Brenna Yovanoff is the best selling author of The Replacement, a book your YA Fiction Examiner thoroughly enjoyed. Yovanoff’s latest novel, Paper Valentine, is not as exciting but still worth a look.
Six months ago, Hannah Wagner lost her best friend, Lillian. Lillian died from complications from an eating disorder, but other girls are being murdered all over town. Girls that both teenage Hannah and her 12-year-old sister, Ariel, know.
Hannah soon starts seeing apparitions of the dead girls and, later, even finding the bodies. The police suspect Finny Boone, a juvenile delinquent with a surprise soft side-and a budding romance with Hannah. Now, with Lillian's pushing, Hannah sets to find the killer before he strikes again.
The strength of The Replacement was setting and suspense. In Paper Valentine, it's character. Hannah's personal journey is one of the most compelling your YA Fiction Examiner has seen in awhile. She struggles not only with Lillian's death (and subsequent reappearance nobody else knows about) but the circumstances surrounding it. She struggles to protect her younger sister and to salvage her crumbling relationship with her surviving friends. And she struggles with her attraction to Finny, a refreshingly unconventional love interest who has his issues but also his redeeming qualities.
But for some reason, Paper Valentine is missing the spark. It's tough to specify exactly what's wrong, but the narrative isn't as thrilling as it could be. Perhaps the stakes are not high enough, either personal or plot wise, but it fails to excite as much as it could have.
Still, Paper Valentine is certainly not a bad book. If you like supernatural thrillers, mysteries, or even fascinating, complex characters, you should pick it up. And be sure to check out Yovanoff's other books, The Replacement and The Space Between.
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