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Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

14 Oct

Title: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publication Date: September 29, 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: Penguin Group

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary (from Barnes & Noble): 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 Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

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 walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Review: This is, by far, my FAVORITE Maureen Johnson book ever. It’s probably partly because the book is set in London and follows an American girl going to school there, so I can totally relate to that, but it was also an amazing story. There’s enough mystery and intrigue to keep you turning pages (far later than you intended to still be awake!), there just enough of a romance to make you slightly giddy and both the main and supporting characters are pretty kick ass.

I found myself getting super nostalgic in the first few chapters as Rory settled into school at Wexford. Most of reactions were the exact same ones I experienced as I settled into Newcastle. Including the being worried about finding the correct hair products in a new country, my hair is a pain to deal with! It was so easy to feel as if I was right there beside her as she navigated this new city and this new world. Through all of this Rory is an excellent narrator; she’s hardworking, funny, loyal, and adventurous, even if the circumstances absolutely terrify her.

Watching Rippermania and the panic spread across London was fascinating and you actually learn a lot about the original murders and the theories behind who committed them. While the citizens of London are being terrorized by someone copying Jack the Ripper’s murders, they don’t actually believe that Jack’s returned from the dead to commit them. Yet, that’s where the mystery is not as cut and dry as it would first appear. Hence the entrance of the “secret police” (the “Scotland Graveyard” if you will) and this is where things get interesting. I found myself flipping through pages as quickly as I could and the suspense of the story was absolutely killing me.

What kept this from being a five star review for me was that I felt that the romance felt slightly underdeveloped, yet I’m hoping that will be resolved in the next book. Being a series that does give her room to spread the romance out (and they are only teenagers) and let it grow a bit more naturally. The other thing that gave me pause was the lack of presence of her parents, they move across the country and they don’t once come to visit to see the school where their daughter is living? And when a murder happens right on campus and their daughter is a witness they are satisfied with just a phone call? That felt a bit far fetched, but then again I’m not sure I’d have loved to see the parents constantly poking their noses in either, so such is life.

Bottom line: Chockfull of interesting characters, intriguing and unexpected plot twists, and a little bit of history, The Name of the Star will keep you guessing and keep you reading straight through to the end. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next and I applaud Maureen Johnson’s first foray into the paranormal/fantasy realm.

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Posted by on 14 October, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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