- The news coverage. The news coverage and the way the murders are handled throughout the story felt very realistic. This helped give a kind of credibility to the narrator and made me buy into the story more.
- The sickness. As someone who has been afflicted with anorexia, I found the honesty with which Lillian's sickness was portrayed very impressive. The simultaneous feelings of powerlessness and complete control in particular were very well written. For anyone who has never been a victim of or had a loved one who was a victim of this sickness, this aspect of the novel gives a horrifyingly realistic window into the life of someone who has.
- Finny. I found Finny to be a particularly interesting character, probably one of my favorites in the story. The way his true character was revealed slowly allowed the reader to discover him in what felt like a very genuine fashion.
- The clues. I loved how Yovanoff sprinkled clues like breadcrumbs throughout the story, leading not only the reader but the characters to the same conclusion, only to turn right around and rip the rug right out from under everyone.
- The competing plot lines. This story has three main plots. 1) Whole flocks of birds falling dead throughout the town. 2) Lillian's sickness and her ghost. 3) The serial killer. Having more than one path to follow at any given time isn't a bad thing at all, it usually helps give the story depth. In the case of Paper Valentine however, it simply feels like Yovanoff had three very different stories in mind and instead of keeping the three ideas separate, she decided to take the best bits of each and cram them altogether into one novel. None of them feel particularly related (the birds are never explained at all). At times they even seem to compete with one another, leaving the narrative disjointed and confusing.
"Our whole lives, it was like we were always trying so hard to be perfect--for our families and our friends, for each other--when the funny thing was, we didn't have to. In the end, we were better than that."
I loved the serial killer plot line in this book. It was creepy, clever, and well-paced. The final reveal was shocking and had a great twist. Unfortunately, the presence of additional plot lines left the story feeling cluttered and disjointed, making the overall read a little less enjoyable.