Description (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.
I was so happy that Paper Valentine wasn’t just another pretty face (cover). Yes, the cover art is gorgeous, but I also found the story and characters contained within to be equally as enticing. There are multiple themes and storylines happening at once, offering readers a complex, but never over-complicated, story centered around the depressed and lonely Hannah.
Hannah isn’t like other girls. Her best friend, Lillian, has recently died of complications of anorexia. That doesn’t mean that she’s gone, though. Lillian hovers around Hannah, both comforting and tormenting her. At times, Hannah just wants Lillian to leave. At others, she can’t imagine life without her constant presence. Hannah’s also struggling with her attraction to bad boy Finny Boone, a large, tough looking classmate missing a finger, who turns out to be surprisingly tender.
At the heart of this story, though, are murders. Yes, this is a murder mystery. Young girls are turning up dead in their town. Since the shop where Hannah works processes the crime-lab photograph, Hannah sees that the murders have a pattern of knickknacks and paper valentines left with the bodies. And I totally didn’t guess who the killer was.
What I love about this book is that Yovanoff isn’t afraid of letting things get creepy. There’s an awesome Ouija board scene, and Hannah begins to descend down into her own dark psyche in order to help solve the murders.
Paper Valentine‘s a must-read for fans of young adult darkness and mystery. The insight into Lillian’s anorexia and the dynamics of the mean-girl clique, as well as how people treat Finny Boone, will get your interest, but the murders will spurn you to keep reading to the dark end.