package.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
Paper Valentine is a lovely clean, yet refreshing, relaxing and thrilling read. Hanna, the main character, still stuck in the sadness and horror of Lillian's self-destructive illness and death, is trying to enjoy a normal summer with her and Lillian's old group of friends. While Hanna still has Lillian's ghost with her, this isn't working out very well and the friendship is kind of forced and artificial. Lillian, however, is determined to help Hanna solve the string of murders committed in their town.  At the beginning of the book I thought Hanna didn't have the strength of character I like to see in a young adult female lead. This changes as Hanna is forced into dangerous situations and has to make difficult choices.  Lillian, with her fascination for the horrific and the macabre, helps Hanna to remain focused on the murders. Her judgment is, unfortunately, not always as sound when it comes to judging the characters of some of the boys in Hanna's life. Although comfortably paced, the story moves along in such a way that it became difficult to put the book down. If there are any lengthy, dull moments in the earlier part of Paper Valentine, the extremely suspenseful, action packed end certainly makes up for that. For those who are afraid of ghosts and hauntings, this book will hold an extra thrill.  If I had teenage children, Paper Valentine is the kind of book I would gladly advise them to read. Not only is this captivating paranormal murder mystery a suspenseful and thrilling read, it is also about growing up, personal growth and moving on. The gentle, heartwarming romance in this book just makes the story that much richer. I happily recommend Paper Valentine as a tale filled with excellent prose, lots of excitement, and a healthy dose of depth and wisdom. (Ellen Fritz)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My cousin read this book first and told me it was good so I gave it a try and it was amazing. One of my favorite books of all time
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
Lillian is a selfish, nagging ghost always goading Hannah for everything; she is essential of course to the story but I don't like her, to bad you can't punch a ghost in the face because if Hannah could have and did I would have cheered for her. I was surprised a bit about who the killer turned out to be but he was on my list of suspects. The last few chapters are extremely well written and I found them to be the best part of the story. The story reiterates that friendship never dies even if one of those friends happens to be dead.  I would recommend this to anyone that loves YA mystery/supernatural books. If your looking for a great read with ghosts and a killer then you should read Paper Valentine.
SerendipityReviews More than 1 year ago
I literally just finished this book and – wow! I haven’t read this good of a mystery in quite some time. You’ll never guess who the Valentine Killer is, oh you might suspect that person (I did), but if you’re like me, you’ll suspect everyone and some more than others.  The novel follows Hannah, who’s friend Lillian died because of anorexia nervosa (she starved herself to death). But after Lillian’s death, she wasn’t really gone. Hannah still had her friend; in the form of a ghost. When the murders start happening, Lillian urges Hannah to look into it. Her relative works at a photo store and does the prints for the police. When the girls discover there is a paper heart, a valentine at the crime scene they are brought back to the past. A girl had been murdered, but there was never any details about a paper heart, but the girls found out using a spirit board while Lillian was still alive. Hannah thought Lillian was playing with her when she spelled out paper heart, but now, it’s looking like these murders might be connected.  As the murders continue, Hannah finds herself drawn to the bad boy Finny who steals lighters from the local liquor store. He helps her up when she falls down, cleans out her scraped knee, and carefully touches and kisses her. Lillian is raving mad over her falling for such a ‘loser’. Not only that, but Hannah only sees other ghosts – the victims – when she is with Finny. Is Finny the Valentine Killer? Or maybe it’s the beat cops that only deliver photos and do other beat jobs for the task force? Or maybe its Finny’s friend who stole Hannah’s bracelet? Or Hannah’s tough stepdad? Oh, everyone seems like a possibility. I could go on and on of who I suspected and why. But when the voices grow too strong for Hannah, she beings piecing together the clues and communing with spirits other than Lillian. She feels pressured to help find the killer and at the same time appear happy and normal to the outside world.  I give this book five stars; it totally deserved it. There is some cussing and violence (obviously), but there’s nothing overly mature. It’s very well written and the character, Hannah, is completely relatable. The way she describes things it’s kind of like, hey she feels and thinks like I do! I highly recommend this read, especially if you love murder mysteries 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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EverAfterEsther More than 1 year ago
