Feb 17, 13
Read on February 17, 2013
It's July and Hannah's town of Ludlow is experiencing a terrible heat wave and a grotesque crime wave... someone has been murdering young girls at and alarming rate, despite the plea of officials for everyone to stay safely away from the park at night. Hannah finds herself shuttling her younger sister and her friend to and from summer school in the melting heat, all while dealing with the ghost of her best friend, who died of anorexia six months ago.
The first few pages of Paper Valentine really drew me in. Not only were they sufficiently creepy to hold my attention, but I could tell Hannah was a character who was going to be very involved with the murders, one way or another. Sure enough, Hannah, who works at a photo shop where the police develop their crime scene photos, becomes amateur sleuth with the help of her sadly deceased friend Lillian.
Lillian's a kick. It was sad to read about her experience with her eating disorder and even though she wasn't the softest character ever, there was something spunky about her that made me like her. She was a good person who deserved better and I was happy to see what happened to her at the end of the novel.
Meanwhile, with all the murdering and haunting going on, Hannah somehow still manages to find sometime for a little romance, even if it is with bad-boy Finny, who actually turned out to be a genuinely likeable character.
Lillian and Finny... so far my review sounds pretty fluffy, but don't doubt for a minute that Paper Valentine isn't creeptacular. There's something about the tone of the novel, the way it was set in hundred degree weather, the way bodies kept turning up immediately followed by those little memorials, that made the whole thing feel foreboding. I practically could hear the sound of the cicadas humming in the heat. Of course, the murderer is never who we think it is and those last three chapters were on the edge of your seat, hold your breath crazy.
Four stars! That's some "What I did this summer," essay Hannah will be able to write when she goes back to school in the fall. The only complaint I have was the book felt too short; not rushed, but short. I would have liked to have spent more time with Hannah.