The book had such a creepy, dangerous atmosphere to it. The tone and writing kept me enthralled throughout. There was a menace running around Ludlow killing innocent girls, and I couldn't wait for Hannah to solve the mystery. Paper Valentine was addictive, and I sped through the pages.
What really got me, though, were the well-drawn characters: Hannah, Finny Boone, Lillian, Ariel and Pinky, Angelie, Hannah's protective mother. By the end of the book, I knew them all.
I could see each of them in my head. I saw Hannah in her beautiful, crafty dresses that hid a complex girl with complex problems--not the least of which is a dead best friend/ghost who follows her around, offering snarky remarks. Lillian, the ghost BFF, was one of my favorite parts. She was Hannah's friend and yet…she was also a manipulative mean girl. It was interesting how likable and unlikable she could be. Another complex character--which made her all the more real.
And if you want a hero with real problems and hang-ups and real heart, let me introduce you to Finny Boone J.
I can't believe I've never read anything by Yovanoff before. She introduced me to a new type of love interest. Before I go on about how much I loved Finny, let me say that I know there've been delinquents in YA books. I know there have been bad boys with hearts of gold. But Yovanoff broke the mold with this one.
Here's why: Finny Boone--besides having an AWESOME name--was the exact opposite of what we girls are supposed to want.
His looks are big and thuggish, kinda scary. He almost always wears a threadbare white tank and has do-it-yourself peroxide blond hair. He's missing a pinky finger on one hand. He steals lighters from the gas station. He's in the "slow classes." By all appearances, he's big, mean, and stupid.
But here's the thing: Finny Boone is a contradiction. When Hannah's bracelet is stolen by one of his friends, Finny gets it back for her. When Hannah's having a bad day, he grabs the guy teasing her by the neck and tells him to back off. When Hannah scrapes her knee, Finny picks out the glass and cleans the wound himself. He's thoughtful, kind, and protective. Finny Boone is actually everything a girl could want.
Several times in the book, other characters call him names like "retard," one even openly accuses him of being the serial killer. Lillian is constantly warning Hannah off, but, thankfully, she doesn't listen. You've got to love a main character who can think for herself.
I'd recommend this book for sure and not just b/c of Hannah or Finny. (But seriously, you should read it just for him) I've included the summary below. If you want a heart-pounding mystery with creepy clues, a heroine with a spine of steel, and a hero who's as unique as his name, read Paper Valentine.
Jacket summary: 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.
Hanna's best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can it when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders linked only by a paper valentine? Hannah can hardly begin 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.