Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (September 27, 2011)
Source:  My Choice

From GoodReads:

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.
I expected to enjoy Maureen Johnson's newest book. She's been a favorite of mine for awhile now, and I love her style of writing and storytelling. What I didn't expect was exactly how much I truly enjoyed The Name of the Star, the first book in her new Shades of London series. Rory, my new favorite YA heroine, has the same spunk and sparkle you read if you follow "MJ" on twitter -- she's a little sassy, a little curious and loyal to those in her circle.
Rory lands in London just as a supposed new Jack the Ripper begins recreating the original Ripper's crimes. While there is a little blood and gore, the Ripper murders are not the true focus of this captivating and heart-felt book. Instead, they serve as a backdrop for Rory and the strange things happening around her. The reader knows pretty early that there is something strange going on in the streets of London. It's not just the murders that are creepy, but there is something happening around Rory that she doesn't really understand.
Johnson is an expert at recreating those feelings of teenage angst and ups and downs. Rory is just a high school student trying to make the best of her new school and life in London. She is looking for friends and looking for a little romance. Throughout the pages of The Name of the Star, she finds both. Each character in the book is fully realized, with quirks and emotions that make you wish you knew them in your real life. From her eccentric roommates to the mysterious killer on the loose, there are characters leaping off every page and into your imagination. 
The Name of the Star is more than just a good story, though. It's a bit of a history lesson for someone like me who doesn't really know all the details of the Ripper murders. Throughout the pages, you can tell Johnson put time and energy into making sure her information was factual and accurate. But, The Name of the Star is never boring or dry. Instead, Johnson's love for her second home is plainly evident. The Name of the Star is just as much a love letter to the London that she loves as it is a 21st century ghost story with a twist. 
I, for one, cannot wait for the rest of Rory's story, and the stories that will complete the Shades of London series. She is a strong, dynamic character that truly values life. HSe wants to make a difference in the world even though I have a sinking suspicion that trouble is going to follow her wherever she goes.
~ Emily


  1. I loved NotS! Can't wait for the next book!

  2. Jen, I loved it, too. Very creepy and very unique. Not at all like some of MJ's other stuff I've read recently. I hope Rory is in the rest of the Shades series, but i'm not sure she will be.