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Wow! So much history I had no idea about. Sad but an amazing read.
Yes, this is an Oprah's Book Club selection--shut up, I still liked it. I read Slate's review before picking up the book, so the entire time I was reading it I had "Oprah, Hemingway, Oprah, Hemingway..." running through my head. I'm kind of a sucker for post-apocolyptic novels, so this one hooked me fairly quickly. That being said, I don't know if re-reading it would be worthwhile. More on this later.
This was my second book by Brenna Yovanoff: the first being her debut, The Replacement. I love how unique and original all of her books are and Paper Valentine definitely did not disappoint in that aspect. Paper Valentine did not completely live up to my expectations, but there were certain aspects that I really liked. One thing I can say is that Brenna's books are different from most everything else being released at the moment and it is refreshing to read something so completely off the beaten track. Hannah Wagnor lives in the city of Ludlow which is being plagued by all kinds of oddities from extreme heat to a serial killer on the loose. In addition, Hannah is being haunted by the ghost of her best friend. Hannah was a very interesting character. At first, I found myself annoyed with her, but, as the story progressed, she began to stand on her own and was a very strong and independent character. Hannah's best friend, Lillian, at first kind of creeped me out, but she did play a unique role in the story. I especially liked how all of Hannah's family were involved. I often wonder where people's parents are when certain things are happening to them, but we frequently saw Hannah's mother and stepfather and they were a constant presence in her life. Then there was Finny Boone. He has to be one of the most fascinating characters I have ever read about. He was someone that you could not judge before getting to know them and watching Hannah dig into his layers was one of the best aspects of the book. While I did enjoy the characters, the plot was what fell a little short for me. The idea of the "Valentine Killer" was extremely creepy and I was often on the edge of my seat, but the way everything came together seemed kind of random and left me with more questions than answers. It was interesting to see how Hannah started to unravel clues and her connection to everything, plus the murders were extremely frightening and just plain weird. In the beginning things moved a little slow, but about half way through the book I was hooked. Still, I was hoping for a different ending. All in all, Paper Valentine was a creative third novel by Brenna Yovanoff, with strong, memorable characters, but the ending left me disappointed. I have heard all kinds of mixed reviews about this book, so I recommend checking it out for yourself, because there have been just as many five star ratings as three. I really do love Yovanoff's writing style and how unique all of her books are, so I plan on reading her sophomore novel (The Space Between) soon. Overall: 3 out of 5 stars