Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London #1
Genre: YA, mystery, paranormal
Published on September 29, 2011
Published by Putnam
Pages: 372
Read From: 12.2.11 - 12.1.11

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city - gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888. 

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, what is he planning to do about her?


think I liked this book, but I confess that I am still making my mind up about that. It was certainly interesting, and I cannot say that I disliked it. And while the "twist" did not come as a surprise to me, it was still very strange and not quite what I would have anticipated if I hadn't tuned in to all of the little hints within the book.

As a heroine and the narrator, Rory isn't the most annoying teenage girl an author has written. For the most part, she was genuinely funny and fairly level-headed. Her reaction to discovering her unique "powers" was properly realistic - who wouldn't freak out?! - but not over the top. And even more amazing, Rory's boyfriend is actually tolerable! And also amazing, the Author blessedly and wonderfully skips any details pertaining to when the two make out, and I can't think her enough for that.

The story itself is, as I said, strange. But very original, and for that reason, I do believe I actually liked it. The threat of a "new" Jack the Ripper on the loose lends a terrifying and thrilling quality to what would be just a seemingly normal murder mystery, and any "fan" of the Ripper mystery will find it fascinating - in a macabre sense, of course. The violent content is not detailed, but the Author does an effective job of painting gristly imagery nonetheless, which may be disturbing to some Readers. And as I said, while I figured out the "twist" fairly early, and I was ready to be disappointed with the unoriginality of it, I wasn't. Maureen Johnson manages to pull a totally new direction for it.

As a series, I don't know how Shades of London will do, but The Name of the Star was definitely a success. I was engaged from page one all the way to the end.

Others in the Shades of London Series:
1)The Name of the Star
2)The Madness Underneath

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