Paper Valentine is the book that has absolutely convinced me that Brenna Yovanoff is one of my new favourite authors. She has such a way with words, and you just know she's going to be awesome with such a fabulous first name (hehe)! She has this rare talent to capture so much ambience with her words - from creepy, to ethereal, to utterly romantic. And I appreciate that she puts so much thought into her stories, giving them plenty of layers to peel back. Reasons to Read:  1. Creepy plot (complete with ghosts): I like some of my books to be creepy, and creepy is one thing that Brenna writes so well. I was impressed with how much of the story was grounded in reality; girls going missing and turning up dead? That's real life and it is horrifying. A little bit of a paranormal twist, enhances the creepiness factor rather than detracting from it. 2. Struggling with grief: One of my favourite aspects of Paper Valentine was how Hannah struggles with Lillian's death. She becomes increasingly aware of how complicated and messy their friendship was, and she's honest with herself about that. She struggles to balance the good memories with the bad ones, and trying to reconcile the little girl she once knew with the hurting teen her friend was at her death. This pain is very honest and real, and I appreciate how complex Brenna made their friendship and Hannah's grief. 3. Complicated characters: Each character has their own flaws, their own struggles, and yet manage to stand out on their own as independent and life-like characters. I like how well this was done with Hannah and Lillian, as well as additional secondary characters like Finny and Hannah's sister. They can remind you so much of people you know, in both good and bad ways, and its a strength for the story.  I simply adore Brenna's writing, because there really is something hauntingly poetic about it. I loved following along with the mystery, although I was admittedly a bit disappointed with the big reveal. I like a lot of build up in my mystery plots, but they really need to deliver at the end too. It wasn't enough to ruin the story for me, but it was a bit of a let down by the end. I recognize, however, that the main purpose of the story isn't so much about who the killer is or why he's killing girls as much as it is about relationships and grief.  I highly recommend this read for anyone looking for something a bit different from the standard YA fare. I like that we're seeing more mysteries and thrillers, especially when they're as well done as Paper Valentine. ARC received from Penguin Canada for my honest review; no other compensation was received. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dazzlamb More than 1 year ago
Murder victims with a sweet valentine near their bodies are found . Girls only. Strewn around the dead girls, the police finds small toys and cute little items that have an infantile and playful appeal. But what message does the murderer who brutally slays his victims want to deliver? PAPER VALENTINE is set in small town Ludlow. And exactly that idyll and the contrast created by the cold-hearted homicides are what drew me into the story. It's the dichotomy between knowing everyone in this town and yet knowing that you aren't safe anymore, that let me find great pleasure in reading Brenna Yovanoff's newest novel. Clever contradictions are one of Brenna's strongest writing accomplishments in PAPER VALENTINE. Our protagonist, Hannah, is anything but fake. Her melancholic and considered being made me appreciate her as our narrator and inofficial crime investigator. Then a considerable part of the story’s focus lies on Hannah’s friendship with her best friend Lillian, a ghost. She died six months ago and has come back to haunt Hannah. She and a few other ghostly occurrences add a touch of paranormalcy to the story. There are longer sequences filled with conversations between Hannah and Lillian about their past, friendship, finding the killer and the reason that lead to Lillian's death. Somehow these talks didn't even feel helpful to me and Lillian never like a character who belonged to the story. Like an interference factor, a ghost that couldn't move on, but was highly encouraged to. PAPER VALENTINE has also a love story to present. Unexpected, but appreciated. Look forward to meet interesting character Finny Boone. The story is supported by flashbacks including Lillian and also Finny, the boy Hannah’s slowly falling for, which throw a new light on present interactions with them both. Brenna Yovanoff's characters are flawed, show self-doubts and are therefore even more believable and appealing. But in the crime case at hand the lines blur and you don’t know who to trust anymore, everyone appears guilty and dangerous. It’s a creepily nice touch that Brenna Yovanoff plays with the motif of a valentine, originally used to show someone your love, here its meaning pervertedly distorted and pinned to the murderers newest conquests. The mixed in occult elements were according to my taste and the case had a really great creep potential. I just wish Brenna Yovanoff had adopted a more insane and horrific course. In the end some of the built-up tension simply evaporated. We are presented with a culprit and an explanation as to why those girls were murdered, but it somehow left me a tad disappointed. There were just too many unanswered questions. THE VERDICT 3,5/5 **** PAPER VALENTINE – A chilling & ghostly murder mystery. Be careful whose valentine you want to be! A strong and direct plunge into the story leads to a thrilling murder mystery with paranormal occurrences, romantic encounters and quiet moments of insights and self-evaluations. The solution to the gruesome crimes and ending of Hannah’s personal story though appeared a tad vague and weak in regard to the expectations the abstract of PAPER VALENTINE raised in me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
--Kt-- More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Brenna Yovanoff. This is her third book, and her writing is still fantastic. She has a very differnt voice, somewhat dark and lurking, that makes her writings different from all of the other books out there. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel these days there arent that many mystery novels for teens anymore. I thought this book was good in the sense of finding the murderer. The main girl with a help from her ghost best friend, who died several months before, to find who is responsible of the deaths of four girls in her town.  If you like CSI, i would recommend this book. It is crime scene exciting, yet with a bit of paranormal with ghosts. The ending was a twist The only part i didnt like was the beginning was a bit slow, unclear of her best friend's death and why they didnt focus of her question or getting more dept of their friendship.   I def. recommend this book, especially if you want a mystery book. 
JAMQueen More than 1 year ago
Brenna Yovanoff's Best Novel Yet! I've read all of Brenna's novels and compilations of short stories. She's always been my kind of author who writes novels that aren't what everyone else is writing. Her characters are strangely unique - often a little bit disturbed. Paper Valentines is (in my opinion) Brenna's best novel yet. It combines ghosts with the search for a killer. The writing is even more poetic than usual. The themes of ghosts, murder and the terrible abyss that is a terminal eating disorder make this a novel for all types of young adult readers. I can't wait to see what Ms. Yovanoff comes up with next.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
What stood out for me the most about this book was the writing. It was very well done. The sights, the smells, and the general feeling throughout the plot was certainly felt. I loved the mood and atmosphere that was set for this story. The whole mystery mixed with some paranormal characteristics was good although I was wrong as to how Lillian died. I certainly wasn’t expecting what she died from. But then, that would be pretty typical right? The story does sort of try to not become a typical plot you would find in most of these types of novels although when it came to the end it basically boiled down to an ending that you would have expected - but as I have mentioned earlier, what stood out for me was the writing style of the book. Although it may have left you wanting more out of the plot, you can’t dismiss the unique writing style and how well done it was. The ending had a mini twist, but it offered closure and closed all the loose ends nicely. As for Hannah as a character, I didn’t dislike her or like her. It certainly did feel that Lillian and Hannah were two halves of one person and one without the other would be just an empty shell. You certainly did feel sorry for Lillian and what she went through. As for the romance factor in the story. It was all right. Certainly, it’s typical (bad boy and good girl couple) but they seemed to be fit for each other quite nicely. Although I thought book was pretty decent, it left me wanting for something more. Also, the plot was a bit slow to go through and the pace could have been a bit quicker. Otherwise it’s a decent read and worth a try at least once, just to get the feel of Yovanoff’s writing style, which was excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
I haven't read that many ghost books, so starting Paper Valentine was a new adventure for me. Hannah, is being haunted by her best friend Lillian who dies six months ago. When I say haunted, it's not in a bad way, it's just that Lillian's ghost is always there with her. They have conversations, and nothing bad really happens. This summer, there has been a string of murders in the city of Ludlow. Lillian, being the crazy person, or shall I say ghost, she is, convinced Hannah to investigate the murders. Hannah does start getting obsessed with trying to find out who the murderer is. Also, she can't seem to stay away from the so called bad boy, Finny Boone.  I can understand why I read so many mixed reviews for Paper Valentine. It might be a bit different than your typical young adult books, but I found myself enjoying it. I'm a big fan of mystery books, and as long as they aren't predictable, I'll enjoy them. Hannah is a bit of a weird character. She dresses up in there weird bright dresses that have flowers and chains and other stuff stitched to them. I don't think I can say much about the characters in this book, because I really couldn't connect to them. The characters felt vague, and they were just introduced as they were at the moment. I didn't know much about Finny Boone, and the romance between him and Hannah wasn't that clear either. I assume that's what most people didn't like in the book, but for me, I wasn't bothered by it. For me, Paper Valentine felt like a fast, light read. I liked that it had a "normal, everyday" feel to it. I never suspected the murder, and all my guess turned out to be wrong, so I was happy about that. Despite not feeling connected to the characters, I really liked how Lillian and Hannah's relationship developed.  The ending was good, and all I can say is that I enjoyed reading this book. If you're a fan of mysteries, give this one a try!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago